Mind mapping is a simple technique for drawing information in a creative and logical non-linear diagram built around a central concept. Taking the basic format of a tree, the diagram has a single starting point in the middle that branches out with main topics and sub-topics like twigs, radiating out again and again. This diagram, or mind map, is made up of words, short sentences, concepts or items connected to and arranged around the central concept or subject. A mind map creates pictures instead of sentences that show ideas in the same way they are represented naturally in the brain. The brain uses words, pictures, numbers, symbols, images and color to create pictures of information. The ideas are linked together in a way that makes it easy to understand and remember. This is what makes mind mapping a powerful tool to improve learning, memory, project development and communication with others. Some online MBA programs, such as the one through Boise State University, include courses on mind mapping because it is considered to be such a valuable skill.
Used for centuries by Leonardo de Vinci and others, mind mapping became popular around the world in the 1960s by British psychology author and education consultant Tony Buzan. He says mind mapping is the perfect platform to see the overall landscape, providing the whole picture in one visual snapshot.
Mind maps have been used in education for many years. It is well known that working with mind maps helps students organize their ideas and visualize concepts better. Today, visual software applications, particularly mind mapping tools, have automated the process, making it easier and more efficient to create a concept map. Students find mind mapping beneficial for note-taking, in brainstorming to help generate more stimulating ideas, studying and memorization, improving critical thinking, design thinking, problem solving, decision making, planning, researching and consolidating information from multiple sources, storyboarding presentations and project management.
How is mind mapping useful for business professionals?
As in education, the benefits and uses of mind mapping are an effective, impactful method to grow, strengthen and sustain a business organization. Mind mapping by business professionals can help identify the objectives that are specific to a business and can efficiently map out a strategy by taking into consideration the advantages, disadvantages and risks that lie ahead.
Mind mapping expert Chuck Frey shows in a survey he conducted that business users of mind mapping believe their productivity has increased on average by 25 percent. Frey says approximately half of mind mapping enthusiasts use it to some degree for project management, such as drawing simple to-do lists or more complex work-breakdown structures. But business professionals are also using mind mapping to increase the productivity and effectiveness of individuals and teams, enhance decision making and design thinking, plan and improve meetings, create and enhance brainstorming sessions, oversee knowledge management, track and evaluate how information fits into a business model, determine how to move an idea into a finished project, and improve collaboration and communication, both in-person and online.
By integrating mind mapping in a business setting, a company can better understand the complexity of its model, find and implement innovative solutions, and use it to surpass the competition.