Jun 4, 2011

7 mind map ideas to unlock creativity and innovation in your business – plus 14 free tools

by Digital Marketing Institute

Are you looking for a way to capture your ideas, in fact even unlock creativity in your business? They you might want to consider using a mind map.

Rather than listing out your ideas creating a mind map can unlock your thinking as you are not forced to create an ordered list. I often find that when considering a project or a problem, ideas or inspiration come to mind and the format of a mind map allows those ideas to be captured and built upon.

To get started creating a mind map you might want to use a flip chart or just a piece of paper. To unlock your creativity then just as you would when brain storming, start creating your mind map without evaluating the quality of your ideas.

In the center of your page or flip chart, note the central idea or project. From that you can create ‘branches’ which reflect the major parts of the issue or project you are working on. Each branch in turn can then be explored and you can create sub branches with more details.

Don’t be limited by using just a single color pen – have fun with your mind map and, use different colors and even use images rather than words especially if you are someone who thinks in a visual manner.

One of the great things about creating a mind map is that you can come back to the mind map at any time and adapt or build upon it. In fact if you use mind mapping software you can even re-order your ideas simply by dragging and dropping your content.

Once you have created your mind map you can then go back and review it and then start to prioritize your actions - for example, what will you do first, what resources do you need and who can help you deliver the project.

Here are a few ideas of what you could use your mind map to help you unlock your creativity with:

1Drafting your presentation, podcast or webinar content – developing a mind map will help you capture the ideas you want to share in your live event

2 - Kick starting a new project – use a mind map to explore the different areas you want to explore or consider

3Developing your team goals and objectives for the year ahead – using a mind map is a way to capture the ideas of all the members of the team

4Exploring your career development opportunities – perhaps you are considering a new role or have been made redundant, then create a mind map the options available to you in terms of finding your next ‘big gig’

5 - Drafting marketing plan for your business – it is no good having a great product or service if no one knows about it so using a mind map you could explore the new markets you want to enter to attract more sales

6Developing improved customer service – one of the areas that many businesses need to put in place are processes to ensure that every element of their customer journey works efficiently and this is especially important when it comes to ensuring there is a smooth hand over of accountabilities between members of your team – if writing a procedures guide turns you cold, then mind map the key elements of the process that are key in your business

7Capturing ideas for your ezines, blog posts or even your business book – creating a mind map to help you organize your thoughts for writing projects can unlock your creative content ideas. Also check out the suggestions I have here for using Google Wonderwheel.

If you prefer to use software rather than a pen and pencil for your mid maps here are a few free tools to consider:

- Bubble.us

- How to create a mind map in Microsoft Word

- IHMC mind map tools

- Mindmodo – their free version enables 3 free mind maps

- Freemind

- Seemantik

- Recallplus – use their free lite version

- Mindmeister – check out their free basic plan

- Mind42

- Wisemapping

- Personal Brain

- Freeplane

- Dabbleboard

- iMindMap – from the mind map expert Tony Buzzan check out the free version.

And if you want to take it up a notch, I personally use and recommend MindGenius which has a 30 day free trial because of the features it offers including import and export MS Project files, sending actions to MS Outlook, import and export MS Word files, export to MS PowerPoint, export to MS Excel, export to PDF.

What other tools do you recommend and how do you use mind maps in your business?

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