Last reviewed: 1 February 2022


Mind mapping

Get ideas and thoughts out of your head and into the open.

  • 1 to 8 people
  • 10 to 30 minutes

Advice on mind mapping

Why create a mind map

You can use mind mapping to:

  • visualise your thinking
  • highlight themes in your thinking
  • explore a challenge that you are working on as a team
  • encourage thought about anything

Who is involved in mind-mapping

Mind mapping works as an activity on your own or as a team.

When to create a mind map

You can use it anytime and especially when:

  • you need ideas
  • there is a lack of direction for a problem
  • you want to encourage your team to collaborate with ideas

Things you’ll need

  • Information that will help, for example: outcomes, commercial situation, user research
  • a way for people to sketch their ideas
  • a timer and someone to facilitate

Tips on running the session

  • Typically team members create their own own mind-maps first, then share them with the group, if it’s a group activity
  • If you’re working as a group, make sure that you leave time to talk about the mind maps together
  • Try not to filter your thoughts and allow them to go in different directions


Related terms: align thinking, design and design thinking, working in the open.

See definitions of these terms in our glossary.

How to create a mind map

This is one way of doing this activity based on our experience.

You might want to adapt it or only use part of it.

Teams often find their own way of doing an activity. This is a guide to get you started.

  1. Welcome and introductions

    Welcome everyone to the session. Ask everyone to introduce themselves if the group do not know each other. You could also do a ‘Check-in’ activity.

  2. Introduce the aims for the session with your team, for example:

    “In this session we’re going to try and get everything we’re thinking about out of our head and talk about it as a team.”

  3. Discuss any blockers or limitations

    Allow yourself or your team to think in different directions. Try not to filter your thoughts.

  4. Introduce the thing using a visual example

    Agree the challenge or problem you are exploring in your mind map.

    Write the problem somewhere that everyone can access and so that there is space to add comments.

    Put the problem or challenge in the middle of the space.

  5. Agree how long you will spend on the mind map and set a timer./h3>

  6. Do the mind mapping activity

    Write out your thoughts and add them to the mind map.

    Everyone can add their ideas to the same map as they create them. Team members could also keep their ideas private until everyone has finished, then add them to the shared map.

    Use lines to link themes or sequences together as you or your team add them in.

  7. When the time is up, look over your mind map and highlight themes in a different colour pen.

  8. If you’re working as a group, take turns to read out your mind map and talk about themes together.

  9. Review the method or activity

    Let the group know what’s going to happen with the ideas. You could prioritise the potential ideas using the dot voting activity.

  10. Close the session

    Make sure everyone can access the activity information.

  11. After the session

    Next you could do a round of rapid eights to develop your thoughts into ideas.

To decide what you work on next, go to ways of working activities.

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