Recently, I asked the readers of this blog to share their thoughts and insights into what makes a great mind map. The response was amazing – over 40 comments were submitted during the last three weeks. Thank you for sharing! Here is a summary of your awesome contributions:
A great map is one that totally fulfills the purpose for which it was created. Some maps are strictly personal in nature, and only need to be relevant and meaningful to the person who created them. Other maps are meant to be shared with others, which means they must be as clear and intuitive as possible. This is often easier said than done!
A great mind map conveys information as simply and as neatly as possible, with just the right amount of information.
A great mind map contains topics and sub-topics that make sense and flow well. Ideally, it should do an effective job of conveying its key message when only the top level of topics is displayed. If it can do this, then expanding it will only make things better. If it doesn’t do this, then the bigger it gets, the worse it gets.
Great mind maps often incorporate notes, document and web page links to help explain and interpret information; this extra level of depth can transform a visual map into a multi-faceted dashboard, a visual database.
A great mind map enables you to filter its content to expose different perspectives on your information; this often leads to fresh insights and ideas. The ability to move topics around a software-generated visual map plays a similar role in helping you to consider topics within new contexts, and to generate fresh ideas and insights from them.
A great mind map is a springboard to new ideas. It invites you do some deep reflection on the information, knowledge and ideas you have captured so far. This process often sparks new ideas or novel insights, based upon mental associations and juxtapositions that are triggered by the process of reviewing and reflecting on the contents of your map. In other words, the ideal mind map is a creative catalyst.
Finally, a great mind map delivers a superior ROI – return on ideas – and spurs you to take action on the plans that you have visually defined.
Reading through all of these comments, I was very inspired, and I hope you will be, too. I also encourage you to add your voices to this ongoing conversation!
You may also want to check out a mind map of the conversation, which reader Jim Deiner thoughtfully created and sent to me. You can download it as a PDF file or as a MindManager MMAP file. Thanks, Jim!