Concept mapping software is emerging as a powerful tool for supporting complex thinking. The Decision Rationale editor (DRed) provides an illustrative example from industry. Eight years after its development, 700+ engineers in Rolls-Royce have received direct training, others have adopted it independently and it is increasingly used for knowledge management, creativity and communication. This study seeks lessons from these experiences to inform broader map-based tools and methods development. Semi-structured interviews were performed with 11 professionals ranging from junior engineers to chief designers. A qualitative analysis of transcripts and sample maps examined the value of new features and methods in practical contexts. Results suggest mapping is often the “path of least resistance” to organise unstructured ideas and conflicting perspectives. The flexible nature of maps, however, presents challenges for standardising methods. Feature development will require a continued balance of simplicity, learnability and functionality supported by integrated help documentation.

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