Learn to think visually – or else

August 27, 2008

[Extract from a Q&A Interview by Chuck Frey with Jamie Nast]

Jamie Nast, author of the popular book Idea Mapping and the Idea Mapping Success Blog, is one of the most world’s most prolific trainers and speakers on the topic of visual mapping. In this interview, she explains why it’s critical that executives learn to express their ideas visually, using hand-drawn idea maps and mind mapping software, and the risks of not doing so.

When I prepare for these Q&A interviews, I take great care to craft questions that will be informative to you, the reader, and which highlight the interviewee’s unique strengths and will draw out some interesting insights. When it all comes together, it’s a beautiful thing. This is one of those interviews, where Jamie took the questions I gave her and used them to hit a “home run!”

Chuck Frey: You conduct workshops on idea mapping on a regular basis. What are the most common misconceptions that attendees have about idea mapping?

Jamie Nast: I think there are several:

  • Idea Mapping is a right-brain skill.  No, idea mapping is a whole-brain skill that leverages the natural way the brain associates information.

Full Q & A Interview on Chuck Frey’s blog

Jamie is visiting the UK in October to conduct a 2 day Idea Mapping Workshop.  See you there?


Harness Your Visual Creativity

November 13, 2007

With kind permission of both Mindjet and Jamie Nast herewith an extremely interesting Personal Interview with Jamie Nast, Author of “Idea Mapping”


Mindjet : Maps use both verbal and numerical information, and combine these with the power of creative intelligence; how do maps specifically allow one to think creatively?

Jamie Nast : Maps tap into all of the cortical skills, which are housed in the right and left sides of the brain. The concept of right brain/ left brain thinking developed from the research of American psychologist Roger Sperry in the late 1960s. The right brain is dominantly represented by color, imagination, daydreaming, rhythm, and spatial skills, while the left brain by verbal, mathematical, lines, sequence, lists, logic, and analytical skills. It’s a myth that creativity rests on the right side alone– it’s right combined with left that maximizes creativity, and nothing does that better than an idea map. A map reflects the natural way our brain associates information.

Maps pull information together onto a single sheet of paper in a way that leverages one more area of dominance found on the right side of the cerebral cortex. It’s called gestalt (German for the whole picture) where one sees each topic, each branch, and how the various pieces of data interrelate and connect. A map is a visual picture that enables people to see the relationships between data points, see everything in one place, and now be able to step back and think, clarify, analyze, prioritize, (re)organize, or innovate– and then take action. A map is a tool that provides a framework that fosters and can lead to new ways of thinking. Now that’s creativity!

MJ : What do you do to think creatively?

JN : I can get overwhelmed and immobilized by the large amount of tasks that I need to juggle. The only way I can function is to put everything in a map. It may not be the most creative example in the world, but for me it is a creative solution. The outcome and benefit to me is that my mind is now free to think rather than worrying about trying to manage all the plates that are spinning.

Another example is when I write a book or an article. Right now I’m considering two different book angles, and using MindManager in both scenarios to generate 100% of my creative thinking. The maps are used for gathering research, tracking potential contributors, determining possible endorsements, and outlining chapter headings. The process itself can be creative, but it’s the ability to step back and look at the gestalt— that’s where the creative process takes action.

MJ : What’s a coaching or teaching example of thinking creatively?

JN : Every single time I teach I use MindManager. There was a time in 1996, when I was supposed to teach a 4-day workshop on Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I wasn’t at all prepared, and it had been 9-12 months since I’d been certified. We were teaching the first day to two different groups on back-to-back days. So I struck a deal with my teaching partner. She taught the first day, during which I took detailed notes in a map so I could teach the same material to the second group on the following day. I didn’t have the software at the time, so for me it was a creative alternative to spending two weeks absorbing information from a four-inch thick manual.


I taught the entire day from a single 11”x17” map. The participants didn’t know that this was my first class, and were extremely receptive to the use of the map. If I hadn’t had the map, I literally would have had to read from the book in order to teach the class. Now I use them all the time. Maps capture the big picture and provide creative flexibility in terms of having options on content. If there’s extra time, I have a branch for what I may add, or what to take out if there’s not enough time. In preparing for the June 5th webinar, I went through the creative process with a map to determine what I wanted the audience to walk away with and how to maximize that hour. 


MJ : Your June 5th webinar The Memorability Factor showed attendees how the visual aspect of mapping increases their own memories and those viewing their maps; how is this thinking creatively?

JN : The simple act of creating a map can be creative – it’s colorful and full of imagery. An image can portray a thought in a way that’s beyond words— and it makes the whole process more enjoyable. If something is fun, it’s more memorable. Even something as simple as using different colors for the various branches can enhance one’s ability to make associations and promote a greater level of creativity. A key client who took my class about ten years ago created two different maps on a topic— both had the same content, but one had images and the other didn’t. She conducted a comparison and found that most people preferred the one with images because it was much more interesting. Images break up the monotony of words and thus stimulate one to think and make connections that might otherwise go unnoticed.

