Mind-Maps - Break a Problem into it's Elements.

Mind-maps are a great way to break down a problem into its elements. This makes that problem easier to deal with. Professionals in companies use mind-maps to break down very complex problems into their components.

These have been around since the 4th century.

The first time I saw mind-mapping was when a new engineering manager introduced it to a development team in an electronics manufacturing company.

He had just joined the company and it was his first meeting. The project was not going well and there was a lot of confusion amongst the staff involved.

He stood up and started a mind-map.

By taking control of the meeting and mapping out the project and problems clearly, this engineering manager immediately had the ongoing respect of everyone in the room. We could then look at each of the individual problems and work on them.

A mind-map allows you to visually lay out all the parts of a problem or task.

Here is an example of a mind-map used to help manage the project of having a party;

This mind-map is used to help ensure we are thinking of all the important issues in having a party. When you start thinking about one part of it you soon find that this thinking leads into thinking into the next level of detail. For example if you think about whether to invite guys from the football club, you then need to consider how many of them are idiots who will cause dramas ;-)

This example shows a mind-map that goes out to 3 levels (eg. 1. Where to have it ? -> 2. At the beach ? -> 3. Anyone dumb enough to drown?). Imaging how big and complex a mind-map would be for a 3-day music festival. It would have hundreds of items and maybe up to 20 levels.

The more complex something is the more useful a mind-map is in helping manage it.

When answering an exam question, the process of drawing out the mind-map helps you think of other things to add into your writing.

Part of the power of a mind-map is the way it visually lays out the project. Our creativity is helped by this visual representation.