# Mind Map

# Phases: 🔎 🎨 Problem seeking, problem shaping
Focus: Empathize (problem seeking), diverge (problem shaping)


Time commitment: 1-3 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Materials needed: Users or internal stakeholders, meeting space (physical or virtual), whiteboard/stickies (physical or virtual)
Who should participate: Everyone (including users!)
Best for: Quick, high-level collection of topics, keywords, challenges and feelings relevant to a problem

# About this tool

Mind mapping (and all its variants) is a useful tool for getting a complex problem out of your or your users' heads and into a place that can then be grouped and used for future work. They're also helpful for creating a visual representation of how different concepts are related. Creating a mind map is simple:

  1. Gather your participants in a central physical and virtual place, with a large working canvas
  2. In the center of your working area, place a sticky note for the subject you want to map
  3. Generate initial branches out of your subject for main topics or areas of concern
  4. Keep branching until you run out of ideas and/or space

Note that because this is a fairly organic exercise, mind mapping really works best in a synchronous fashion. However, it can be timeboxed and hosted virtually in a way that shouldn't make this infeasible for a distributed and/or async org.

You may also wish to consider variations on a traditional mind map:

  • Concept maps start with multiple initial subjects, which can then be interconnected
  • Argument maps depict a tree structure with each of the reasons leading to the conclusion of a formal argument
  • Word clouds don't interconnect topics, but use different font sizes to indicate importance or frequency of topics (and, as such, benefit from using software to generate them