The 7 stages of the group mind mapping process

This article discusses the development of a group mind map as part of Tony Buzan’s mind mapping method. By creating group mind maps, several individuals can combine and multiply their individual creative skills. Use group mind maps, for example, to solve and analyze problems in a group, plan and execute projects. Project management in the group is dealt with in more detail here.

The group mind mapping process proceeds in seven main stages:

Definition of the object

Formulate the topic clearly and unambiguously, define the objectives and give the group members all the relevant information they need for their deliberations.

Individual brainstorming

Each group member should create, revise and correct a flash-mind-map for at least one hour. In this flash mind map, the main branches or GOI (Basic Ordering Ideas) should become visible. You can subordinate many other concepts to these key concepts. You can think of them as the chapter headings you would use if you wanted to write a book about the particular topic.

To create your flash mind map, it is best to draw a stimulating central image or write your central idea in the center of a large unlined sheet of paper. From there, let each of your ideas that come to mind about the topic radiate out in the form of branches. Let your ideas flow out of your head as quickly as possible. This should take you no longer than twenty minutes. If you work under time pressure, you free your brain from its usual thinking patterns and at the same time encourage new, often seemingly absurd inspirations. Be sure to engage with these as they break conventional, limiting habits and open up new perspectives as a result.

After you have created your flash mind map, take a short break to let your brain settle down. Gradually integrate the ideas you have generated so far. Then make a new mind-map in which you identify, connect, and categorize the main branches or GOIs. Build hierarchies, discover new associations and look at all your ideas anew in the context of the whole mind-map.

When you first revise your mind map, you may notice similar or even identical concepts. These are usually not mere repetitions, but the concepts are fundamentally different in that they tie into different central branches of your mind map. These ideas are actually very important, as they are buried deep in your knowledge store and obviously influence every aspect of your thinking. You should underline these terms on their second appearance, highlight them with a geometric figure on their third appearance, and frame them three-dimensionally on a possible fourth appearance to show their importance. By connecting these related three-dimensional terms on your mind-map, you can create a new mental framework, which in turn can lead to new unusual associations. A new idea, discovered on the edge of your mind-map and appearing more frequently, may become the new focus of an even more developed concept.

Small group discussion

The group now splits into small groups of three to five participants. Within each small group, members share ideas with each other and add each other’s ideas to their own individual mind maps. Set aside an hour for this. It is important that everyone adopts an absolutely positive, accepting attitude so that each idea is supported and embraced by all members. Indeed, an idea that originally seems silly or insignificant may turn out to be a fundamental insight as the chain of associations continues.

Creating a first multiple mind map

Use a very large canvas for recording the basic structure of the first multiple group mind map. Agree on color and shape codes to ensure clear and focused thoughts. Select basic order ideas as main branches and draw ALL these ideas into the mind map. While doing this, the group maintains its unreservedly positive attitude, as before in the small groups.

Incubation phase

In creative mind mapping it is crucial to let the mind map work. Figuratively speaking, incubation means the unconscious hatching of ideas in a relaxation phase after intensive thinking. As a group, take a break and relax. In times of quiet and solitude, the brain harmonizes and makes connections between the information it has absorbed so far. Often a sudden creative inspiration comes then.

Second review and revision

After the incubation phase, the group needs to repeat stage 2, 3 and 4 to capture the results of the newly thought through ideas and integrated thoughts. This means creating individual tempo mind maps again, creating a revised mind map showing the main branches, exchanging ideas, modifying the mind maps in small groups, and finally creating a second group mind map. To prepare for the final stage, compare the two large multiple group mind maps.

Analysis and decision making

In the final stage, the group makes important decisions, sets goals, drafts plans, and revises the mind map using decision-making methods, which we will discuss in more detail in another article.

In project management, creating a group mind map is especially useful when working in a project team or planning a project with a client. Group mind mapping is an excellent way to conceptualize a project. It will help you gather and present all the ideas and potential tasks for your project, both in collaboration with the members of the project team, as well as with the various other claimants. Once you have gathered all the information and sorted it by category in your mind map, the project will appear much more manageable as it shows all the tasks needed to implement it.

You can also create your mind maps digitally using mind mapping software to save yourself a lot of time. If you want to use mind-mapping in project management, it is recommended to use appropriate software for many reasons. Merlin Project is a professional project planning software for Mac that provides you with the answers to all your project planning, management and control questions. The mind map integrated in Merlin Project is of a systematic nature, which here means that it is specifically designed for methodical work in projects. Create the hierarchical structure of your project as a mind map and Merlin Project will automatically transfer your input to bspw. the work breakdown structure.

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