When I think about utilizing MindManager for creativity, I think, what an amazing tool!

For more information on idea mapping, sample maps, workshops, Jamie Nast or to buy her book, visit her website at www.ideamappingsuccess.com, or blog at http://ideamapping.blogspot.com.

To use MindManager like Jamie Nast does, download a free trial here

Mindjet Monthly Newsletter (US)

October 19, 2007

Collaboration with Jamie Nast – Integrating MindManager with Microsoft Outlook

As anyone who has been reading this blog knows, I bought Jamie Nast’s book “Idea Mapping” in August and highly recommend it – there are several posts on this Blog about her work – please select “Jamie Nast” from Categories to see them all.  She has enabled me to allow the creative, imaginative, visionary “Me” to work in harmony with the linear, logical, analytical “Me” and I am enjoying the results.  I have always been an organised person but I am now taking those skills to higher levels.  Thanks Jamie!

You can imagine my pleasure when Jamie asked me if I would be prepared to share some of my Maps for an Article she was writing for the Mindjet Monthly Newsletter (US version) about integrating MindManager 7.0 Pro with Microsoft Office Outlook.  You’ll find the US Newsletter on Mindjet’s website where Jamie’s article explains the maps below … I hope that the maps (and the integration with Microsoft Office Outlook) will inspire some ideas …



Download a free trial copy of MindManager 7.0 Pro 


Information Mapping (when reading a Book) will save hours …

September 22, 2007

How Information Mapping when reading a Book will save hours of research/revision time

I do a lot of reading … in fact, I do so much reading that I really wish that I were paid to do the research I undertake because I would earn quite a tidy sum.   Fortunately  I thoroughly enjoy reading but, like many others I encounter the problem of remembering everything and being able to gain immediate access to a particular point or quote. 


That was my problem, until I started using Mindjet’s MindManager 7.0 Pro (free 21 day trial available) and then read Jamie Nast’s Book “Idea Mapping” which gave me the two skills I needed to combine with my Microsoft Office skills … all 3 parts came together and I have now transformed how I read / record / retrieve the knowledge from those books.

When I have a new book to read I start by creating a map (an Information Map), with the Central Theme as the Book’s title, including a photo of the jacket cover, with a link to a website about the book/author.

Each Chapter of the book becomes a main branch of the Information Map and I use colour and imagery (this knowledge came from Jamie Nast’s book, which I highly recommend) to bring to life the main emphasis of that Chapter and any sub-topics.  I learnt from Jamie that to be child-like is not childish and therefore I now use images and colour to aid my memory recall.

This takes concentration because you need to :

a)      read the words

b)      assimilate the knowledge

c)       summarise that knowledge

d)      capture “author’s quotes” (perhaps using the notes area)

e)      pause and reflect on the summarised knowledge
(is it a good enough summary to revise from or has something been missed out?)
If necessary repeat items a-e, until it is as good as it needs to be

f)       find images and colours to bring it to life to aid with future memory recall

g)      Integrate with Microsoft Office Outlook to create Tasks of action points arising

Although this requires concentration I have found that it is saving me considerable time .  True, it takes slightly longer to get through the book in the first place because of items c-g above, however, I am saving myself all that unnecessary (and frankly ridiculous) re-reading to find a suitable quote; re-reading to remember what was in the book; re-reading to prepare for revision prior to an Exam; searching for and trying to interpret the scribbled notes I had written! 

I used to re-read certain books several times if I was preparing for an Exam.  Now I know that I can use the above method to read a book just ONCE, provided that I concentrate and do items c-g whilst reading.

For anyone who needs to read and remember large amounts of information  whether for academic or business purposes, I would recommend this approach.


Below is my first attempt at this process which I developed whilst reading Jamie Nast’s book … whenever I want to recall the key points, I simply open the map and my eyes are drawn to the various images and colours … I can also filter certain topics so that I can concentrate my revision efforts on exactly what I want to review … one page containing everything I read … immediately accessible.



Pink for a Girl and Blue for a Boy …

September 21, 2007

Pink for a Girl and Blue for a Boy … and it’s all down to Evolution

[article by Martin Wainwright, The Guardian]

“Women’s fondness for the colour pink is so deeply embedded that it may have been shaped by evolutionary history, according to scientists whose study of colour preferences is published today.

Rather than marking a girlie approach to home decoration or cake-icing, the trait’s roots are more likely to lie in the struggle to find food in hunter-gatherer days, the researchers suggested.

Prehistoric women who zeroed in on red-coloured fruit would have been the star equivalents of male animal-slayers, according to two British neuroscientists, who have found a consistent liking for pink in surveys of women volunteers.”


Full article available:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/aug/21/sciencenews.fashion