Mind Maps

A mind map is a diagram that is ideal for brainstorming, planning, information gathering, data presentation, and many other uses.

What makes a mind map so effective is that it allows us to use both sides of our brains at once. The left side of the brain controls logic, analytics, and details. It is very structured and organized. The right side is creative, imaginative, and likes to think freely. In business, when someone says "think outside the box," what they really mean is to move away from the left side of your brain for awhile and allow your brain's right side to daydream, explore, and think about the "bigger picture."

This is when a mind map can be an invaluable tool. Rather than using a lined note pad and making lists, a mind map allows more creative thought processes to surface.

But it doesn't do this at the expense of the logical left half of the brain. A mind map also allows thoughts and ideas—no matter how imaginative they might be—to be organized in a thoughtful and logical way.

A mind map encourages a "mind meld" of the entire brain.

How to Create a Mind Map

Many diagrams such as flow charts, org charts, and network diagrams follow a fairly rigid set of standards. Mind maps are an exception to this. It's really up to the user to create a mind map that suits their mind's eye.

The most basic way to create a mind map is with a pen and paper or a whiteboard.

Mind map on paper

While this is a cheap way to create a mind map, it also has drawbacks, particularly for business people. If you want to make changes, it can get messy in a hurry. It's impractical to easily share and collaborate with others. And it's not suitable for publishing in a report or using in a presentation.

High-quality mind mapping software such as SmartDraw solves these problems. In the same amount of time or less, you can capture the same information and create a mind map that looks like this. This is a polished result that is easy to edit, share, and publish.

Business strategy mind map

10 Uses for Mind Maps

Mind maps have an almost limitless number of uses. They are a powerful tool because they allow you to think visually, using pictures to solve problems, plan strategies, and to communicate ideas clearly.

The diagram below shows ten uses for mind maps.

10 uses for mind maps

Additional Mind Mapping Resources

Video: How to Make a Mind Map with SmartDraw

This informational video offers a brief overview of how to start mind mapping with SmartDraw. Starting with a mind map template, this video takes you through the basics of creating a SmartDraw mind map. In just a few minutes, you can learn how to create professional mind maps to brainstorm and present ideas, run meetings, and more.