Friday, November 28, 2008

Creativity gone wild with mind mapping

Image by Trapac

One of our readers, Eduard, mentioned mind mapping in a comment in this post and I thought it would be interesting to share with you how I apply this technique to come up with ideas for blog posts.

Usually when we think about various creative aspects of our work, the tendency is to come up with an idea and then analyze it on spot. This is not productive, since it requires costly context switches. Mind mapping helps to avoid thinking linearly and it makes us produce as many ideas as possible first, postponing the analyzing phase.

I used the technique described here. The idea is to take the last five posts from your blog and brainstorm around them. For the purpose of this demonstration, I selected three random posts from our blog and set myself the task to come up with five ideas for each. The posts selected were:
A pen and a piece of paper could be ideal for doing this, as they make you step away from the computer and eliminate some distractions. On the other hand, working mostly with computers throughout time, I got to a state in which I type faster than I write, so I used an online application that is pretty fast in response.

The tool is called and it's a neat free web application, written in Flash. It that has some useful capabilities, like exporting the map to an image and collaborating with others, and some not very useful, in my opinion, like sound alerts.
Click on the image for a bigger version

Using mind mapping, I managed to come up with 15 different ideas in about 10 minutes, as you may see in the image. You actually only see the ideas, so you have to trust me for the time interval. Of course, it's not mandatory to write about everything that I came up with, but I got a couple of ideas to play with for new posts.

I find this technique to be as efficient as simple and I consider that it may be applied to a broad range of mental activities, like determining goals and directions for your projects, establishing new features, writing articles or letters, generating ideas for blog posts and also composing a post.


Eduard said...

Nice post indeed :). It is one of my favorite topics and I can go on and on about it. I will add something related to innovation process. The innovation mindset can be achieved very quickly if you follow some basic principles. The bible of innovation consists of one statement "First DIVERGE then CONVERGE" . Mind mapping is useful for both activities. First, starting from a central point , try to diverge radial finding as many ideas as you can no mater how crazy their are. Second step is to converge on those , using again mind mapping, by trying to construct valuable ideas based on the leafs of divergent mind map. But I consider to be the most important thing before going to innovation process is to define the problem that you are facing as good as possible. I can recommend also some interesting techniques (
I am using a lot SCAMPER (

Paul Marculescu said...

Eduard, please go on on the topic for as long as you desire. :)

Thanks for the links, looks like a rich resource for boosting creativity. SCAMPER seems to be a powerful technique, "asking" for mind mapping in every step.