In this chapter we explore the exciting possibilities offered by group Mind Maps, in which groups of individuals can combine and multiply their personal creative abilities.

functions of group mind mapping

The advantages of bringing individuals together in Mind Mapping groups were neatly summarised by Michael Bloch of the Sperry Laboratory in his Tel/Syn paper:

7n our daily lives, we learn a myriad of information that is unique to each of us. Because of this uniqueness, each of us has knowledge and a perspective that is strictly ours. Therefore it is beneficial to work with others during problem-solving tasks. By combining our Mind Map knowledge with others, we further the associations that we as well as others make'

During group brainstorming, the Mind Map becomes the external reflection, the 'hard copy', of the emerging group consensus and subsequently becomes a group record or memory. Throughout this process, the individual brains combine their energy to create a separate 'group brain'. At the same time the Mind Map reflects the evolution of this multiple self and records the conversation within it.

At its best, it is impossible to distinguish the group Mind Map from one produced by a single great thinker.

creating a group mind f Numerous studies have been done concerning the positive impact of checking knowledge and asking appropriate questions, an impact which is magnified by the use of the Mind Map. One of the most interesting was conducted by Frase and Schwartz (1975), who divided the subjects of their experiment into three groups of pairs. In Group 1, one person read a passage and then asked his or her partner questions regarding the passage. In Group 2, one person read a passage and was then questioned by their partner concerning the passage. In the third condition, they simply read the passage silently, and had no interactions with their partners. Groups 1 and 2 both performed well in subsequent tests of their recall, while the third group performed poorly.

The findings of this experiment lend further support to the suggestion that noting your own knowledge and questions in a Mind Map form will lead to far better comprehension of the material you read. Frase and Schwartz's findings also give added strength to the suggestion that it is extremely beneficial to work, either in pairs or in a group, rather than studying alone, and to engage in active conversation about the material you are studying, rather than studying in silence - very active verbalising leads to greater efficiency in the processing of the information, and to a greater recall. In addition, working with others will result in the unique perspectives and associations of each individual contributing to a greater overall Mind Map and a much more comprehensive and integrated learning.

The stages involved in group Mind Mapping are similar to those already described for individual creative thinking Mind Mapping. The main difference is that many of the functions that take place in the individual's parabrain during incubation are replaced by physical activity on the part of members of the Mind Mapping group. See pages 168-170 for the seven stages.

These are the seven major stages in the group Mind Mapping process: 1. Defining the subject

The topic is clearly and concisely defined, the objectives are set, and the members of the group are given all the information that might be relevant to their deliberations.

Áé Individual brainstorming

Each member of the group should spend at least 1 hour doing a quick-fire Mind Map burst and a reconstruction and revision Mind Map, showing major branches or Basic Ordering Ideas. (These are equivalent to stages 1 and 2 of the individual creative thinking Mind Mapping process on page 156-7.)

This method contrasts very markedly with traditional brainstorming in which one individual leads the group, noting the keyword ideas given by other members on a flip chart or central screen. This is counter-productive because each word or concept publicly mentioned will create mental eddies and currents that will draw all members of the group in the same direction. In this way, traditional brainstorming groups negate the non-linear associative power of the individual brain, thus losing the massive gains that could be made by initially allowing each brain to explore its own uninterrupted thoughts on the topic.

Small group discussion

The group now divides into groups of three to five. In each small group the members exchange their ideas and add to their own Mind Maps the ideas generated by other members. Allow 1 hour for this stage.

During this process, it is essential that a totally positive and accepting attitude be maintained. Whatever idea is mentioned by a group member should be supported and accepted by all the other members. In this way the individual brain which has generated the idea will be encouraged to continue exploring that chain of association. The next link in the chain may well turn out to be a profound insight, emanating from an idea that might have originally seemed weak, stupid or irrelevant.

T" Creation of first multiple Mind Map

Having completed the small group discussion, the group is ready to create its first multiple-mind Mind Map.

A gigantic screen or wall-sized sheet of paper is used to record the basic structure. This can be done by the whole group, one good Mind Mapper from each small group, or by one individual who acts as scribe for the whole group.

Colour and form codes should be agreed on in order to ensure clarity of thought and focus.

Basic Ordering Ideas are selected as the main branches, and all ideas are incorporated in the Mind Map, the group still maintaining its totally accepting attitude. For the group mind, this Mind Map represents the same stage as that reached by the individual Mind Mapper in Stage 2 of Individual Brainstorming.

S Incubation

As in individual creative Mind Mapping, it is essential to let the group Mind Map 'sink in'.

Once again the Mind Mapping brainstorm process differs markedly from traditional methods, in which the pursuit of ideas tends to be non-stop verbal and analytical activity until a result is achieved. Such approaches use only a fraction of the brain's capabilities, and in so doing produce a result which is less than this fraction, for by eliminating so many of the brain's natural thinking skills, not only are they not used, but the synergetic relationship they have with the few skills that are used is also lost.

Second reconstruction and revision

After incubation the group needs to repeat stages 2, 3 and 4 in order to capture the results of the newly considered and integrated thoughts. This means doing individual quick-fire Mind Map bursts, then producing reconstructed Mind Maps showing main branches, exchanging ideas, modifying the Mind Maps in small groups, and finally creating a second group Mind Map.

The two giant group Mind Maps can then be compared, in preparation for the final stage.

The Mind Map on page 171 (top) is a group Mind Map created by a team of eight Digital executives: Matthew Puk, Microsystems Unit Manager, Thomas Spinola, Second Shift Unit Manager, Thomas Sullivan, Major Accounts Unit Manager, Chris Slabach, Field Service Manager, Lorita Williams, Unit Manager, Richard Kohler, Specialist Unit Manager, Tony Bigonia, Field Service Unit Manager, and John Ragsdale, Field Service Manager. They had been working for five days on the development of teamwork. Their conclusions were unremittingly positive!

/ Analysis and decision-making

At this stage, the group makes critical decisions, sets objectives, devises plans, and edits using the methods outlined in Chapter 12.

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