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Brainstorm Technique #2 – Mind Mapping



Screen shot from Bubbl.us –


Brainstorm Technique: Mind Mapping

A mind map is a method for drawing inspiration from a single word or concept to quickly inspire a web of “related” words. This web grows larger and more diverse at each level. As it expands to include a broader range of words and thoughts, it will create previously unexplored ideas and concepts. The key is to go quickly and write down any word that comes to mind. You never know where a word will lead, so it’s important to avoid editing yourself.

Ideal Activity For:
Idea generation, creative problem solving, business evolution or expansion

Brainstorm Tools:
4-6 20” x 30” (or larger) easel pads / dry erase board
permanent markers / dry erase markers

# of Participants:
1 – 15+

How To Brainstorm With A Mind Map:

  1. Review the Brainstorm Bill of Rights
  2. Review the Brainstorm Prep Checklist and answer the appropriate questions
  3. Gather needed supplies and book a conference room (if needed)

Brainstorm Intro: (approx. time varies by experience level)

  1. Review Brainstorm Bill of Rights with participants
  2. Establish the goal of the brainstorm by discussing the BrainBrief™
  3. Kick-off the meeting with an Icebreaker (if needed)

Brainstorm Part 1: (approx. 5-10 minutes per word/concept)

  1. Start with a clean easel pad or whiteboard with the central word or concept written in the middle of the board with a circle or a box drawn around it
    • This can also be performed online using a free service like http://www.bubbl.us/ (See below for a screen capture of a sample brainstorm)
  2. As participants shout out related words, draw a line that connects the thought to the root of inspiration
  3. Keep building the web outwards in all directions (see demonstration below)
  4. If there is a lull in activity, ask questions to spur additional conversation such as:
    • What is it about [INSERT THOUGHT] that makes you think of [WORD THAT INSPIRED IT]?
    • I’ve noticed some similar thoughts up here. What characteristics do these thoughts all seem to share?
    • If I said [INSERT THOUGHT] to you, what’s the first thing you would say back?
  5. Based on some of the farther out suggestions on the board, invite the group to provide solutions to the aim of the brainstorm using this inspirational foundation
  6. Highlight words that the group seems to show excitement for

Brainstorm Part 2: (approx. 10 minutes)

  1. Analyze the web for unique and interesting connections and use weighted voting to select the groups favorite options
  2. Ask each member to vote for their top 3 favorite ideas on the board. Instruct them to give their favorite idea 3 votes, their second favorite idea 2 votes and their third favorite idea 1 vote
  3. Tally up the votes and record the top vote getting ideas on a new easel pad
  4. Use this list of keywords as thought starters for the Part 3

Brainstorm Part 3: (approx. 5-10 minutes per concept)

  1. Begin a new mind map utilizing the keywords identified in Part 2
  2. Starting from these “out there” ideas begin to build back to the problem/opportunity that you’re brainstorming
  3. To build a bridge back to the original aim, ask questions such as:
    • How could we implement this idea today?
    • What technological or other obstacles are preventing us from accomplishing this today?
    • How does this idea fit with what we know about our key customers?
    • What’s the smallest change we can make to align this idea with those insights?
  4. Record all the ideas generated on a new easel pad
  5. As a group select the favorite ideas that closely align aim, challenges and opportunities laid out in your BrainBrief
    • Thank all the participants for their input
    • Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
    • Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the boards and notes for reference at a later date.
    • Collect ideas that can be implemented now on one page
    • Collect ideas that will require further effort, research or brainstorming on another list


  1. Thank all the participants for their input
  2. Select concepts for further development  (can be done alone or as part of the group)
  3. Be sure to capture all the notes and take them with you. It’s often easiest to take digital photos of the boards and notes for reference at a later date.


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