34 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
December 2019 | ISE Magazine 35
In the 1988 movie Working Girl,
Melanie Griffiths character has an
epiphany on a train that a customer
should invest in radio after reading
an article in a newspaper regarding
an upcoming social event. She uses
her explicit knowledge and puts togeth-
er tacit knowledge with Harrison Fords
character to create a proposal for a busi-
ness development opportunity, much to
the chagrin of her boss played by Sigour-
ney Weaver.
The deal resulting from it is a great
example of mind mapping, though no
mind map was used in this movie. This
was also an example of an employee
with no knowledge of business develop-
ment finding success through knowl-
edge sharing and transfer. Yes, it was
a movie, but gathering and using both
explicit and tacit knowledge is useful in
business development.
Tony Buzan introduced mind map-
ping to the masses through his books
Use Both Sides of Your Brain: New Mind-
Mapping Techniques in 1991 and How
to Mind Map in 1993. These books
introduced creativity and a process
to map knowledge to topics selected
by authors as needed to develop their
mind maps.
Anyone on a business development
team can start mind mapping, but it
is most beneficial to start in the cap-
ture phase of any proposal efforts. It is
through knowledge sharing and knowl-
Mind mapping in
6 simple steps
for business
Strategic tool combines tacit,
explicit knowledge to seek a
competitive edge
By Cynthia J. Young
36 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
edge transfer of the team that the mind
map becomes a useful tool.
WIIFM for organizational
business development
For an organization, business develop-
ment is one of the most complex and
critical factors necessary for success. De-
veloping and growing a business, from
employees to profits, come from value-
added processes that organizations use to
build working relationships that, in the
end, benefit all players.
Whether the relationships are the or-
ganizations place within a market or as
a partner on a contract, business devel-
opment is a must-do and must-keep-up-
with function of an organization. Using
a mind map adds value to an organiza-
tion in the form of fact-based and ac-
tionable knowledge to develop business.
This value is the WIIFM, the “What’s in
it for me?” for the organization.
The business development team may
be interested in pursuing an examina-
tion of the viable markets for areas of
growth. Developing mature and coop-
erative relationships with other orga-
nizations, qualifying opportunities and
supporting customer needs through pro-
posal submissions leads to new business.
The team must achieve this through
purposeful knowledge management
efforts, specifically knowledge sharing
and transfer, requiring concentrated ef-
forts and commitment to the process of
maintaining gains and continuing to
achieve required growth. In this case,
mind mapping can support business de-
velopment as a key component of the
organizations knowledge management
Explicit and tacit knowledge
for mind mapping
The standard slices of business develop-
ment processes include capture devel-
opment, pricing analysis and teaming
opportunities to examine, to name just
a few, but one tool found most helpful
in supporting these processes is mind
mapping. Mind mapping supports an
organizations effort to share knowledge,
starting with explicit knowledge – what
published information is available – then
moving on to the tacit knowledge –
what may be known by the business de-
velopment team or others in the organ-
ization from their experiences.
The integration of the mind map
within the state of play for the business
development team and decisions to pur-
sue future opportunities by using it will
likely occur during gate reviews.
Information technology supports ex-
plicit knowledge collection in the form
of databases used to populate multiple
spreadsheets and customer relationship
management sites. SharePoint portals
and pages may have a lot of this infor-
mation, but they do not help the orga-
nization put the mind map together.
There are many tools that can support
mind mapping; one can start mind map
generation by using software tailored for
that purpose or with paper and a pencil.
There are benefits to both if that chosen
method allows for the sharing of knowl-
Organizations must develop a mind
map with tacit knowledge integration
compiled from human thought and in-
teraction. A team creates a mind map to
convey the organizations in-depth in-
formation held through the experience
of the employees, but also adds a thor-
ough examination of resumes, known
A mind map exercise
To create the mind map, start with the intended objective in the center and add branches to include the necessary information as knowledge
is gathered.
Subcontractor #1 Name/Logo
Subcontractor #2 Name/Logo
Known status of Prime’s reputation
with Desired Customer?
Incumbency on other contracts
of the Desired Customer?
Known Contract
Prime Name/
Company Proprietary Information
Public or Private
Stock Information
Employee Owned?
Company Size
Small, Medium or Large
# of Employees
Internal Contacts w/
Desired Customer
Desired Customer C-Suite
Skills needed by the
Desired Customer
Experience with
Desired Customer
Who knows who?
