The company’s consultants are located at various offices around the UK and these typically include (part-time) Associate consultants who are also geographically dispersed. Mind-mapping software is used to help the consultants to collaboratively map their research and analysis in a hierarchical format as well structuring the client report and presentation.
The approach has several benefits: first, the consultants can collaboratively develop the report table of contents (typically at a minimum of three levels of detail) together with the key content at each level of the hierarchy and can then allocate responsibilities for writing the text for these different areas of the report, having jointly agreed the content for each of the levels of hierarchy; secondly, the consultants can visually “play” with the content e.g. moving items from one area to another – this all helps them to come to a common understanding of the report structure and its detailed content – being able to see the “big picture” (in mind-map form) as well as investigating and developing detail in different parts of the report. This way of working tends to stimulate a collaborative creative writing process. In some instances it is appropriate to conduct the client (senior manager) presentation using the mind-map to present the report and such mind-mapping software packages typically include a presentation mode.
The consultants tend to conduct the analysis and report structuring activities face-to-face and then work virtually to develop the final report. The advent of online (or “cloud-based”) mind-mapping tools would allow such brainstorming to be undertaken virtually in conjunction with real-time communication tools such as Skype or Adobe Connect (or even voice-conferencing).