Also known as Idea Mapping, Spider Diagram and Spray Diagram.
Variants include Concept Mapping and Unified Modeling Language.
Think about the last time you have taken notes during a meeting or an interview. You may have felt overwhelmed by all the ideas and actions to be taken. You may even have worried that you would have missed some important details. In situations like this, using a mind map to organize ideas and information can be of great help.
Mind Mapping is visually organizing ideas, facts and thoughts around a particular topic or problem. It is a nonlinear hierarchical approach that shows the shape of the topic and allows to understand how the different components are related to each other. Mind maps reflect the way human beings think and organize information, making them a great way to organize thoughts in a more natural way.
Mind mapping has many applications in personal, professional and educational situations. For example, it is used to identify and organize the new ideas during brainstorming sessions. It can be used to sort out complex and overwhelming situations, and to consolidate information from different sources when you are doing a research assignment. It is also used to support interviewing and studying by providing an alternative way to ordinary notetaking.
Mind maps can be used in planning and decision making to creatively generate and organize alternatives and actions. It can also be used as a presentation tool to present ideas and facts.
In a mind map, ideas and thoughts are coming out from the topic under study and organized in the form of a diagram. The process of drawing a mind map can be an overwhelming task. For this reason, there are many software applications and online services that facilitates the creation of mind maps. These applications offer greater flexibility that a piece of paper can’t.
Constructing a Mind Map in a Team Environment
Mind maps can be drawn up individually or collectively, and can be drawn by hand or using a software application. They are usually drawn as part of a team activity through the following steps.
- With your team, present the topic or problem to be explored.
- Draw a circle in the middle of a paper then write in it the topic or problem you are exploring.
- Draw lines out from the circle to initiate the main points or subheadings.
- As you explore each of the main points, brainstorm and draw lines to initiate subpoints, ideas or facts.
- Use colors, single words and simple phrases to make the mind map clear and easy to read. Add images, icons and symbols to make it easier to interpret.
- To show associations between items, draw lines between them.
- Produce a higher version of the mind map later when there is more time available.
- Provide the opportunity to add to the mind map later as you come across new information.
Example – Continuous Improvement
The following is an example of a mind map that was created to help remembering the continuous improvement tools and techniques.
Example – Performance Management
This is a mind map that was created to organize perspectives and objectives using the balanced scorecard strategic management approach. Note that a fourth level can be added to represent the KPIs per each strategic objective.
Example – Personal Development
The following is a mind map that was created to help remembering personal development tools and techniques.
Oftentimes, mind maps will have a lot of branches and content. That’s why you need to be persistent and patient while working with them.
Mind maps can help quickly identify and understand the structure of any concept and see how pieces of information fit together. They provide focus and clarity as they only use single words and simple phrases. This will offer new insights into new possibilities and creative solutions to improve existing processes and practices.
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