This article was originally published on 13/02/2020

Brainstorming tools can help managers and employees to generate and share creative ideas. In this article, Capterra asks, what is a mind map? We explain how to create business mind maps to prepare for projects, presentations or even risk management.

The image depicts employees questioning, what is a mind map? 

Whilst mind mapping can make complex ideas easier to understand and help you to remember a lot of information, they can also just be a fun way of learning. If big ideas don’t come easily, organising projects can be a nightmare. Luckily, mind maps are a great way to bring out the creative side in anyone. Mind mapping software can also make planning so much easier. So what is business mind mapping, and how do we create them?

What is a mind map?

Mind maps are essentially diagrams that help you to visually organise information by connecting related ideas, tasks or topics in a non-linear fashion. In a corporate setting, a business mind map can be an effective tool for brainstorming, can help develop deeper critical thinking skills and foster deeper collaborations within a team. 

You may have seen—or used—mind maps before without knowing it. Teachers love them as a way of getting kids to think, so you might well have come across them in the classroom. Of course, that was many years ago, and you probably haven’t given them a second thought since then!

Mind map ideas

The following are a few examples of business mind maps:

  • Brainstorming mind map: Team members often have to brainstorm regularly for new ideas. Mind maps can be useful in product launching, for example, and in understanding how customers use the product and any problems or concerns they face. 
  • Problem-solving mind map: Mind maps can simplify problem-solving in teams, especially when employees need to generate, analyse and communicate ideas. In a team setting, it allows you to explore different aspects of a problem, correlate the associations and generate solutions. 
  • Risk management mind map: Companies need to forecast and predict any potential troubles when planning and implementing projects. A mind map can aid businesses in building a risk management plan and help to rule out any concerns or weaknesses. 

Why are mind maps helpful?

Mind mapping experts have identified plenty of reasons to use these tools. For many people, the advantage is simple: they help break a project down into manageable pieces. Planning a project can be nervewracking, particularly if it’s your first time—but when you create a mind map, you’ll see that the event is not a single, daunting monolith but rather the sum of a number of small parts, which can be tackled step by step.

The advantage of a mind map over a list is that a mind map is not linear. On a list, the items fall into a particular order, with the most important at the top. On a mind map, on the other hand, nothing takes precedence. This makes it a great tool for project management in a team, as it can help soothe tensions between members.

Mind maps also allow you to show connections between different things. By thinking about topics and subtopics or categories, you can identify how everything fits together. This helps you see the bigger picture of your project, for example, as your team collaborates on an email marketing strategy. Many people find mind maps to be an easy way to inspire ideas. When you start mind mapping, you’ll find that creativity flows more readily than other planning tools.

Why is mind mapping important in business?

Mind mapping is growing in popularity across the world of business. It is commonly used in a number of ways: first, people across industries use mind maps to brainstorm and plan projects. A large-scale project may seem daunting until you start mind mapping and realise that it can be broken down into chunks that are easier to handle.

As mind maps are easy to read and process, they can also be used as presentation tools and offer a more dynamic alternative to bullet-point lists. They’re great within a team, too, helping you to identify different task areas and quickly assign responsibility. That’s why the implementation of mind mapping software is growing. Rather than the traditional pen and paper method, computer mind maps allow you to update and change where necessary, and you can share mind maps with your entire team, which helps create a more collaborative process.

What should a mind map include?

A mind map should include all the topics and subtopics that will be involved in your project. It can be as detailed as you want it to be. A good idea, particularly if you are new to the world of mind maps, is to keep it simple. Keep topic labels limited to one or two words. Remember, you are coming up with the skeleton, not fleshing out the details.

Many users find that their creativity flourishes more when they vary the size of words or use different colours in a mind map. This gives the tool a more vibrant, dynamic feel than a classic list and also helps you sort things quickly into more than one category.

How to create a mind map 

Now that we have answered the question, what is a mind map, let’s look at how to create one. To begin your mind map, start at the centre with your main topic, then branch out. Make sure you leave enough space between subtopics to create smaller branches. You never know how many you’ll need, and you might be surprised by the ideas that come up as you continue the process. 

Creating a business mind map can be broken down into these simple steps:

  1. Take your pen and write your topic in the centre of a blank sheet of paper or whiteboard.
  2. Draw lines to create a circle of subtopics around it.
  3. Use lines to branch out from each subtopic, going into more detail where necessary. 
  4. You can make mind maps about anything, from presentations to project evaluations. 

Use computerised mind mapping programmes to make the process easier and to enable you to share your ideas quickly with your teammates and together come up with new, collaborative solutions. 

Looking for mind mapping software? Check out our catalogue!