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8 Ways To Use Mind Maps For Business

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8 Ways To Use Mind Maps For Business

A few years ago I was introduced to Mind Maps by a colleague as a way of organising and structuring my thoughts. It took me some time, but eventually I’ve got to a place where I am using Mind Maps consistently both in my professional and personal life.

For those of you who have never come across Mind Maps before it’s worth having a quick look at an overview on this Wikipedia page, before reading the rest of my post.

I will now share with you some thoughts I have about where Mind Maps can be used effectively in business

Related: 12 Ways To Improve Productivity At The Workplace

  1. Time Management

    Mind Maps are a great way to quickly draw up an overview of your yearly, monthly, weekly and daily objectives.  I find Mind Maps a great way to visually prepare the upcoming week, and plan my priorities for each day.  I’ll usually do this on a Monday, print it out and stick it on the wall above my monitor, where it is easy to see.

  2. Presentations

    A Mind Map is mnemonic by nature ie. it’s a memory tool that works for you as a presenter, and for your audience.  It can be used at the start to give a big picture of what will be covered, referred to again at certain key points, and used as a way to summarise key points at the end.  Personally I haven’t yet taken the step of presenting to an audience using Mind Maps, but increasingly I’ve been using them in one to one presentations, most notably with my manager and colleagues when I’m trying to get an idea or concept across to them.

  3. Project Management

    Recently my manager has started giving me more project management responsibilities.  I’ve never had any formal project management training, however I’ve increasingly found myself using Mind Maps at certain phases of the project.  It has been really helpful in scoping the project, and keeping track of the main milestones.  However I’ve found it less useful for task management.  I have done some research and found some Mind Mapping software that integrates task management, so this is something that I could return to in the future.

  4. Group Brainstorming

    One of the problems I see with group brainstorming is the tendency for some individuals to take a back seat and let others come up with all the ideas.  I recently worked on a project with some colleagues, which at one point required brainstorming, to generate ideas.  All of us were familiar with Mind Mapping, so before jumping straight into a group discussion, we decided to create individual Mind Maps where we could gather our own thoughts on the subject.  The group discussion then started with each person doing a 5-10 minute presentation of his/her Mind Map.  I found this approach much better at getting ideas out in the open, and most importantly, getting everyone to contribute.

  5. Become a Better Leader

    Part of being a good leader is being an effective communicator.  I’ve been a recent convert to “The Apprentice”, and I’m currently watching both the UK and Irish shows.  One of the things I really like about the show is seeing where things have gone wrong, and hearing the feedback that teams get in the boardroom.  In a lot of cases, failure in the early tasks is down to poor communication among sub-teams.  Mind Maps is an excellent tool for communicating the objective of a project, the different tasks involved, and most importantly the role and function of everyone in the team.

  6. Strategic Thinking

    Back in my university days we studied quite a few strategic models e.g. The Product Life Cycle, SWOT analysis, The Marketing Mix (4Ps), PEST (macro environment analysis).  When I discovered Mind Maps, it struck me that they provide a fantastic format to create, modify, display and share the strategic level ideas from these models.

  7. Personal Development

    I’ve recently been utilising the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology as a way of becoming more productive both at work and at home.  One of the things that I’ve picked up from GTD is the importance of taking a step back and getting the big picture in terms of your goals, objectives and development.  I’ve found Mind Maps to be an excellent way to capture such high level thinking, on a single page.  I’ve printed this out and put it on my wall, so that I can have a daily reminder of what’s important, in the long term.

  8. Blogging Ideas

    I have a single Mind Map which I use to capture all my ideas for blogging topics.  Each week when deciding a topic to write about, I simply open the Mind Map and pick something out of my idea bank.

Related: 5 Ways To Develop Productive Work Environments

So as you can see there are many opportunities where Mind Maps can be used in the world of business.  If you’ve floated on the periphery of Mind Mapping and want to know more I’d highly recommend that you check out the book that really made me take Mind Maps seriously.  It’s called Use Your Head by Tony Buzan.

I’d be keen to know your thoughts on Mind Maps.  What do you think of the tips? Can you see yourself using Mind Maps in these ways?  Are you already using Mind Maps?  If so, how?  Let us know via the comments.

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I live in Kilkenny, Ireland, and I'm married with one daughter. I was born in Derry, and came to Kilkenny via Manchester, England, and Dublin. My passion is all things Social Media, and for the last 2 years I have been working as a Social Media Evangelist for Oracle, where I have worked for the last 8 years. This role entails, promoting the use of Social Media internally for improved communication and collaboration. My other interests include sports, especially football (soccer), reading, video games, movies/tv, music and walking.