Status of
Last meeting/
Next meeting?
Solicitation info:
Industry Day
Date Due
Expected character
(i.e. Unrestricted or Small Business)
December 2019 | ISE Magazine 37
skills, working relationships and possi-
bly lessons learned and formal outbriefs
from prior proposal efforts.
Next, instead of filling in the puzzle
pieces inside of the outline, the team
should begin to fill in the outside and
add the branches to the picture (see Fig-
ure 1). Mind mapping is akin to putting
a puzzle together, though it is backward.
Instead of starting with the border piec-
es, the business development team puts
in the one known or decided factor in
the center at the start, whether it is a
market, customer or specic contract.
The pieces extend from the center and
should reflect information regarding
that centerpiece of the market, customer
or specic contract.
The organizations goal or desired end
state for the mind map is to build a pic-
ture of the current state of play and de-
cide whether the business development
goal is worth pursuing as a prime or a
subcontractor to the best prime. This al-
lows an organization to use this knowl-
edge to examine the facts and choose to
take on or pass on the opportunity alto-
gether during the capture phase.
Capture leads are mind
mapping quarterbacks
The team, or capture lead, digs into
whatever information is available. For
example, in defense contracting, a team
could use GovWin (iq.govwin.com), in-
dividual company contract pages, Fed-
eral Business Opportunities ( fbo.gov)
or even LinkedIn pages to start build-
ing the most complete picture they can
of the current state, based on published
information. A mind map begins with
explicit knowledge to support fact-based
The next step is to add the tacit knowl-
edge to the mind map, which at the start
may consist of previous relationships
through teaming or employment. As the
work to build the mind map continues,
knowledge will continue to come from
explicit and tacit sources as the capture
lead progresses its efforts, and more so
as the team gains a better understanding
of what knowledge it must contribute or
For example, if the center objective
is a market the organization is consider-
ing entering, the business development
team can build a mind map to provide
a picture of businesses that support work
in the desired market of interest. After
examination, team members may also
discover they are not qualified to work
in the market or find there is no room to
be in the market.
On the other hand, the team may find
an opening in the market it did not un-
cover during prior capture efforts. Once
completed, a successful mind map should
be easy to understand without too much
explanation by using standardized ter-
minology used by the business develop-
ment team and those making the deci-
sion to pursue the opportunity.
Six simple steps of the
mind mapping process
In support of capture efforts, here are six
simple steps to create a mind map, with
customization to the customer, market
or specic contract:
Step 1: Select a desired customer,
market or specific contract that the busi-
ness development team will focus on
for examination. Any more than one
customer, market or contract per mind
map will cause confusion. The explicit
and tacit knowledge should provide a
focus on the center effort of interest on
the mind map. The example in Figure 1
uses a desired customer.
Step 2: For the desired customer,
market or specific contract, use your ex-
plicit resources such as contract portals,
internet resources ( financial magazines,
news media sites, etc.) and contract pages
of expected competitors to search for
contractual relationships with the de-
sired customer as prime contractors. The
team may also find the subcontractors
(subs) as well through the associated press
pages and, at times, may find them on
organization charts, whether spelled out
or color-coded to indicate the source of
the worker. Since the mind map may get
busy if the customer has multiple primes
and subs, it is useful to use the customer’s
logo for ease of recognition.
Step 3: From the explicit knowledge
gained in Step 2, the team can discern
contract numbers, the period of per-
formance, total value and estimate the
anticipated requests for proposal (RFP)
date. When the team adds the informa-
tion to the mind map instead of listing
the explicit knowledge on a spreadsheet
or on the contractual information found
during the explicit knowledge research,
this information provides a mental pic-
ture of the current state and may also
provide areas worthy of research to
achieve the desired future state.
Step 4: This next step requires com-
munication with the team and person-
nel not on the team. After completion
of the initial explicit knowledge gather-
ing by the capture lead, the business de-
velopment team starts to gather its tacit
knowledge and should ask questions
such as:
Have any of the team members sup-
ported this customer in the past? If so,
who was it? What were the experi-
ences of those team members?
Of the organizations identified as
current prime contractors for the
customer, what is known about the
relationship between them? Is the
contractor happy with the work or
waiting desperately for the end of the
period of performance?
• Who knows someone outside of the
organizations customer identified
during Step 2? What do they know
about that customer that could pro-
vide insight for future business?
