Mind Map

A method to sort ideas or information concerning a topic.
Number of ParticipantsFacilitatorsCategoryDurationLevel of Difficulty
41 Note-TakerEmpathize, Define, Ideate30-35minSimple


A mind map is an easy way to brainstorm thoughts organically without worrying about order and structure. It allows people to visually structure their ideas to help with analysis and recall [1]. A mind map is a diagram for representing tasks, words, concepts, or items linked to and arranged around a central concept or subject using a non-linear graphical layout that allows the user to build an intuitive framework around a central concept. A mind map can turn a long list of monotonous information into a colorful, memorable and highly organized diagram that works in line with your brain’s natural way of doing things [1].
When trying to understand a subject, mind maps can be used anytime in the product design process. In the design thinking process, mind mapping is a useful exercise to do during the first three stages: empathizing, defining, and ideating. Furthermore, normally mind map is used for the time after empathize and define what the users need and we have to make a prototype. To make a prototype we need to have ideas. To come up with ideas, we do mind mapping. So mind mapping is used more in ideate phase.


  • White board and markers
  • White paper for each participant (preferably legal size or larger)
  • An assortment of colored markers for writing on paper
  • Tables for participants during the workshop


  • Determine the goal
  • Decide when and where it will be
  • Detail the activities in each section
  • Use improve games to warm up
  • Be mindful about brainstorming

Step-by-Step Instructions

In contrast to the traditional, linear notes you make in a text document, mind maps let you capture thoughts, ideas and keywords on a blank canvas where you can organize them in a two-dimensional structure. From the central theme associations radiate out. Associations directly from the central theme are called first level associations. Then second level associations are created, third level and so on. The brain thinks by imagination and association. When associations are created, connections are made. These connections are essential for remembering and thinking [2].

  1. Start with the main (central) concept
  2. Add connections to the main concept
  3. Explore topics by adding more branches
  4. Add images and colors

Remarks, Tips, Limitations

  • Speed
  • Transparency
  • Engagement
  • Focus
  • Flexibility
  • Efficiency
  • Adaptability
  • Mind mapping is an adjunct to regular reading and not a substitute to it [3].
  • It is difficult to change from linear system of note taking which everybody is taught since their childhood to a very different way. It requires great effort [3].
  • It is difficult to develop a good mind map of a totally new subject/ topic. It requires some prior information, then in such cases linear note taking may be a better option [3].
  • If not planned, creating a mind map may be frustrating because of lack of space, lack of creative thinking, etc. [3].
  • Mind mapping may not always be more intuitive than linear note taking [3].
  • Can be messy on paper [4].
  • Difficult to elaborate on tasks [4].
  • Can be time consuming to build a proper mind map [4].
Strengths: Offers a good overview of a topic, and helps to introduce sth. to people. Cheap method, that doesn’t require prior knowledge.

Weaknesses: Not a substitute to regular reading. Sometimes more complicated than linear note taking. If not well planned might get frustrating.


[1] https://www.mindmapping.com/mind-map.php
[2] https://www.mindmeister.com/blog/why-mind-mapping/#
[3] Spoorthi, R. B., Prashanthi, C., & Pandurangappa, R. (2013). Mind mapping; an Effective Learning Adjunct to Acquire a Tsunami of Information. Int. J. of Scientific and Research Publications, 3, 12.
[4] https://www.mlt.ca/post/the-pros-and-cons-of-mind-mapping

Contributed by Maria Abdollahi.