Mind Mapping for Innovation

A simple five-step Mind Mapping process to boost innovation in your company.

By ThinkBuzan | Posted 8/11/10 | Updated 5/22/23

We have all experienced the strain of working through the recession. The market is ruthless and for your business to stay ahead of the competition you must constantly develop and evolve. Innovation is a prerequisite not a bonus and so the ability to generate new ideas and find a fresh perspective is more valuable than ever. Find out how Mind Maps can stimulate innovation — whatever your business.

Creativity and Innovation

Innovation and creativity go hand in hand, and you cannot push forward and create a space for innovation within your company without first finding a way to enhance your collective creative skills.

"Wherever creativity goes — and, by extension, wherever talent goes — innovation and economic growth are sure to follow." —The Harvard Business Review

If you need to brainstorm an issue, develop a new product, deliver a marketing campaign, make a pitch for a deal or simply discuss a problem, creativity is key. Creating a Mind Map is an excellent way of coming up with creative ways to address the matter.

Here is a simple five-step Mind Mapping process for you to follow to create your own brainstorming Mind Maps and boost innovation in your company.

1 | The Quick-Fire Mind Map Burst

Mind Map ExampleBegin your Mind Map by setting your central idea, theme or topic. Choose a stimulating central image that represents the theme or topic you are addressing.

From your central idea radiate every idea that comes into your mind on that subject, dividing them into key ideas, or main brain branches. From your main ideas/branches add your sub ideas, or child branches. You should let the ideas flow as fast as possible. Having to work at speed unchains your brain from habitual thinking patterns, and encourages new ideas and innovation. Many of these new ideas may at first seem absurd, however they often hold the key to new perspectives and the breaking of old habits. The most innovative solutions come from the germ of an idea, and you want to encourage as many new thoughts and creative ideas as you can at this stage.

2 | First Reconstruction and Revision

Have a short break or move onto another task, allowing your brain to rest and begin to integrate the ideas generated so far. Then make a new map in which you identify the core ideas/branches, categorising, building up hierarchies and finding new associations between your preliminary ideas. Similar ideas may be repeated in different areas of your map, on different branches. These peripheral repetitions reflect the significance of the repeated idea as it is influencing multiple aspects of your thinking and should be pursued further as a lead to innovation.

3 | Incubation

After completing the above steps, take a break — innovation comes from those light bulb moments and these sudden creative realisations often occur when the brain is relaxed such as daydreaming, sleeping or running. This is because such states of mind allow the radiant thinking process to spread to the farthest reaches of the brain, increasing the probability of mental breakthroughs. The potential of focused daydreaming to help facilitate innovation should not be underestimated. Albert Einstein did it himself to help visualise and arrive at his famous theory.

4 | Second Reconstruction and Revision

After incubation your brain will have a fresh perception on your first and second Mind Maps, so it will be useful to do another quick fire Mind Map burst. During this reconstruction stage you will need to consider all the information gathered and integrated in stages 1, 2 and 3 of the process for generating innovation, in order to make a comprehensive final Mind Map.

5 | The Final Stage

Using your final Mind Map, you now need to search for the solution, decision, or realisation which was your original creative goal. This often involves doing further work on your Mind Map — making connections between branches and perhaps adding further sub-branches. The answer may not present itself straight away, so be patient, take another incubation break if you need to. Finding connections and patterns that you had not previously been aware of can lead to major new insights, breakthroughs and genuine innovation.

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." —Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and Pixar

Why Mind Maps are tools for Innovation

  • Mind Mapping by definition acts as a trigger device for your brain, creating an explosion in creativity, innovation and knowledge sharing.
  • Mind Maps are based on the fundamental principles of creativity and so they are perfectly suited to supporting ideas generation and innovation.
  • They allow you to view a great many elements all at once, thus increasing the probability of creative association and integration, and consequently, innovation.
  • Innovation is about originality and the cutting edge. They encourage your brain to track out ideas which normally lie in obscurity on the edge of your thinking.
  • They increase the probability of you straying far from the norm, exploring unconventional routes and producing a truly innovative idea.
  • They tap into your rational and grounded skills and your imaginative and free-associative skills, encouraging them to work together to amplify and focus your thinking — creating the perfect space for innovation.

©2010 by ThinkBuzan. All rights reserved.

BuzanTony Buzan (1942-2019) was the world-renowned inventor of Mind Maps, inspired by techniques used by Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Joseph D. Novak's "concept mapping." ...