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  • Cool post Frank. Love the group brainstorming idea.
    We used to use mind maps to track the company’s progress. Not sure why we dropped it but it was a great way to visualise how we were doing…

  • Hi Frank, I use brainstorming a good bit and I concur with Fred, I love the idea of getting everyone to do and present their own mind map so as to get everyone involved. I’ve also watched a few episodes of the apprentice from time to time, while the standard often annoys me, I can really see how mind-maps would help the contestants and I’m surprised that no one has used them yet?

  • This is a great post Frank!
    I attended a training session recently, and the trainer / presenter used ONLY mindmaps, and also introduced us to them. I have been thinking about them a lot lately, and like everything, i know it takes time and practice to get the hang of them.
    But your pointers above really state the case for them, so Buzan’s book has moved to No 1 on my next “Books to buy” list.

    I should probably start with something easy – like blogging – that’s a great idea…
    Thank you!!!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Frank

    I enjoyed your post primarily because I’d written off mind maps a long time ago. I read Buzan’s book, put it aside and forgot all about it. It had no impact for me. I had to use mind mapping to do my conceptual framework for my masters research and I found it difficult-maybe I need to practise as you’ve said it does take practice.

    Obviously in our industry we’re brainstorming regularly, probably an average of 3 times/week, so any technique that could help in that process would be great. I’ll re-read Buzan ….

    Thanks Frank

  • Great post Frank. I find mindmaps very helpful in accessing the creative brain and generating new ideas and associations. Like Magsdurand, I’ve fallen out of the habit of using mindmaps recently, but your post has encouraged me to give them a try again.

  • Patrick Cutajar

    Thanks Frank for the post.
    I occasionaly, (once a week), use Mindmap and find them useful, although after following your views I will try to get more out of them in business.

  • Thanks for the post, Frank. For over 15 years, I have used MindMaps to scope out projects both work-related and personal, to prepare presentations and reports, and to take notes at conferences, which makes content instantly retrievable and useful. I also routinely use MindMaps to compare ‘planned’ activities to those actually accomplished….it’s made task planning/management more realistic. Tony Buzan is a genius; all of his books/writings are worth reading.

    I think your idea of using the MindMap as a platform for group brainstorming is brilliant; I’ve used it as a device for recording group ideas, but had never thought of having each member create his/her own map to share with the group. One of Buzan’s points is that people really do NOT all think and make connections in the same way. As well as giving everyone a voice, I can see this technique as lending great insight into the diversity of approaches and points of view among ostensibly like-minded people.

  • Nice post Frank. I’d been introduced to mind maps when I first started studying NLP and found them tedious at the time. Recently though I’ve been using them a lot for sorting out my ideas, structuring my coaching programs and trainings. Such a useful tool once you get used to using it. It’s really great too for keeping ideas that might get shelved now, however could be beneficial at a later date.

  • All great ideas. I created a Mind Map to illustrate all the moving parts of the small business “Online Marketing Ecosystem”. It helps me convey the complexity of the overall process to prospective clients with a simple visual representation.

  • Hi Frank. I love mind-maps and use them at every opportunity. Blogging ideas, defining business direction and possible strategies, marketing ideas, the list goes on and on.

    The trick with mindmaps is to make sure that they don’t become too “bogged down” in detail – keep each bubble to a couple of words – otherwise you can end up writing an essay and it doesn’t serve its purpose. This comes with practice though.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Fred. I’m also guilty of having peaks and troughs in my usage of mind maps, the important thing is to stick with it. My experience is that people respond much better to a message when they receive it visually.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Niall. One criticism I have of The Apprentice is that they push the show in a certain direction for entertainment purposes, via their editing. Perhaps some contestants do use Mind Maps, but we’ve just never seen it.

  • Anonymous

    Great idea to start with something easy. One Mind Map that I do weekly is a simple overview of who is responsible for putting our daughter to bed each night, and getting up if she is unsettled. We pin it up on the fridge each Sunday evening, and then there’s no arguments about who did what earlier in the week.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Mags,

    Glad to hear that you’ve been motivated to give MindMaps another look. One thing I’d advise is not to take Buzan too literally. There are a few things which he proposes that just aren’t for me.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Marie. It’s very much like exercise, the more we do it, the better we get.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Patrick. Glad to hear you are going to try more out of Mindmaps for business. Please come back, and let us know via the comments how you get on.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your excellent feedback Kathleen, I very much appreciate it. I got the idea about the individual creation of a mindmap, and presenting it back to the group, from one of Buzan’s latest books. I’ve tried it on a few work projects and it has been very productive.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment Mairead. I’m a bit like yourself in that I’ve flirted in and out with my usage of Mindmaps. Some aspects I find tedious and other’s I find really useful. It’s all about finding what works for you.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comment and a great example of how you are using Mindmaps. It’s such a fantastic medium for getting across complex ideas.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the tip Barney. I agree that it’s good not to go into too much detail. I must say that I struggle with Buzan’s process which requires one word per branch. Normally I limit myself to a few words or a short phrase.

