Over the past few decades, mind maps have become one of the most popular tools for those who need innovation and solutions. The creator of this method has pointed out that what makes them effective is that they complement the way that our brains think naturally. And this is why most people usually learn how to use them very quickly.
As a confirmation of their popularity, there is countless mind mapping software packages available in the business marketplace. And some of those packages are very expensive too. So let us examine more about mind maps.
How to Use Mind Maps
Consider your mind map to be like a tree with many branches. Your central topic (or problem) is the trunk of that tree.
Identify the Central Topic – Take out a piece of paper (or white board) and write that central topic in the middle of that piece of paper inside of a bubble.
Identify All the Major Factors affecting that Central Topic – Write those factors down on your paper inside bubbles that surround your central topic bubble. Draw lines from the central topic bubble to each of those major factor bubbles. Consider these major factor bubbles to be the main branches of your central topic tree.
Identify the Minor Factors that affect all of the Major Factors – Write those minor factors down inside bubbles that surround the proper major factors. Now draw lines from each major factor to their corresponding minor factors. These would be the smaller branches of your tree that connect to the main branches.
Continue Adding Factors to your Mind Map – Keep thinking of factors that affect the central topic and place them in the proper places within your mind map. Over time, you will begin noticing that you have listed all the vital factors that affect your central topic on your mind map – and these factors are all very organized into their neat little groups.
From a management standpoint, you could then do a number of things from your mind map. You could assign each major factor group to a member of your research team and let them brainstorm further for solutions.
Expanding the Use of Mind Maps
We illustrated in the last section how a mind map could be used to solve problems. Now let us look at how they can be used for creative purposes.
Suppose you are a middle manager and are looking for a way to increase production for one of your assigned manufacturing processes.
Your central topic would be something like “Increase Production”.
The next thing you and your team would do is list the major factors affecting the production of your process. On those, you might list things like “People who Run the Machinery”, “Current Settings of the Machinery”, “Materials Used in the Process”, and the “Procedures that Govern the Process”.
Now your team would start listing the minor factors that affect each of these major factors. For instance, let us examine the major factor “Current Machine Settings”.
As minor factors affecting machine settings, we might list “Belt Speed” “Fill Rates of Product into Package” “Machine Temperature”, and “Machine Hydraulic Pressure”. Now we can list factors that affect each of these minor factors – and your mind map keeps growing.