Mind map

From WikID

What is a mind map?

Figure 1: Example of a mind map (from Tassoul, 2006).

A mind map is a graphical representation of ideas and aspects around a central theme, and how these aspects are related to each other. With a mind map one can map all the relevant aspects and ideas around a theme, bringing overview and clarity to a problem. A mind map helps in systematically unpacking abstract thoughts and notions, and bringing structure and overview to a problem. A mind map is like a tree, with branches leading to the thoughts and aspect of the theme. Graphically, one can use the analogy of the tree by making branches that are important more thicker than others.

Mind mapping is an excellent technique for developing one’s intuitive capacity. It is especially useful for identifying all the issues and sub-issues related to a problem. But mind maps can also be used for generating solutions to a problem and mapping their advan­tages and disadvantages. The latter is accomplished by making the main branches the solutions and the sub-branches from each of these the pros and the cons. Analysing the mind map helps you find priorities and courses of action.

When can you use a mind map?

A mind map can be used in different stages of the design process, but is often used in the beginning of idea generation. Setting up a mind map helps one to structure thoughts and ideas about the problem, and connect these to each other. However, a mind map can also be used in the the problem analysis phase of a design project. Mind maps also works well for outlining presentations and reports. In fact, mind mapping can be used in a wide variety of situations.

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How to use a mind map?

Starting points

The starting point of a mind map is a central theme, for example a problem or an idea.

Expected outcome

The outcome of a mind map is a structured overview of ideas and thoughts around a concept or a problem, represented graphi­cally.

Possible procedure

Figure 2: Example of a mind map created with computer software.
  1. Write the name or description of the theme in the center of a piece of paper and draw a circle around it.
  2. Brainstorm each major facet of that theme, placing your thoughts on lines drawn outward from the central thought like roads leaving a city.
  3. Add branches to the lines as necessary.
  4. Use additional visual techniques – for example, different colors for major lines of thought, circles around words or thoughts that appear more than once, connecting lines between similar thoughts.
  5. Study the mind map to see what relationships exists and what solutions are suggested.
  6. Reshape or restructure the mind map if necessary.

Tips and concerns

  • You can find software for Mind Mapping on the Internet. The disadvantages of using computer software are that there is some limitation in freedom of using hand drawings and colours, it is less personal, and it might be less suitable when sharing it with others (you and your computer alone).
  • Make digital pictures of your handmade Mind Maps.

References and further reading

  • Tassoul, M. (2006) Creative Facilitation: a Delft Approach, Delft: VSSD.
  • Buzan, T. (1996) The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential, New York: Plume.


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