Common mind maps

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A Buzan-style mind map

Since Tony Buzan made Mind Maps popular, the term has come into increasingly common use. Now, information maps that have been variously referred to as business maps, visual maps, idea maps, information maps, spidergrams, spider diagrams and bubble diagrams are commonly referred to as “mind maps”. They often have phrases for nodes, sometimes quite long ones, may make little use of color and have few images and not very ‘organic’ connecting lines, so they don’t fit Tony Buzan’s original conception of mind maps.

A mind map according to common usage (≈spidergram)
Finance and Business Support review

Where there is a need in WikIT to make a clear distinction between mind maps that follow Buzan’s guidelines and diagrams that are commonly called mind maps, the terms Buzan mind maps and Common mind maps are used.

Common mind maps or Buzan mind maps?[edit]

If you are faced with this choice and haven’t formed your own preferences yet, a comparison of the benefits of common mind maps and Buzan mind maps follows. If you’re looking for a more detailed article about the Buzan guidelines, Buzan’s mind map guidelines in practical use may be what you want.

The map ‘Finance and Business Support review’ (below right) could benefit from the application of some (but definitely not all) of Buzan’s guidelines. For example, although it uses color, including simple images or icons would make it easier for the consultant to find a subject area quickly. Taking the guidelines one by one, we can weigh advantages and disadvantages for different applications of mind maps.

Buzan mind maps Common mind maps Observations
Buzan mind maps are centered and radiant Most common mind maps follow this guideline as well Some mind mapping software offers alternative formats, like tree diagrams and Fishbone diagrams and these are occasionally used.
Buzan mind maps should use a picture as the central idea Business users of mind maps use them less often and when they do, nearly always have words as well
Buzan encourages the use of colors The majority of common mind maps also follow this Don’t let it slow you down if you are working with a flood of ideas on a flipchart
Buzan maps have the characteristic curved organic lines, thicker at the center As many mind mapping software packages are capable of doing this, common mind maps often use it as well, but not invariably As with the use of colors, don’t let filling in thick lines slow down your thinking.
Buzan insists that mind mappers use one keyword per line This is a guideline that is more often ignored in common mind maps than any other
Buzan encourages use of colors The majority of common mind maps also follow this Don’t let it slow you down if you are working with a flood of ideas on a flipchart
Buzan mind maps often use images throughout This is less often found in common mind maps, but small icons are used If you are sharing a mind map with colleagues, look critically at any pictures and ask yourself if they could be interpreted as giving a childish appearance. Simple icons can help new readers find their way around rapidly. For common mind maps that only you will see, pictures can aid navigation around the map.
Buzan says that you should develop your own personal style of mind maps And makers of common mind maps do so It’s hard to avoid this one!
Buzan maps use emphasis and show associations The majority of common mind maps also follow this If you are making too many off-hierarchy associations, consider whether you should be building a concept map
Buzan maps use “radiant” hierarchy, and outlines to embrace branches The majority of common mind maps have radiant hierarchy and some use branch outlines

The table above illustrates the theme on which WikIT was built:

The information map type you make and the guidelines you follow should be influenced by the reasons for building the map and the use you’ll make of it, not by what someone tells you that you should do.

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