Business analysts use mind maps to document and communicate thoughts, ideas, and information. Mind maps use images, words, colour, and linked relationships to apply form and logic to thoughts, ideas, and information.
Mind maps are created by writing down the main idea and then other supporting ideas around it, and then as many layers of ideas as necessary to fully capture and express the concept.
Connections are made between ideas by branches that usually have a single keyword associated with them to describe the connection.
Mind maps can be created individually or as a group exercise. They can be created on paper or with the use of specific software.
Business analysts use mind maps to:
• understand and produce ideas on complex problems.
• investigate connections between the diverse aspects of a problem in a way that stimulates creative and critical thinking.
• show a combined view of difficult concepts.
There is no defined format for a mind map. The purpose of a mind map is to document information in a way that is similar to how our minds process information.
Mind maps have some components, which are:
1. Main topic: the main topic of a mind map is the idea that is being expressed. The main topic is at the centre of the images so that multiple topics and associations can be linked to it. Images are usually used as the main topic because they have a great deal of information and can be useful in prompting associated topics.
2. Topics: topics are the thoughts that explain the main topic. Their relationship with the main topic is expressed through a branch that has a keyword connected with it.
3. Sub-topics: sub-topics are thoughts that further explain the topic and are directly connected to the main topic. Their connection with the topic is conveyed through a branch that has a keyword associated with it. There can be as many or as few sub-topics as needed to fully investigate the concept of the main topic.
4. Branches: branches are the connections between the main topic, topics, and sub-topics. Branches include a keyword that clearly expresses the type of the connection.
5. Keywords: keywords are single words used to express the type of the connections of topics or subtopics connected by a branch. The keywords are used in both classifying the topics and for stimulating additional connections.
6. Colour: colours may be used to classifying, prioritizing, and assessing topics, sub-topics, and their connections. There is no established colour coding standard for mind maps. Each mind map creator uses colour in a way that best suits their way of thinking.
7. Images: images can be used in mind maps to convey large amounts of information that are unable to be expressed in short topic headings. Images are useful in inspiring creativity and innovation by creating additional thoughts, ideas, and connections.
Mind maps have both their strengths and limitations which include:
- They can be used as an successful collaborative and communication tool.
- They encapsulate complicated thoughts, ideas, and information in a way that shows the general structure.
- Connections and sub-topics help with understanding and decision making.
- It enables creative problem solving by expressing and creating new connections.
- It can be used to prepare and deliver presentations.
- It can be misapplied as a brainstorming tool, and this could limit idea generation.
- It can be difficult to explain the mind map to the stakeholders.