Homemind mapwhat is a mind map

What is a mind map?

Mind map in Miro

Understanding mind maps

Mind maps are simple yet powerful diagrams for quickly jotting down your ideas and expanding on them. And with the right tool, they can be the perfect outlet for any brainstorming or ideation session. We’ve prepared the ultimate guide to what a mind map is, including all its key benefits and how you can get started.

Let’s dive in.

What is a mind map?

A mind map is a simple but powerful diagram that outlines your ideas in a visual format. Creating a mind map adds structure to your thoughts, giving you a clearer picture of every idea and how they relate.

Mind maps usually contain a central idea placed in the middle of the diagram, which you can break down and expand on using branches — typically represented by lines. This simple format makes mind mapping especially great for brainstorming and ideation.

For example, let’s say you’re creating a mind map about product development. You’d write ‘Product development’ in the middle of your map, and probably add branches that each point to one of the following sub-ideas:

  • New features

  • Customer feedback

  • Market trends

  • Competitor analysis

You might also want to connect some of your subtopics to each other. For instance, if you have customer feedback about a new product feature that aligns with trends in the marketplace, you could connect these two ideas to highlight their relationship.

Why use mind maps?

We know what a mind map is — but what makes them so effective? Simply put: the way a mind map is structured mirrors how the human brain works. Every time a piece of information enters your brain, it gets added to a complex neural network made up of central nodes connected by smaller branches.

In other words, it’s exactly what a mind map is.

Unlike note-taking, for example, which requires you to list your thoughts out linearly, mind mapping makes it easy to process your thoughts holistically — just as your brain does. It allows you to identify multiple thoughts at once and instantly draw connections between them, making it ideal for activities like brainstorming and ideation.

We’ll cover the specific benefits in more detail in the next section.

What are the benefits of mind mapping?

Mind mapping offers numerous benefits that can enhance learning, productivity, and creativity. Learning about these advantages helps form a more solid understanding of what a mind map is. Let’s take a look:

Generate new and creative ideas

Mind mapping is a great way to encourage innovative thinking and develop new ideas. The visual format encourages teams to break free from conventional thinking patterns and venture outside the box. It also helps teams generate new ideas by building on top of contributions from other team members. For example, if someone suggests an idea for a new software feature, it might spark a new idea for someone else.

Make complex ideas easier to understand

A mind map is a simple way of breaking down a complex idea into smaller, more manageable parts. Think about a website launch as an example. There are many complex and technical elements to planning a website launch, but a mind map helps you break it down and visualize how all the different parts work together.

Effective planning

Mind maps are excellent tools for planning projects, outlining articles, or creating strategies — providing a visual roadmap that helps communicate the entire scope and sequence of a project.

Improve collaboration

Mind mapping is an excellent place to start boosting team collaboration. It helps teams work together by encouraging open communication and discussing new ideas. Collaboration becomes even easier if you use the right mind mapping tool. Miro, for example, comes with powerful live and async collaboration tools. You can tag team members in comments, upload visual notes, and easily add your mind map to presentations.

What type of projects are mind maps used for?

Mimicking the way our brains naturally associate and connect ideas is what a mind map’s design is all about. This makes them an effective tool for brainstorming, problem-solving, and strategic planning. Below are some common scenarios where using a mind map is helpful.

Project ideation

Use a mind map to generate new ideas for upcoming projects. You can discuss what type of projects you should run, why they’ll benefit the business, and what those projects should involve.

Process improvement

Mind maps help you identify new ways to improve your existing processes. Think about HR processes as an example. You could use a mind map to figure out how to improve onboarding or streamline the hiring process.

Product development

Mind mapping can help you generate new ideas for product development. You discuss new product features, upgrades, and other relevant improvements to your current product line.


If you and your team are facing a problem, using a mind map can help you find new ways to solve it. For example, if you have a high customer turnover, you can use a mind map to identify the cause of the problem and devise a solution. Because mind mapping encourages creative thinking, it also helps teams develop solutions they might not have thought of otherwise.

Concept map vs. mind map: What’s the difference?

To properly cover what a mind map is, it’s important to consider what it isn’t. And it’s common to confuse mind maps with concept maps. That said, there are key differences.

A concept map focuses on the relationships between concepts, while a mind map focuses on a single core idea. Teams use concept maps to define how ideas relate to each other and to understand complex subjects.

Let’s use software development as an example of how a concept map helps teams to understand complex topics.

For teams to understand how to improve a piece of software, they need to know how it operates, which is where a concept map helps. It shows all the elements of the software and how they connect in a clear structure. As a result, teams can understand how the system works and identify areas of improvement.

Concept maps also use a hierarchical structure. The core concept sits at the top of the diagram, with related ideas underneath. The concepts are connected with lines or arrows, which are labeled to explain the relationship between them.

Tip: Think you need a concept map instead of a mind map? Save time with our free and customizable Concept Map Template.

Create a mind map with Miro

Mind maps are valuable tools for generating new ideas and adding structure to your thoughts. For teams, they’re a great way to encourage collaboration and help team members think outside the box.

If you’re considering running a mind mapping session, dive into Miro’s Mind Map Template, or use the mind map creator to start from scratch for your next project. With automated diagramming tools at your fingertips, you can effortlessly expand your mind map and connect related ideas in seconds. Plus — with our powerful collaboration tools, your team can easily build a detailed mind map even if you aren’t in the same room.

Learn more about how to make a mind map and get started for free.

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