Why mind mapping is the best for design thinking

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The aim of this blog is to explore the concept of design led thinking and to confirm that mind mapping is the ideal if not only tool to be used for design led thinking. So what is design led thinking?  To describe design thinking I tried to discuss a definition and processes of design led thinking.  Tim Brown from IDEO (a respected though leader on the topic) define design thing as: “A system that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business can convert into consumer value and market opportunity.”. The process involves mainly 3 activities.  It starts with a discovery phase to understand the problem/issue which can be done through research to understanding (empathise) and defining of needs.  This phase is normally followed by the creation of ideas by looking for patterns and insights obtained during the discovery phase.  Ideas must/ can be expanded and/or simplified through a process of discussions etc. The ideas must become visible. A prototype or a tangible picture of the developed idea must be produced.  This picture must be visualised and described as a product or object to be reached.  After testing the vision can be put into effect. Mind mapping is the ideal method to get the vision to put into effect.  For me mind mapping is visual thinking to structure information through expansion and simplification of ideas/ topics using linkages/branches utilising various tools. Let’s illustrate this by using mind mapping at all the phase of design led thinking.  I will use Mindmanager 16 from Mindjet ( to illustrate. Discovery The mind map below is a visual representation of information regarding design led thinking structured in linkages and branches.  This is an expansion of information but also simplified in a structured manner.  Shown here is the main topic with three branches namely the definition of design led thinking, the rules and a summary of a possible process of design led thinking. Capturing Needs The example map below shows the breakdown of possible needs with a function to do brainstorming where any ideas about needs can be noted. A variety of tools in Mindmanager can be used to help with brainstorming.  In this case Idea Cards are being used.  The answers from these cards can be incorporated in the mind map. Creation of ideas by looking for patterns and insights After the brainstorming session, Mindmanager can be used to create order and structure to the information (I discuss the method in From chaos to simplicity – Mind Mapping).  This ordering process will create specific ideas through identification of patters and other insights. Prototype or a tangible picture A simple mind map that shows only the final ideas will provide a clear picture of the outcome of the design session and what needs to be done. Mind maps can be used for almost anything where the mind is concerned. From teaching, learning, report writing, project management, blogging and design thinking