I've not often used mind mapping as an idea capture technique because it didn't seem to suit my personal style. However, recently a colleague recommended I try it again, and I now like it!
Wikipedia describes a mind map as:
"... a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.
The elements of a given mind map are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts, and are classified into groupings, branches, or areas, with the goal of representing semantic or other connections between portions of information. Mind maps may also aid recall of existing memories.
By presenting ideas in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, mind maps encourage a brainstorming approach to planning and organizational tasks. Though the branches of a mindmap represent hierarchical tree structures, their radial arrangement disrupts the prioritizing of concepts typically associated with hierarchies presented with more linear visual cues. This orientation towards brainstorming encourages users to enumerate and connect concepts without a tendency to begin within a particular conceptual framework.".
In workshops for clients I've started creating maps on whiteboards and flip charts, but I also like to capture thoughts in this format directly into my PC where I archive everything of value.
I've found the following software options seem to work best for me:
- FreeMind is free PC mind mapping software which I've found to be functionally strong, easy to use and creates mind maps which are very visually presentable (eg in client reports);
- I also sometimes use Personal Brain but even the free option is significantly more functionally extensive than just mind mapping, so I don’t find it as easy to use as FreeMind;
- on my iPhone I use Simple Mind - whilst there is a free version which creates jpg images in your phone's photo camera roll the paid version also saves out to the web in pdf, jpg and freemind format for further editing on your PC.
What do you use?