This article originally appeared at Gen-i’

I have used mind mapping for years. It will help you gain clarity on many tasks, from brainstorming ideas and troubleshooting to prioritising tasks and goal setting.

Why use it?

You know those times when you have a muddle of ideas in your head? You have all the pieces but creating order and prioritising tasks is proving difficult? This is where the power of mind mapping comes in.

This tool effectively gets everything ‘out of your head’ and on to paper. Then you can review it, add to it, prioritise it and build a strategy to get stuff DONE!

I use this tool weekly for prioritising my to-do list, content brainstorming and collating research. When I had my business, I also used it for troubleshooting snags in our operations, identifying new opportunities, staff issues, and even budgeting. I wouldn’t be without it!

So how can you use it?

There are many apps out there that allow you to create digital mind maps, however I am a fan of peace and quiet, a big piece of paper (A3), some coloured felt pens, a mug of coffee (or wine depending on the time of day!) and an awesome music playlist.

Here is an example of how you can use mind mapping to create more structure in your business:   – Troubleshooting ‘snags’ in your business operations…

Stage 1: Data Collection

Obtain feedback from staff, look through any recent mistakes or customer complaints. Don’t be embarrassed by what you find; clarity is vital if this process is to be meaningful and productive.

Stage 2: The ‘Brain Dump’

Lock yourself away somewhere and get scribbling. In the centre, write ‘Snags’ then begin ‘brain-dumping’ all the information you have received.
It is an exhaustive process – just keep going until there is nothing else you can write. You will know when you reach this point because you go to write something and realise you have already written it!

Stage 3: Categorising

With another coloured pen, begin grouping the issues you have written – they might come under categories such as staff, customer service, IT, dispatch process, management, customer service.
Once you start, a pattern will appear. Really take the time to do each stage until complete. Grab a brew and sit with it for a while before proceeding onto the next stage.

Stage 4: The Mind Map

On a second piece of paper, begin a second mind map where you group the issues you identified in the brain dump under the headings you identified.

Stage 5: Prioritising

With a red pen, begin circling items that are an immediate priority. Secondly in orange, circle those that can wait a month or so. Finally, in green circle those you identified as improvements rather than major issues, which could be postponed for a few months.

Stage 6: Understanding the issue

The final stage is looking at each ‘Red’ and ‘Orange’ issue in isolation.
Create a mind map for each issue and honestly explore what is causing these issues to happen and what will solve these issues.

These could be simple or more complex but once this process is complete, it will give you the road map to sorting the issue at its root.

Stage 7: Execution

Now you know the issues, priorities and root causes, you have clarity. You know what the issues are, what’s causing them, what you need to do, and can apply realistic timescales required to address each.

Schedule regular mind mapping sessions

I would encourage you to do a ‘snags’ mind map like this at least every six months, but in expanding businesses you might complete this more frequently to quickly identify ‘growing pains’ and rapidly deliver solutions. Remember to involve your staff. Begin including your managers in this process and as they become confident, ask them to complete this exercise themselves.

Mind mapping has multiple benefits

Over time, you will find your managers develop a confidence and a managerial mindset to problem solve issues themselves. Meanwhile, other staff feel involved and constructively give feedback. They quickly see feedback is acted upon and the result benefits them.

Most importantly, issues are clearly identified and improvements executed , improving the business structure.

With mind mapping, you’ll find your business benefits from smoother operations, empowered managers, fewer complaints, happier staff and greater efficiency.


  • Nicola MacPhail

    Change Expert, Author & Facilitator


    A consultant, writer and facilitator. Based in Cumbria I coach clients across the UK and internationally. I write extensively on ‘The HOW Skill Set’ in addition to offering workshops, training and consultancy. Born from a passion to help others ‘Make Change Happen’, I help people make effective implementation plans, be more productive and leverage habits to implement vital changes and thrive in life and work!