Who within the organization has
skills or experience that may support
the customer? Note that these skills
and experience may be absent from
the resumes and skill sets known to
human resources or management.
These questions are not all-encom-
passing of what may come up during
these conversations to build a complete
38 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
mind map. The information collected
in Steps 2 through 4 from both explicit
and tacit knowledge capture should con-
tinue until the organization has a mind
map that leadership can use for decision-
Step 5: Perhaps the most difficult part
of building a mind map is this step. The
team must put the tacit knowledge on
the map only as it helps build the picture.
Do not get rid of the tacit knowledge
that is not on the map. For the map, a
team may consider quantitative infor-
mation to be the best information, but
when starting a mind map, there may
not be a lot of it. Include the qualitative
information as it supports the mind map.
Step 6: Label the mind map “Busi-
ness Sensitive, Internal Working Pa-
pers.” Store the mind map for easy team
access and add information as needed.
Do not overlook individuals who sup-
port the current work as part of an up-
coming re-compete, or who supported
the type of work or market under ex-
amination but are not part of the busi-
ness development team. They may have
experience the team is unaware of that
could support the capture efforts re-
quired for mind mapping. The organi-
zation may also have personnel with ex-
perience creating and developing mind
Once an organization develops its first
mind map, the cooperation from the ef-
fort may lead to secondary lines of in-
formation for other areas of interest and
future business development goals. The
team supporting the mind map should
not restrict knowledge gathering to just
those supporting business development
efforts since that team is likely not the
personnel who would be doing work on
the contract.
Knowledge sharing and transfer is
essential to any business development
process. Mind mapping provides the
picture of the merged explicit and tacit
knowledge to support proposed oppor-
Cynthia J. Young, Ph.D., resides in Chesa-
peake, Virginia. Young is a theater mission
planning center curriculum developer and in-
structor with Leidos, a defense contracting com-
pany, after retiring as a surface warfare ofcer
with 23 years in the U.S. Navy. She is a past
chair of American Society for Quality, Section
1128, and a member of the Project Manage-
ment Institute. She holds professional certica-
tions as a project management professional, a
lean Six Sigma master black belt and a certi-
ed manager of quality/organizational excel-
lence. She holds a bachelors degree in English
language and literature from the University of
Maryland, masters of business administration
degrees in e-commerce and advanced manage-
ment studies from Trident University Inter-
national, and a doctorate of business admin-
istration in project management from Walden
University. She is the author of “Chapter 3:
Using Leadership to Improve Firm Perfor-
mance Through Knowledge Management
from The Refractive Thinker: Volume
XI: Women in Leadership and “Chap-
ter 4: Ensuring Prosperous Knowledge Flow
from the Silent Generation Through Genera-
tion Z” from The Refractive Thinker Vol
XVII: Managing a Cultural Workforce:
The Impact of Global Employees.
A riddle posted on a billboard Oct. 21 in Times Square in New York offered passersby
this puzzler:
“I have a goal without scoring
I have branches without leaves
I have ideas but have no brain
What am I?”
The answer? A mind map.
The billboard was posted by Ayoa, creator of software as a service (SaaS) tools,
including a mind mapping app. Here are other companies that offer mind mapping
software; many offer free versions as well as paid upgrades:
MindManager: A “virtual whiteboard” allows you to draw connections between
related topics and drag them around to create a map of your thoughts.
TheBrain: This mind-mapping app comes with free and pro versions, and you get
a 30-day free trial to test out all its features.
KnowledgeBase Builder: Allows you to build mind maps on Windows, Mac,
iOS, Android or even online. While the downloadable apps cost about $10, the online
tool appears to be free.
FreeMind: Open-source mind-mapping tool that costs nothing to use.
Simplemind: Free version is registration-free and allows for multiple types of map
Mindomo: Free version allows for six users per month to access the platform.
Coggle: Free version of its software enables five users per month to access an
Wisemapping: Free for individual memberships without any limitations or
restrictions for product use.
Popplet: Free for 10 maps and three users per month.
Mindmeister: Basic membership is free and enables three users per month.
MindMup: Free version allows for unlimited free maps and six months of being
able to publish maps.
Bubbl.us: Offers a free version for creating up to three mind maps.
Mind42: Completely free to use for all features, though it does have advertisements.
Sources: learn.g2.com; lifehacker.com
Mind map apps, and a riddle