Mind Mapping Basics - From Exploration to Ideas

by Joe Doyon, on 8/20/19 4:42 PM

Mind Mapping -- Catchy phrase, but what is it? More importantly, how can you use it to increase real engagement and real outcomes? You know that each person on your team has valuable information so how do you get everyone to collaborate and share ideas? Mind mapping may be a good option and PineRock’s learning and performance teams have provided mind-mapping workshops for many clients.  As technology continues to evolve, we have embraced it and can provide it for your next meeting, event or training workshop.

What is Mind Mapping? 

PineRock_MindMap_4Mind mapping is an input process that allows users to capture information and work with it in a highly visual way. Simply put, it is a container that has allowed many PineRock clients to gather and analyze participant data.  This type of analysis gives clients a better overall view of the context, importance, and implications of their group’s input.

Digital mind maps have become sophisticated software platforms.  They provide a flexible process that makes it simple to move ideas around with little effort. Using facts, products, hyperlinks, task information, videos and other project data, the building process is a creative analysis of complex topics. Mind maps also enable

  • Ongoing clarification of ideas and detailed explorations as they are offered in the process
  • Tag and filter functionality which can group similarly connected data or can segregate it in customized ways
  • Integrations with business platforms such as SharePoint, Outlook, Word, and Excel

Users often find it helpful to view data from different templated perspectives to uncover previously not thought of additions to their mind maps.  The newest digital forms of mind mapping have evolved into online platforms that support a wide variety of applied capabilities. Various types of diagrams that visually hold large amounts of information are now available like flowcharts, swim lanes, concept maps, and background objects. For example,

...if you want to define a customer journey or teach your customers’ journey to new personnel during an onboarding event, online templates allow the gathering and presentation of mind maps as add-ons to other documents. They can also be embedded in presentations or accessible to any public or private person or groups online.

Online Mind Mapping

Many online mind mapping services are free. Some services break down several vertical business areas and provide customized services. For instance, Lucidchart provides customized services to Software Engineering, Operations, Network Engineering, Sales/Marketing, UX/Product Design, and Education. Another online service, Mindmups offers many different ways to access the service depending on your business requirements. If you want to use the service one time you can do that for free. If five people want to collaborate through their online platform 10 times there is a price for that. Mind mapping in the cloud enables services to be flexible and customized.

PineRock_MindMap_2At PineRock, we have often used mind mapping in sales training workshops or as part of product launch planning sessions. Mind mapping and collaborative processes can reveal logical, creative thinking that leads to innovative new sales solutions.

The goal of the workshop is to engage each rep by asking them to contribute their thinking about approaches to their customers. Inputs to the mind map may range from marketing materials to customer sales data, to anecdotal customer quotes. Once the mind map is fully constructed, participants have a tool to use later that helps them formulate new ways to approach their customers.

We have also found that whether our clients are setting up an annual planning session for company leadership or thinking through content for an event, mind mapping can be used to break down large projects or topics into manageable parts. We can then connect distributed work groups across the client enterprise for input through the mind mapping platform. As a result, planning becomes more effective and less overwhelming.

Mind Map Components 


Central Concept - The central image represents the problem/challenge. The branches are the collaborative responses. Additional concepts are added through participant brainstorming and are based on where the discovery process drives the diagram. This can be the result of group assigned tasks, descriptive language, concepts, data or items linked to and arranged around the central concept.

Branches and Topics - A mind map uses a non-linear graphical layout that supports the building of an intuitive framework around a central concept. Branches radiate out from the central concept graphically representing the key words and describing the topline ideas. From the branches, topics are added pertinent to the central concept. New central concepts may grow out from the original diagram making it possible to illustrate parallel issues in the discussion.

Final Map - The final map is a digital depiction of the Central Concept, the branches and the topics. It is the result of the collaborative efforts of multiple stakeholders. Most importantly it is dynamic and can be changed throughout all stages of the process. For instance, the central concept might emerge out of planning sessions where many decisions need to be made and multiple stakeholders have a voice in a complex solution. It might also be a learning goal(s) that needs discussion and collaboration to sort out how it is best addressed by an organization.

There are many excellent mind map tools available.   Contact Us to see how PineRock's Learning and Performance team can help you create your next mind-mapping workshop.