This spring my husband and I were faced with the decision of whether we would replace our aging inground swimming pool with a new one, or simply turn it into lawn.
Today is Day 36 of construction on the pool, and our backyard looks like a war zone. The noise reverberates throughout the neighborhood. My dogs and cats are traumatized. And no end in sight.
"Remind me why we decided to do this," my husband groaned this morning. I quickly hid the issue of SmartMoney Magazine that says an inground pool won't add any real value when it comes to selling your home. Instead, I turned to the projective technique of "mind mapping".
Mind mapping is a method of exploring past experiences by capturing free associations on paper. Because it is a unrestricted, graphical, and non-linear exercise, a mind map allows for greater creativity and deeper insights than simple free association.
Mind mapping traces its roots back to the 3rd century BC with the Greek philosopher Porphyry of Tyre, who used mind mapping to make his ideas easier for others to understand. Leonardo da Vinci popularized mind mapping for note taking.
In qualitative marketing research, mind mapping is a highly effective technique to use when the objective is to gain an initial look at a topic or brand through the respondent's eyes.
You will first need to teach respondents how to do a mind map, using a sample that has been prepared in advance. As illustrated in my "swimming pool mind map", the example should show how associations can branch off in a variety of ways; how thoughts and feelings can be portrayed – positive and negative – through the use of symbols, drawings, and text.
Give respondents approximately 3 minutes of individual work time to create their mind maps. Tell them to work quickly, and take each connection as far as they can. During the debrief, ask for volunteers to share their mind maps with the group. Probe to understand thoughts, feelings, images and deeper associations.
We're handling the construction chaos much better now that we've recalled the reasons why we wanted a swimming pool in the first place. Jumping (eventually) into our brand new pool will be exciting, fun, and energizing. Just like mind mapping!