Evolution of Mind Mapping

Evolution of Mind Mapping

Seeing the World in a New Way

Tony Buzan’s mind mapping and techniques changed my life. They gave me the tools to start to think differently — not only about how to manage my own mind, but also how to help my clients innovatively transform relationships, teams and even their whole organization.

Mind mapping is a visual approach to thinking. It is visually organizing information around a central idea, then adding branches of related details (ideas, notes, images, tasks, hyperlinks and attachments) to flesh out the idea. You end up with a big picture clearly before you, and branches for tracking all the details.

What is so exciting about mind mapping is that its framework offers a way to think both analytically and creatively at the same time. A common analytical framework is to organize material around big ideas and sub‐ideas ‐‐ big concepts and then bulleted sub‐topics. Yet for people who have creative minds, it’s very difficult to think in a linear fashion. Creative minds make links that others don’t think of or see right away. Having the freedom to create links that don’t follow any type of logical order ‐‐ and to do it visually ‐‐ is at the heart of the mind mapping approach.

The Evolution of Mind Mapping

My company has evolved over the years to include mind mapping as part of the work I do with all my clients. When using mind mapping, I started noticing that drawing ideas in visual maps or “mind maps” facilitated my client conversations and enabled us to work out challenging ideas in a highly collaborative way – even when there were potential conflicts amongst team members. When we were graphically mind mapping, we could feel an organic shift take place that turned foes into friends, and ‘my idea’ into ‘our idea.’

Our conversations were so powerful, I gave them a special name ‐ Co‐creating Conversations®. The conversations seemed to simulate an experience of mind melding – a shift from I to WE — that had the power to quell the fear centers of the brain, and activate the partnering centers of the brain. As a result, people began to innovate and co‐create at levels far beyond what they had ever experienced before.

Recent studies have shown that when we feel deeply connected with others, our brains produce oxytocin. Nicknamed the “love hormone,” oxytocin has been shown to contribute to behaviors such as relationship building, bonding and collaboration in teams. Our brains also start to mirror each other’s brains — which scientists can even show on an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), a scan of the brain’s activity. When people are really connecting, they also are activating a special category of neurons called mirror neurons – which truly enable us to ‘see the world from another person’s’ eyes.


The combination of mind mapping and Creating WE, the philosophy behind my work, has been ideal for helping clients with some of their biggest challenges – for example, team members behaving like competitors and/or forming silos or exhibiting “us/them” thinking.

These two technologies give clients a way to create a safe space for breaking down barriers to trust.

One technique I invented using mind mapping tools I call Double‐Clicking. I gave it this name because the process mimics the ‘double‐clicking’ that we use when opening folders on the computer. When I use Double‐Clicking with teams, I ask them to delve into — or double‐click — on their individual mindscapes to share and compare word meanings and perceptions with each other.

Using Mind Mapping for Team Engagement

Double‐Clicking is one of the most powerful ways to create team engagement and shift conflicts into co‐creation. Here is a great example of the application of Double‐Clicking to create business success.

Most people define “success” very differently, but don’t realize it. One person may view team success as a lack of conflict, another as the ability to share differing ideas, and another sees it purely as a financial measure. By double‐clicking on success, individuals can begin to understand each other’s perceptions better and dramatically improve how they work together. Breaking down barriers and creating bonding is the secret behind double‐clicking.

Try This Double Clicking Exercise!

Here are a few things you can do to experiment with Double‐Clicking and mind mapping:

  1. Gather a group of people, or a team that are going to work together. Have them sit at tables — five to seven people per table, ideally.
  2. Pick a few key words or concepts that are vital to your organization’s success.
  3. Ask each person to individually mind map one key word – and when they get stuck or run out of ideas, to double‐click on an existing idea to discover other embedded ideas.
  4. Then ask them to share and compare the mind maps, looking for words and concepts in common.
  5. Work as a whole group to identify the most important linkages that emerge from the mind mapping process and merge them together in one big map.
  6. Repeat the process with other key words.

image credit: asiancorrespondent.com

Join the global innovation community

Don’t miss an article (4,250+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group!

Double-Click On Business SuccessJudith E. Glaser is a change agent and executive coach, and refers to herself as an organizational anthropologist. She is CEO & Founder of CreatingWE and the author of three best-selling books: Creating We, The DNA of Leadership and 42 Rules for Creating WE. Judith regularly appears on NBC Today, ABC, FOX, CNN and in the NY Times, BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur Magazine, WSJ and Harvard Business Review.  You can e-mail her at jeglaser@creatingwe.com

This entry was posted in Feature Of The Week and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Evolution of Mind Mapping

  1. Joan Holman says:

    Excellent article, Judith. Are you aware of the work of Dr. Jean Houston? She says we moving into a time where the right-brain feminine qualities, such as creativity and nonlinear thinking, which have been devalued and suppressed, will emerge to be equally valued with the left-brain masculine qualities of order, efficiency and logic. Dr. Houston said:

    “The feminine mind is concerned with the networking of the individuals within a larger social organism. The approach is systemic, rather than systematic. Women tend to see things in constellations, rather than in discreet and disconnected facts. The Father Mind, traditionally has to do with the individual being almost more important than the social organism. Men look for systems, being systematic, and also the linearity of facts.”

    • Judith E. Glaser says:

      So here’s what’s really interesting now. I gave a talk yesterday on just what Jean Houston talks about. We are evolving and our brains are designed for compassion, for connection, and constellations. I called my talk Our Time is Now!!!!!

      Also wonderful for you to know is that I worked with Jean Houston years ago…. she is an incredibly inspiring woman and I found her amazingly powerful in her vision and integrity….

      Small, small world!


  2. Liam Hughes says:

    Really interesting read Judith, I think you’ve explained the concept really well, and in particular, the value of mind mapping in helping you to think/work both creatively and analytically.
    People who are fans of mind mapping, or completely new to it may like to take a look at the mind map library at http://www.Biggerplate.com where there are thousands of examples and templates shared by mappers from around the world!
    Judith – I’d be interested in potentially putting together a short Q&A article about your use of mapping, so I hope you won’t mind me dropping you an email soon with regards to this?
    Best wishes
    Liam Hughes
    Founder: Biggerplate

  3. Ken Carter says:

    I am new to mindmapping. However, I have found it particularly effective in mapping suppy chains: trading partners, suppliers, customers. Provides a good visual on a company’s ecosystem and relationships between one company’s supply chain and its closest competitors. Great for ‘connecting the nodes.’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Keep Up to Date

  • FeedBurner
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Slideshare
  • Email
  • YouTube
  • IPhone
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Stumble Upon

Innovation Authors - Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson

Your hosts, Braden Kelley, Julie Anixter and Rowan Gibson, are innovation writers, speakers and strategic advisors to many of the world’s leading companies.

“Our mission is to help you achieve innovation excellence inside your own organization by making innovation resources, answers, and best practices accessible for the greater good.”