At Google's head office, they cover the walls. In Newsweek (Jan/06) Bill Gates talked about how they can be used to "help connect and synthesize ideas and data—and ultimately create new knowledge". Mind maps are tools which help you think and learn. My daughter uses them in school. I have been using them for years. Mindjet, the software I use to do them has over 500,000 users including those in 60% of the Fortune 100.
What are MindMaps? Developed at Cornell in the 60's, evangelized by Tony Buzan in the 80's, but dating back to Aristotle, Mind Mapping is a popular brainstorming tool and learning technique of visually arranging ideas and their interconnections. It allows you to create, capture, organize, and communicate complex ideas, information, and data in a way that is readily understood.
Why use them? Mind Maps are like steroids for the brain. There is a widespread belief that becase of their graphical nature they stimulate imagination and creativity, by connecting left and right brain thinking, that using them will help you harness the full range of your analytical and creative skills. Ever listened to a runner talking about their "high"? That's what its like reading testimonials from dedicated Mind Map users.
But can they cure Cancer? MindJet MindManager,the Mind Mapping software I use, was created from a programmer who developed the program from his hospital bed (at the thought he was dying of cancer). He believed that Mind Maps were the most important thing he could leave to the world. He has since recovered, and he has written his story in the book (The Cancer Code,www.cancercode.com). I know I'm a convert; I have used them to model many extremely complex systems with great success.
So, lets practice what I preach and continue in true MindMap fashion:
Uses of Mind Maps
How to do a Mind Map
Mind Maps in Action : Sample Hand-drawn Map from Tony Buzan
Tony Buzan is the person who really put these things "on the map"! Note the use of images, color, and other graphic elements to get both sides of the brain engaged.
Mind Maps in Action : Using Mind Maps to manage complexity
This is a snippet of a very large Mind Map about the Mind. Mind Maps are at their best when there is a great deal of complexity you need to get a handle on.
Want to learn more?
Its hard to do one wrong, so just experiment and have fun. If you REALLY want to know more about them just email me and I will point you in the right direction.