Mind Mapping for a Strategist with BSC Designer

Mind maps are an excellent technique used to outline and discuss various ideas. What about using mind maps for ideas about strategy? Is there a place for mind mapping when a strategy map is created?

Catch random ideas with mind map and present business goals with cause-and-effect logic on a strategy map.

View Scorecard with a Mind Map online

In this article, I’m going to share my experience, and I invite both strategy map and mind map practitioners to share their thoughts in the comments.

What’s the difference between strategy and a mind map?

A mind map is a flexible tool mainly used to outline ideas. For the best effect on the cognitive skills, it is widely recommended to use handwritten text, natural links, and graphics.

A strategy map is normally a one-page diagram where the business goals are mapped in 4 perspectives. The cause-and-effect logic on the map shows how an organization plan to execute its strategy.

Let’s do a short compare and contrast analysis of both techniques.

Mind MapsStrategy Maps
What do we map?Ideas, associationsBusiness goals
How do we connect objects?By following a natural flow of ideas including cross linksBy following a cause-and-effect logic; the direction is bottom-up – from capabilities to creating a value for the shareholders
Mapping toolsA spider map diagram with keywords in the nodes; cross branch connections; active use of graphical meansA table diagram with goals maps in several perspectives; aligned metrics and initiatives
Scale of the mapVary in size; the use of nodes helps to keep map readableNormally a 1-page map + optional 1-2 pages of supporting documentation
Practical useWide range of applications mainly focused on outlining ideas for better understanding and natural-flow explanationDescription of the strategy, ideally should answer the questions about where the organization wants to get and how to get there

Should a strategist use a mind map?

Mind mapping for a strategy

It might look like all strategy-related activities happen exclusively on a strategy map… A company’s top managers are supposed to come up with an excellent “strategy” and present it on the map. In reality, it doesn’t work in this way.

Any idea passes a long way from an “insight” stage to the “strategic hypothesis” or a “business goal.” What method can stimulate generating more insights about strategy? Anything from a blank page of paper, Newton’s apple, meditation to mind/process/concept mapping, SWOT, PESTLE – anything that has the power to support creative thinking. On our website, we have an “Executive’s toolkit” category where we discuss different tools that can help.

Do you need more insights that will be converted into an excellent strategy? Why not try mind mapping?

Mind mapping with BSC Designer

This part of the article will be more interesting for the current and future users of BSC Designer. I guess you know very well that this software helps to create professional strategy maps. On the same “Strategy map” tab one can create additional maps, including a mind map.

BSC Designer is not a software for mind mapping, but it has a very interesting feature that helps one to combine mind and strategy maps:

On the map, you can use business goals and KPIs from your scorecard.

Let’s say that we have a typical customer-related goal on the map, for example, “Improve customer support.” Our plan is to “Implement better agent training” (you can see it on the map in the form of the initiative).  We know what metrics we are going to use. The leading metric will be “Agent training, hours” and the lagging metric will be “First call resolution rate, %.”

Improve customer support goal on the map with an initiative, leading, and lagging KPIs

View Scorecard with a Mind Map online

Does our team have enough information to start working on this goal? How can we do better? Why not create an additional map and start catching some ideas?

I switch to the “Strategy map” tab and create an additional map using “+” button.

Adding additional map to the scorecard

The first thing to do is to add a copy of my business goal to this map. To do so I have “Add business goal” button. From the two suggested options, I’m interested in using the second one – “Add existing business goal.”

Add existing business goal to the map

I have a live copy of the business goal on my new map. It is live because any change of the aligned KPIs or initiatives, will be reflected on this map.

A live goal on the map

View Scorecard with a Mind Map online

Let’s do some mind mapping now.

“Improving customer support” … Let’s map here on the left the recent complaints from our customers: “Long waiting time; The IT system was not working; Support representative didn’t know the answer…” and here on the right are some thoughts about the ways to improve… “Define 20 most frequent cases and make sure every support representative knows how to answer” “Analyze why it takes so long to answer one query, can we improve or should we hire more people?” “What is happening with IT, who is able to diagnose and fix it.”

A business goal with some aligned ideas on the mind map

View Scorecard with a Mind Map online

On this stage, the ideas are scattered and for now it´s hard to use them and build a solid strategy. First, we need to discuss and test some of them. A simple mind map is an appropriate tool in this case. At any time, this map can be shared with other users or exported as a picture file.

Some of the ideas might be converted into the initiatives and can be aligned with the business goals. For example, the “20 cases” idea and the idea about researching problems with IT look like actionable initiatives. I’m adding them as an initiative for this business goal, assigning a person to be responsible, a budget, and the time needed to do it.

Additional initiatives aligned with business goal

View Scorecard with a Mind Map online

The business goal on the strategy map has all the details and is ready for execution. Still, I prefer to keep my mind map in the scorecard for some possible references in the future.

Final recommendations

  • Practice mind maps to catch ideas about business challenges, success factors, competitors, external conditions, strengths, weaknesses, etc. In early stage, the goal is to get more insights without caring much about the structure.
  • Pick the most promising ideas. Use a strategy map as a framework to present the ideas in the form of strategic hypothesis and business goals. Align the ideas with your overall strategy.
  • Use automation software like BSC Designer to manage both types of maps – the top view strategy map and mind map with the ideas. You never know when your strategy will need new inputs.

Do you use mind maps when generating ideas for your strategy or for your KPIs? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Use Scorecard with a Mind Map project discussed in this article as a starting template for your own scorecard! Access this example project online or download .BSC project file for BSC Designer PRO.

View Scorecard with a Mind Map online

Related Articles

Strategy and KPIs Scorecard Expert | Speaker | CEO. Aleksey Savkin (LinkedIn, @bscdesigner) is helping companies to better formulate their strategies and make the process of strategy execution more tangible with KPIs. His areas of expertise are Balanced Scorecard, Key Performance Indicators, business performance management. Aleksey is a frequent speaker at conferences; the author of a number of articles and books on Balanced Scorecard. New book by Aleksey: 10 Step KPI System

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