Creative Research: Connecting the Dots using Mind Maps


Research is a big part of life. Even if it isn’t a part of your job, you will still have times in life where collecting information on a topic can give you an advantage in making decisions or preparing for your next move.

In my own life, I research new tools, work concepts, topics for blog posts, building a house, organizing finances, even getting a new dog.

But the type of research we’re used to doing, the type we learned in school, isn’t very useful to me. I realized a long time ago, that I think better in images. And what is a better way to organize information in the form of an image than mind mapping?

I’ve been using mind mapping for a long time. It started out with a paper and pen. Paper and pen mind maps were pretty limited. I could get the basic idea of a topic down on paper and get the general overview of the topic I was working on, but if I came across any new information that didn’t already have a space on the page, rearranging or reorganizing was nearly impossible. Also, you can’t incorporate links and videos into a paper mind map. Talk about limiting!

As technology advanced, so did my mind maps. Early mind mapping software was definitely an improvement over paper and pen. I was really excited to give these a try since I had found the medium to be so valuable to me. I’ve tested many mind mapping tools over the years.

Testing all these mind mapping tools brought me two important perspectives.

  1. I began to form a vision of a new way of mind mapping that would go beyond a basic mind map to combine the best of deep research with mind mapping capabilities.
  2. I started to form a list of the “must-have” features in a mind mapping software that could meet my exacting needs.

This led me to devise the special method of research I use today: Creative Research. But more about that later.

To understand, and truly appreciate, the potential of how my current method of research works, we need to learn a little bit more about mind maps, and why they work the way they do.

A mind map is a diagram that uses visuals to represent a topic in the center, with all of the related sub-topics coming off of that center topic. Mind maps can be arranged in different ways to use shapes, colors, and images to give a quick visual overview of the topic and related subtopics.

You may have used a mind map in the past. You were probably required to create one during your time in school as a project or assignment. As fun as it may have been to create a visually stimulating mind map to earn a grade, it’s possible you didn’t see any practical use for mind mapping in your everyday life.

There are a few possible reasons why you didn’t adopt mind mapping as a regular way of gathering information, for instance:

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