As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. This is especially true for people who prefer learning visually, known as visual learners. But even if you favor other means of learning, such as by listening or reading/writing, taking the visual approach merits your attention.
In other words, while you can jot down extensive lists and notes to visualize ideas and organize thoughts, using visual thinking tools, such as a mind map, can greatly aid the process of brainstorming and problem-solving.
What is a Mind Map?
In essence, a mind map sometimes referred to as a “spider diagram”, is a visual aid that facilitates the creative visualization of ideas centered around a particular topic.
So, the central idea is usually represented by a single keyword or short phrase that’s surrounded by branches of sub-topics and relevant ideas. These branches may further have sub-branches with more sub-topics.
For example, below is a sample mind map for a website. When you think of creating a website, you’ll likely list down the various elements and pages that you’ll need to include, such as the header, footer, an “About” page, and so on.
Rather than writing a huge, unexciting list with bullets and sub-bullets, try creating a mind map, and soon you’ll be able to appreciate how it promotes design thinking, creativity, and ingenuity while getting the job done in a fun way.
While there are countless uses of mind maps, here are a few everyday use cases that substantiate their efficacy:
- Creating a diverse to-do list
- Take quick notes or brainstorming during a meeting
- Better retain information from a long article or book
- Planning your vacation
Benefits of Using Mind Maps
Before you learn how to create a fruitful mind map, here are a few more reasons (besides creative thinking) why that little extra effort in creating one would be worth it:
a. Problem-solving: Using a mind mapping tool to break down a complex problem into bite-sized chunks is an excellent way to find solutions. That is, fixing the central topic and then expanding outward makes it easier to analyze the problem piece by piece and find solutions that resolve every component of the problem.
b. Better collaboration: Working together, sharing ideas, and putting them into perspective becomes much easier when you have a well-defined visual aid that’s easy to create and modify. Whether you create a “professional doodle” on a piece of paper or use an online mind mapping tool, mind maps enable greater teamwork and synergy.
c. Higher productivity: By facilitating the free flow of ideas in a structured way, mind mapping can decrease the completion time of tasks, thus boosting a team’s productivity. In fact, a productivity boost of 25% is reported by businesses that use mind mapping during presentations, meetings, and planning.
d. More memorable: A color-coded mind map with distinct branches and sub-branches of different shapes help your brain make a visual association which, in turn, makes the information more memorable.
How to Create a Mind Map?
Building a mind map for the very first time may seem a bit daunting, but one of the major reasons behind the popularity of mind maps is that they’re actually very easy to create. Before you jump on an online tool or edit a template, it is a good idea to learn the fundamental process of mind mapping:
• Start with the central topic: Think about and write down the central idea or the problem you’re trying to solve in the center of the page. Keep it succinct.
Produce the main branches: Brainstorm all the supporting ideas and subtopics related to the central topic. Branch out these subtopics around the central idea by writing keywords and using lines to connect them with the primary topic.
• Dive deeper: Then, analyze your subtopics and surround them with relevant ideas, facts, and/or figures. Keep breaking down each of those new subtopics as much as you can, filling up the entire page with related ideas and topics that comprehensively cover the main topic.
• Use different shapes and colors: To make your mind map more readable and appealing, use color coding for different levels of subtopics, or different colors for different branches, as you see fit. Also, use different shapes to create a logical hierarchy for various levels of information.
• Review and optimize: When you feel your mind map is near completion, it’s time to go through it carefully. Seeing the whole mind map sprawling in front of you will make it easy to spot gaps and add new branches. It’s likely that some parts of your mind map will be more densely populated than others. There’s no defined shape for a mind map, just focus on making your mind map as comprehensive as you can.
And voilà, you’ve just made a mind map that’ll be super helpful in tackling every aspect of your problem statement and coming up with creative solutions.
Examples of Mind Mapping in Business Activities
Now, let’s take a look at a few examples/templates of mind maps compiled from multiple sources that you can use in various business activities:
1. Business Strategy
Use this freemium business strategy template from Venngage to develop a custom, high-level business strategy.
2. Product Design
Use this free product design template from Edraw to create a mind map that facilitates the design of a brand new product.
3. Product Launch
Here’s another amazing freemium mind map template from Venngage to kick off a new product launch correctly.
4. Marketing Strategy
Use this free marketing strategy template from MindMeister to create a comprehensive digital marketing strategy for your business.
5. Content Marketing
The following three content marketing mind map examples shown below are created using the freemium tool Bubbl.us. These will help you come up with new topic ideas for your business blog, a distribution strategy for the finished posts, and also help you to discover ways in which you can repurpose the same piece of content in multiple formats.
5.1. For Content Ideation
5.2. For Content Distribution
5.3. For Content Repurposing
6. Human Resources
Here’s another great free template from MindMeister to help streamline the hiring process for new employees by listing various aspects such as their job duties, pay, qualifications, and so on.
7. Employee Induction
Another one for the HR team, you can use this free template from MindManager to streamline the employee induction process in your company.
8. Project Management
Use this freemium mind map example from MindGenius for preparing a project management process that involves planning project requirements, creating work breakdown structures (WBS), scheduling tasks, and other crucial activities.
9. Design Thinking
Yet another freemium template from Venngage which you can leverage to think outside the box. Note how it uses simple icons and images that make it more intuitive, appealing, and memorable.
Over to You
As you can see, instead of drafting tedious and often elaborate lists that don’t necessarily aid creative visualization, chalking out your thoughts and ideas into crisp and coherent mind maps can truly boost your ability to brainstorm ideas and overall quality of work.
So, consider mind mapping the next time you’re trying to structure your ideas to solve a problem.