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  • Lyle Burns

Post Mortem Part 2: Mind Mapping

As you develop ideas based on all this information, consider trying out mind mapping. A mind map is a graphical way to represent ideas and concepts.

It provides a holistic, overall picture, showing all aspects of a topic by portraying different ideas radiating from a central thought or subject.

The diagram flows from 'main topics' placed on thick branches near the center to 'sub topics' on thinner branches, and finally 'details' on thin branches on the edges to show the links between different concepts.

The main purpose of using a mind map in this situation is to organize your thoughts and to visualize and outline your ideas for a subject or concept.

The University of Birmingham provides some simple rules on how to best create mind maps.

  • Use a blank, unlined, piece of paper turned to landscape orientation.

  • Lines will distract the eye and prevent you from reading the map quickly; landscape will give you more scope for creating horizontal branches.

  • Begin with your central idea.

  • Think about the main topics associated with your central idea.

  • Create thick branches radiating from the center - each thick branch represents one of the main topics you have identified.

  • Use a different color for each.

  • Draw thinner branches radiating from the thick ones, maintaining the same color scheme.

  • These represent the sub topics.

  • The thinnest branches - the details - then stem from the sub topics, reaching the edges of the mind map.

  • Again, these must be produced in the same color as the thickest branch.

  • Print key words (or very short phrases) clearly along the length of each branch (not at the end).

  • You may want to use upper case for the thick (main topic) branches and lower case for the thinner branches.

  • Use symbols and pictures to create memory associations.

  • You can add to any of the branches at any time and make links between branches.

  • When you have finished your mind map, think about how you might produce the information in linear form, perhaps by numbering each set of branches.

By creating mind maps, you gain some benefits such as a diagram focused on the links and relationships between ideas, so you don't just have disconnected facts.

The process of creating a mind map allows you to quickly generate creative and unique ideas in less time. It gives you the freedom you need when brainstorming so that the flow of ideas is not blocked or hampered like linear thinking does. By completing a mind map as part of your post-mortem you can effectively bring all the information coming out during this period of reflection together and potentially get insight and new ideas on where to go next in your career or creatively for your next project.

Furthermore, combining words and images on a mind map enhances memory and retention of your ideas.

If you haven't yet, read part 1 of our post-mortem series and learn about the importance of a growth mindset.


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