News and thoughts from CS Odessa, maker of the ConceptDraw product line: ConceptDraw PRO, ConceptDraw PROJECT and ConceptDraw MINDMAP.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Using Mind Maps to Lower Language Barriers

A recent article by Steve Barth (Managing Knowledge across Borders), reminded me how useful mind mapping can be as a way to lower language barriers. I have talked to many companies--from technology giants to small landscaping contractors--about how they use mind maps to make information more useful to non-native English speakers. It's one of those things that makes them feel like they have a hidden advantage over the competition.

In the first place, maps use single words or phrases instead of sentences and paragraphs. It is often syntax, not words, that make other languages hard to decipher. So by chunking out ideas in a mind map, users can capture and communicate meaning with simple words and the relative position of words. Graphic images help too. While it's true that the meaning of some images change from society to society, there are lots of symbols and images that can cross cultures (the international "No" sign, for example) and add another level of meaning to the information in the map.

Anyone have any stories about using maps this way? Doing business on a global level is common these days. Next time you need to communicate with someone in another country, try replacing that 10-page document with a mind map. See if it makes communication easier.

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