A concept tree is a powerful, visual way to leverage current ideas to generate dozens of others, and find a unique solution to your challenge. It’s also useful if your original idea is too general, has some limitations or is not actionable. A sample of a concept map is shown at right; please click on the image to view the full map.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to create one, using mind mapping software:
- List your overall objective as the central idea of your mind map
- Radiating to one side, list your initial ideas for solving the challenge.
- Next, for each of your initial ideas, brainstorm related but non-specific concepts, and add them as subtopics of these ideas. Related concepts are fair game. At this point, you’re simply trying to create jumping off points for new ideas.
- For each concept you brainstormed, generate related ideas and attach them as sub-topics to the concepts you identified in step 3.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you run out of ideas. Note how the map can continue with successive levels of concepts and ideas, as shown under “make conference calls” and “telecommuting program” (you’ll need to click on the image and view the larger version of the map to see these details).
Source: The Innovator’s Toolkit: 40+ Techniques for Predictable and Sustainable Organic Growth by David Silverstein, Philip Samuel and Neil DeCarlo.