  • Ann

    Great post Frank – thank you! I learned a bit about Mind Maps some years ago and one idea I learned was to use images only rather than text, particularly if you’re a more visual person, to help you memorize the various components of the map better. Thought it was interesting. Need to put it to work more myself now!

  • Mfhoward

    Hi Frank,rnrnReally like the MindMap idea. I am a Trainer and one of my courses ‘Worklife Balance’ incorporates this thought process and my clients find it really works in every aspect of their life.rn rnValeriernrn

  • Nutan Erathi

    Great Post ! I think I need to implement the GTD methodology and be an effective communicator for my project to be a success. Visualize the outcome is one way of mind mapping, because this is one way I work on my ideas.

  • gwchandler

    Valerie,nnI am a college student, and am doing a research paper on mind maps and training. I just saw your post as I came across this site, and was going to see if I could use your ‘Worklife Balance’ presentation as an example in my paper. I have to have a sample to refer to. If you wouldn’t mind, I would like to get more information on it, if you are willing. Thanks!nnGarrett

  • Noel Wilson

    Agree Mind-Maps are a great tool that can be used in just about any area. I use them a lot when designing training programs. Useful too for problem analysis and excellent study aid, particularly for visual oriented learners. I’ve used them for job/task analysis, great way of capturing the key knowledge, skills and atttribs and spliting out the soft skills and the tech skills.

  • Brilliant interview Ivan! This is really great interview for aspiring onlineu00a0entrepreneurs, a must watch!u00a0Thanks to Anitau00a0@smallbiztrends:twitteru00a0for providing such wonderful and practical advice, she’s an inspirational lady and has always been very supportive of the Bloggertone community.u00a0

  • What a great interview, so many great tips and ideas. It is really interesting to hear that having a product aimed at small businesses can work so well and be so profitable. I am often concerned that by aiming at small businesses I could be limitingu00a0my business potential and income but Anita has shown that if you find a niche and do it well then then there are great rewards. u00a0It is also reassuring to hear her say that having the link between herself and her business is one of the income streams for the business. Loving all of the video interviews. Keep them coming.

  • Thanks Ivan,nGoing to check that out now.u00a0

  • Great interview Ivan, lots of great tips in there, I’ll be watching it again and again to make sure I don’t forget anything.n

  • Hi Daniel, nice to see someone else talking about the good uses of Twitterfeed.u00a0 I’ve been using it for nearly a year now and wouldn’t be without it.u00a0 I (mistakenly) thought most people were using it for publishing RSS feeds that they found useful.

  • Hi Mairu00e9ad. That’s not a mistake! I think that’s what a lot of people DO use it for, but publishing your own content with it is just an extension of that I guess.u00a0

  • Thanks for the comment, Niall. Have used Hootsuite a little too. Not sure if Twitterfeed really has any advantages over that. Either way you can mix automated posting with a little real-life stuff I gues!

  • Niall, thanks for sharing the slide deck on creating an internet marketing strategy. At the end of the day the funnel analysis and analytics in general need to be guided by a strategy and objectives as opposed to being ad-hoc changes.u00a0nnThe analysis of drop-offs as you progress through a funnel generates some good discussion as to the reasons why? The numbers show the drop-offs, but not the reasons and that where the interpretation comes in.u00a0

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  • Hi Ben, I really like “Social is a habit so build it daily”, these are some great tips and thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks Niall – it was a tough at first to get out there and engage, but the benefits are considerable and it is now (almost) second nature.

  • Thanks Keith. Great site – I see you already have subscribe and feedburner info so you are well on the way. I had the same yet I was getting nowhere, so I highlighted them using a plugin and now I am starting to highlight the benefits to users of signing up. It is early days but feedback from users has been very positive. I love your phrase ‘no pestpassing’ 🙂

  • Great post Ben,

    You followed all your own advice – well done!

    I enjoyed – Emulate. Practise. Refine. Repeat. – it is so tempting to fall into the imitate hole when we find great blogs and ideas – challenge is to stay true to our own personalities when researching and writing – I read a tip a few days ago about rehashing older (and still relevant) blog posts – what’s your thinking on that?

  • Hi Elaine – Thanks! Consider bringing a new perspective to an old problem, by all means – perhaps using a different format rather than just a straightforward re-hash of a post. The way users consume information is constantly changing so consider translating to video, or incorporating in a wider series via an eBook or Howto Guide. Also, be sure to use the ‘most read’ plug-in to keep relevant posts on the landing page. If it ain’t broke………

  • nice to see a fellow Zen enthusiast – am working on a Zen blog soon

  • Yup! There is nothing worse than micromanaging. It kills responsibility and creative thinking, wastes everyone’s time, and displays a total lack of faith in the team. Total waste of time

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