Mapping as a Matter of the Mind

A mind map is a graphic representation of ideas and concepts in relationship to one another. The resulting visual organization of information provides a communication and decision framework for people to do the following:

  • Express their individual points of view about complex issues and more fully understand them
  • Identify opportunities to come together for a common cause that creatively addresses the issues at hand in ways that benefit all involved
  • Mobilize, coordinate, and sustain their collective efforts so they achieve what they envision and honor themselves and those they serve along the way

While mind mapping differs from the more tangible asset, process, and cluster mapping within business ecosystems as noted in my posting, Mapping: Deciding Which Is the Road Not Taken, it complements them, nonetheless, by assisting in problem resolution, strategic planning, and organizational adaptation—very necessary functions for any business to start, scale, and sustain itself.

A current project I’m working on calls for the application of mind mapping with a group of senior-level managers to help them puzzle out a growth strategy for their equipment manufacturing division over the next 5+ years. As with most change initiatives, the goal is to help them determine what will be the road (or roads) not taken.

The challenge is getting management to see and seriously consider roads other than the one they are on. One of the reasons why this can be more difficult than it seems is that the road they are on is the one with which they are the most familiar. The risk is that management will stick to the current path even if their performance is in the tank. It’s ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’ when it comes to change. And if the organization happens to be enjoying a long run of success, the mere thought of abandoning the main road in favor of another less traveled one is even more harrowing.

It becomes a question of how to disrupt their prevailing world view so they look for, discover, and explore other roads. In other words, what concept seeds the mind map to become an attractor? What’s the entry point?

Earlier this week, a colleague and I got into a discussion about the destiny of 3-D printing in the manufacturing landscape over the next 5+ years. It has considerable potential to be a disruptor because it taps into the convergence of major trends toward a design anywhere, manufacture anywhere (DAMA) approach to the integration of product lifecycle management (PLM) and manufacturing execution systems (MES); customized, close-to-point-of-sale manufacturing, delivery, and support; and third, automation and robotics or more bluntly stated, the replacement of people by machines. Those three literally touch everything that goes on in the enterprise.

Extrapolate from the current state of 3-D printing on its evolutionary path to a future reality where, as a customer, I can spec what I want and it materializes in front of me. As a manufacturer, the strategic question is how do I close the gap between immediate satisfaction and how long it takes now between customer order and customer delivery? 3-D printing is on the technology road map that closes this gap, but where is it? What else is on that road? Where are the forks in the road up ahead? Which ones don’t I take?

Originally posted to Sustainable Local Economic Development by Steve Bosserman on Friday, August 10, 2012

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