Baani was the marketing manager at her firm, overseeing a five-member team. She noticed that her team’s performance wasn’t up to the mark.
She decided to call a meeting to discuss how they can improve their efficiency. Baani used a comprehensive and easy-to-understand mind map to elaborate key problem areas—and solutions.
A mind map is a visual representation of problems—and ideas. It’s an effective way to make everyone understand what’s going on. You can create mind maps to maintain a schedule, to study complex topics or even to set personal goals.
What Is Mind Mapping?
Mind mapping was popularized by author Tony Buzan as a means to simplify or break down problems. It works on the power of association where you have the central theme in the middle and branches that connect it to sub-topics or ideas
A mind map is a creative, accessible and easy-to-make tool for learning and development. Some people make mind maps for things like their new year’s resolution, health journey or work experience. When you have the central idea in mind, connecting that to relevant sub-heads helps you see things as a whole.
According to a study, 80% of the students reported that mind mapping helped them retain more information. At a time when visuals are at the top of the pyramid, you can create a mind map for virtually anything. They’ll help you memorize information, understand key concepts and keep track of your ideas all in one place.
The qualities that make a mind map effective are
A central idea
Associated words or images
Branches that connect the main idea to nodes with solutions
Vibrant and colorful to help you identify nodes with ease
If you’re unable to solve a problem, you can create a mind map to break it down into manageable chunks. You can track node to node and make changes where necessary. Let’s explore some examples of mind mapping.
Mind Mapping Techniques
The meaning of mind mapping is a visual representation of a problem or a strategy. The interconnected nodes and branches are dedicated to relationships between each part and ultimately to the central theme.
You can create a mind map by hand, any kind of diagram with a clear hierarchy, or you can use a website to prepare one.
Here are some mind mapping techniques that help you improve your problem-solving skills:
Brainstorming is a way for teams to share ideas and come up with creative solutions. Mind mapping is especially effective during a brainstorming session because of the number of ideas flying around. The moderator can start with a key theme and ask members to add their own thoughts to it. Not only will everyone find it easy to keep track but it’ll also help you assess viable solutions.
Problem-solving can be a tricky business if you don’t know what to do or where to start. With a custom mind map, you can shed light on problem areas, improvement areas and individual efforts that would be required. It’s convenient and leads to better results because you can clearly map the problem—from where it occurred—to a solution. In the workplace, this can help you save time and effort as you’ll be on top of things.
Information overload often derails our plans because it’s just too confusing to find a starting point. A mind map helps you display everything you know—or have learned—in one place. This way, even if there are changes, you can easily edit your map to account for modifications. Your mind map can act as a repository of information that you can refer to whenever you need it.
Whether in a meeting or class, you can create mind maps to take minutes or notes. Instead of writing or typing everything verbatim, you can pick out key ideas and frameworks. Adding them to your map is much easier and quicker. You can present it in a way that works for you. It can have multiple branches—which can be further divided into smaller nodes.
Studying Or Learning
Say you’re learning a language and you’re not able to keep track of how much you’ve learned. Mind mapping makes it easier to understand your progress. You can start with a theme like ‘Japanese Language’, connect branches like ‘grammar’, ‘vocabulary’ and ‘diction’. Add images where necessary or keywords that help you summarize the content. Simple techniques can enrich your learning experience.
These are examples of mind mapping to help you get started. You can make them as creative and vibrant or basic as you’d like.
Make Your Own Mind Map
If you’re not sure where to begin, consider this example of a mind map:
Kiran is a fresh graduate who wants to start applying for jobs. She doesn’t want to restrict herself to one industry, so she’s considering a few options. Take a look at her mind map that helps her keep track of her application process:
Figure 1 Example of a mind map
Figure 1 is a simple iteration of Kiran’s job application process. You can make yours as detailed as you want. Mind mapping can be used in contexts where you’re trying to make sense of large amounts of data or information. Here are the steps you can follow to make your own mind map:
Pick A Central Idea
Start with what you’re trying to achieve—a goal, plan or problem. This central idea forms the foundation on which you’ll build the map. Every other branch will be connected to the main idea either directly or indirectly.
Divide Main Categories
The next step is to categorize all the information you have into broad, reasonable categories. If, for instance, you’re creating a mind map to improve your time management, your categories can be: priority, routine tasks and breaks.
Add Sub-Heads For Easier Understanding
Each category will be divided into sub-heads for a more comprehensive understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. If it’s a problem like creating a meeting schedule, you can further divide your categories—priority, status update and strategy—into smaller items like members, agenda and medium (video or in-person).
Break It Down
You can break it down into even smaller chunks to make it more detailed. These can include specific tasks, sub-topics and actionable items. Link these to each sub-category, which is further linked to the main categories. A mind map is not exhaustive so you can add as many nodes as you need to present the problem clearly.
Each node is connected via branches to other nodes. The main idea brings everything together. You shouldn’t have a disconnected or individual node as that’ll not form part of the mind map.
Creating mind maps is straightforward if you know where to start. If you like making lists to keep track of all your tasks, you’ll find that a mind map is equally helpful for many things. The next time you have trouble figuring out how to solve a problem, try to break it down into nodes and branches.
The Dos And Don’ts Of Mind Mapping
You may get carried away when creating a mind map because more than anything, it’s a creative outlet that gives you a chance to go wild. From colors to imagery, there’s no limit to what you can do with your map. But you should follow key rules for a mind map to work effectively:
Don’t make it wordy or else it can seem too dense for you to understand
Use symbols and a key to highlight categories—especially if there are more than five or six
You can cross-connect nodes if they form a relationship, so you don’t miss out on potential information
Come up with your own key to read your mind map or conventions that you can follow to keep it consistent
Make sure the headings are appropriate and contain exactly what you intend
Creating a mind map online is a lot more effective because that way it’s more legible. You can save it, alter or modify text and even add nodes as you gather more information. In the workplace, teams can create mind maps to stay on top of their tasks—it’s a great project management tool as well.
Solve Problems Systematically
Before diving straight into a problem, consider ways to simplify it. Mind mapping is a powerful tool to help you structure problems in a way that’s comprehensible. Structuring problems is the first step in problem-solving. Not only does it help you see what went wrong (and how) but also lets you map the problem from source to solution.
Harappa’s Structuring Problems course will teach you how you can classify problems into distinct groups—similar to mind mapping. Other frameworks like the MECE (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive) Principle and the Logic Tree help you break down problems. You’ll become an expert at problem-solving—a skill that’s highly valued in the workplace.
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