Professor Tony Buzan is the author of over 140 books that have appeared in 40 languages on Mind Mapping, memory, speed reading, creativity and innovation, thinking, inspiration, genius, leadership and the brain; he is one of the world’s most effective public speakers – acknowledged by Forbes as in the top five speakers today, and has acted as Dean of the Renaissance Leadership Academies of Prince Philipp of Liechtenstein and President Vicente Fox of Mexico. He has lectured on Mind Mapping and Global Mental Literacy in 79 countries, working with schools, universities, and multinational corporations. Buzan has also taught, over the decades, Olympic athletes, majorly in the sports of rowing, boxing, and swimming.
Professor Tony Buzan was specifically invited by King Hasan II of Jordan, from amongst all the world’s leaders, educators and thinkers, to address a conference of Nobel Laureates in Petra 2008. He holds the Torrance Test accolade for the most outstanding results in Creative Thinking. Above all he is the Inventor of Mind Maps, the system of creativity and note taking which has swept the educational establishments, corporate boardrooms and government cabinet offices of the world.
With over 40 years of research on the mysteries of the brain, Tony Buzan has helped hundreds of millions of people around the world to develop and refine techniques for creative thinking, enabling them to use their brains to their full potential; to ‘awaken the brain’ and unleash the creativity of the Intellect.
His organization, Think Buzan, offers accredited ThinkBuzan Licensed Instructor training courses to build a network of highly specialised experts in Mind Mapping, Memory and Speed Reading techniques. The ThinkBuzan accredited training courses, which Professor Buzan leads, bring practical skills to delegates all over the world including individuals from FTSE multinational corporations, leading global universities and Government departments.
He launched his own software programme to support Mind Mapping called iMindMap in December 2006, which has enjoyed widespread adoption as a business tool, within global organisations such as Disney, Microsoft, NASA and the United Nations. What began as a study technique has developed into a versatile thinking tool with applications ranging from business analysis and project planning to delivering presentations.
Professor Buzan is also a published and prize-winning poet, with the world of poetry already engaged with his Structure in Hyperspace and eagerly awaiting his Homeric and Daliesque Epic, “Aman”. He has been nominated for The Nobel Peace Prize, won countless leadership awards from governments, corporations and educational institutions, and has visited 79 countries in his quest to bring about Global Mental Literacy and educate - via The Butterfly Universe Project - the millions of children of all creeds, gender, race and physical or mental ability across the planet—and beyond!
Here he explains what a Mind Map really is and how it helps a leader to BE a real Leader.
Mr. Buzan, what is ‘Mind Mapping’ and how did you develop this technique?
A Mind Map is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain.
The original concept of Mind Mapping stemmed from my desperate need for help in university! I began to experiment with memory techniques and used them to create something more interesting and more stimulating than the typical, linear, word-based, monochromatic (and therefore boring!) mind-numbing notes.
How does the iMindMap app work?
The creation of the iMindMap software in 2006 by myself and Chris Griffiths, with his team, took Mind Mapping to a whole new level – it was the first software product to combine successfully the organic nature of Mind Mapping with the freedom of technology. iMindMap was designed to work in unison with the way the brain processes information, so that users could create beautiful Mind Maps that are based on nature and its organic structures. The partnership meant that the human brain could now more easily and naturally explore the limitless possibilities of human thinking and global communication.
How can Mind Mapping help in strategic thinking and management roles?
When it comes to implementing a strategic thinking process, it’s crucial to see the ‘whole picture’ (the Gestalt or ‘global image’). Mind Maps consolidate large quantities of data into manageable chunks of information so that you get a bird’s-eye view of any problem or plan. A Mind Map will perfectly display your ideas which enables you to evaluate effectively and refine them to come to a complete, informed and valuable decision and thus reach successfully your objectives.
In terms of management roles, Mind Maps will assist you to allocate more intelligently daily tasks, priorities and deadlines while team task planning, as well as when longer term planning. Mind Mapping is an effective tool for planning and managing projects, as it will guide you how to take every step of your thinking process, from the initial brainstorming stage, to collecting and evaluating information and turning those ideas into actionable tasks. The ‘whole picture’ that a Mind Map provides, will help you spot any of the gaps in your thinking. With your Mind Map you will see every detail.
In your experience, do effective leaders need to develop good memories and improve brain efficiency, or do they need only good diaries, smart phones and staff to remind them of priorities and agendas?
If you think about the greatest leaders in history, such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, the Duke of Wellington, Sun Tzsu, as examples, it is clear that leadership is predicated on a wide variety of qualities. Leadership is not simply efficiency, communication, and good time-keeping; it has to be inspirational. Leadership involves creativity, mental stamina and, when developing a personal relationship with those who follow you, a good and functioning memory.
Thus, Julius Caesar was able to remember the names of all the centurions in the ten legions under his command. Think of the morale-boosting effect before a battle, if your sub-commanders can be praised and encouraged by name. A more mechanistic and utilitarian approach to leadership converts into a sterile automatism which negates the vibrant personal relationships which exist in superior chains of command. Since great memory and great creativity are linked, it is necessary to cultivate both qualities. The Mind Map is the tool for that cultivation.
What is your advice for someone with the ‘mental block’ that people experience when they cannot think of a good idea or solution when they need one fast for a business proposal, creative pitch or crisis solution?
The normal human brain does not naturally block. Brains block either when they are traumatised physically or traumatised socially / educationally. When the brain is mal-trained, it is trained to use antithetical, unnatural and non-brain friendly, non-thinking tools. The Mind Map overcomes and eliminates the occurrence of ‘mental blocks’. My advice for overcoming a ‘mental block’ when you need a solution fast, is to create two fast Mind Maps. For the first Mind Map, use keywords outlining what you know about the situation, everything you need or want to achieve and the resources you have had at your disposal. This should only take a few minutes and will provide you with a clear and structured overview of the facts on one piece of paper. Then, create a second Mind Map to start brainstorming ideas for a solution, using your first Mind Map as a reference.
The radiant nature of a Mind Map helps to stimulate more ideas, with keywords stimulating further associations and connections. Think naturally and the Mind Map will help you capture everything that pops into your head. Take a short break away from your desk and the Mind Maps in order to let it all incubate. Once you are back, review the ideas on your brainstorming Mind Map to see what works and what can be developed into a winning solution. Mind Maps are the ideal thinking space when you are looking for clarity and inspiration.
What do you think is the future of Mind Mapping and the use of the human brain?
The human brain is the result of millions of years of evolution. It is the most complex structure in the known universe. Its thought patterns are essentially infinite. However, although the brain is born with limitless capacity, it is everywhere in chains, encumbered by arid educational systems and industrial age learning mechanisms. The Mind Map is the revolutionary liberator which allows the brain to develop, flourish and take flight with the multi-dimensional, multi-ordinate and multi-hued potential with which it is endowed.
In summary, the Mind Map makes your thinking more clear, more memorable, more structured, more defined, more discriminating, more creative, more fun, more enjoyable, more neuron-stimulating, more brainwave-harmonising, more relaxing and less stressful, more brain-friendly, more learning-how-to-learn-orientated, more multiply intelligent, more peaceful, more innovative, and more FREE!