Most people have heard of brainstorming. This is a pretty tried and true technique where ideas are written down on a sheet of paper or a board as quickly as the mind of the group or individual can generate them. One of the problems with this technique is that the ideas can be all over the place and either the individual or the group participating loses focus on each of the ideas presented.
Enter Mind Mapping. Whilst the technique has been around for sometime, it is still not as widely used as most people would think. In my opinion it is a far better concept for generating ideas than the straight brain storming method because it provides a means of linking ideas and keeping people focused on issues. Whilst with brainstorming you start out at the top of the page or the top of a board, mind mapping begins in the center. Again, unlike brainstorming where the topic is known an you just start with the ideas, with mind mapping the topic is written down in the center of the paper or board so it features as the central idea of the exercise.
And now the fun begins. It’s time to put racing thoughts, enthusiasm and excitement to work and throw caution to the wind. No idea is silly, no idea is suspect and no suggestion is to be ignored. Everything is to be written down on that piece of paper or board. However the significant difference here with mind mapping is that all the ideas are linked as you go. It’s unfortunate that I can’t provide you with a diagram in the context of this article, but I will try and explain it this way.
Take a piece of paper and in the center write the word HOUSE with a circle around it. Now out to one side write the word GARDEN in a circle and join the two circles. Then down from GARDEN write the words, ROSES, SUCCULENTS, ANNUALS, again all in circles. This time though have these three words side by side and joined back to GARDEN only. Can you see where this is going? Now off on a tangent from HOUSE again, write the word BRICK in a circle. You can then list all the “ideas” related to BRICK and join them back. You can do the same for WEATHERBOARD. You might like to add FENCING and all the different types of fencing you can thing of. The whole concept is meant to stimulate ideas and get them down on paper as quickly as possible.
You can use this concept for absolutely anything and it can be particularly good for use in a decision making process. Put the problem down in the center of the page and come up with as many solutions as you can. Don’t worry about whether they are good or bad at the time. The idea is to come up with solutions and get the ideas out of your head and down on paper.
There is software available for mind mapping which is easily found by doing a search on Google. The software is free, but I don’t recommend using it for doing the actual mind maps. The process is too slow. By all means use the software though to document your efforts.
Good luck with your mind mapping. May it solve many a problem for you and/or your business.