The business world is highly competitive, and industry leaders are always looking for a way to edge out in front of the competition. Innovative tools and techniques foster a creative workspace, which could be the advantage a company needs to succeed.

One effective technique that has taken off in the last few years is mind mapping. Mind mapping is a communication tool that improves brainstorming and collaboration sessions. By visualizing concepts and connections in a diagram, people can follow conversations better and contribute more during meetings. It is often seen as an alternative to traditional linear presentations, such as PowerPoint or flip charts.

The term “mind mapping” was first coined by author and television personality Tony Buzan in the 1960s, but the concept of diagramming and arranging information in a visually intuitive way has been in use for hundreds of years. One way of understanding how a mind map works is by comparing it to a city map.

The city center represents the main idea; the main roads leading from the center represent the key thoughts in your thinking process; the secondary roads or branches represent your secondary thoughts, and so on. Special images or shapes can represent landmarks of interest or particularly relevant ideas.

By integrating mind maps into business, leaders can streamline the working process, save time and boost productivity. Because ideas can be added in any order and placed anywhere on the map, employees are not constrained by thinking in order. They throw out any ideas and worry about shaping them later. According to the mind mapping software blog’s survey of over 600 people, nearly half of respondents said the process had an impact on their work performance, which included about a 30 percent increase in productivity levels.

The use of Mind Maps in business has been accelerated by the growing adoption of specific software. While software isn’t necessary for the process, many leaders choose it over traditional pencil and paper. With a computerized mind map, team members can share, easily edit and prioritize or assign branched tasks. Once the map is complete, leaders can track progress of the branched tasks.

Top 5 Mind Mapping Tools

Here are some of the best mind mapping tools online:

  1. MindJet MindManager: MindJet MindManager comes with built-in templates and the ability to sync with the Microsoft Office suite. A free trial of this program is available on its website.
  2. XMind: XMind can sync to mobile iOS devices to block distractions such as alerts or messages. Prices range from $9.99 to $27.99 per user, per month.
  3. MindMeister: MindMesiter is entirely browser-based and stores all content in a central cloud. Prices range from $6 to $15 per month.
  4. MindMup: MindMup is a free tool. It stores content in the cloud and can convert maps easily to PDF, PowerPoint and outlines.
  5. Mindomo: Mindomo is an online collaborative program. Registered users can create and collaborate real-time on mind maps, and it can be used from any standard web browser. Mindomo offers its basic services for free, but some of the program’s best features come with a subscription.

The differences in mapping tools comes down to personal preference and which programs they are compatible with. For example, a business that operates predominately on Macs would most likely not want to choose one of the Microsoft-based products.

Become a Better Business Leader

At Jefferson Online, we know how demanding the modern business world is. That’s why we have developed a flexible online innovation MBA program to give you the best competitive edge with two concentrations so you can focus on what matters to you. The program offers concentrations in business analytics and strategic design thinking. You can complete your degree in as little as 18 – 24 months.

Our Business Analytics concentration is designed to be fully completed within the IMBA degree. The three-course program teaches students practical course topics like data management and analytics modeling.

Our Strategic Design Thinking concentration is one of only a few programs of its kind and trains students in a hybrid approach to management that combines business strategy with innovative methods of problem solving.