Mind Map to Capture Complexity

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.

Mind maps (or similar concepts) have been used for centuries in learning, brainstorming, memory, visual thinking, and problem solving by educators, engineers, psychologists, and others. Some of the earliest examples of mind maps were developed by Porphyry of Tyros, a noted thinker of the 3rd century, as he graphically visualized the concept categories of Aristotle.

Here is a hand drawn mind map

hand drawn mindmapIt is very pretty, but nowadays you can use a computer tool to do it for you. You can either buy one or get one free. Personally I have tried several options and have come down squarely on the side of XMind.


XMind is available entirely free and fully functioning. It is upgradable to a Pro version (at $49 a year) that has a presentation and gannt chart view for those who want to do some sophisticated things. XMind 3’s mission statement is to create, as a community, the leading international mind mapping and brainstorming software that will run on all major platforms and raise users’ work efficiency.

The maps you create can be exported to Html/PNG/GIF/JPEG/BMP or a .txt file. You can import from FreeMind (which I used formerly) and MindManager. As well as mind maps, XMind has a brainstorming tool, a fishbone tool, a project management tool, and one for managing meetings.

Each map (or Tool) can be presented with a set of six different styles. You can create an account and upload your work so that others can collaborate. To make the maps lively you can paste in images.

Here is a mind map I produced with XMind to help a community conversation where I live. Never mind the detail, but it will give you an impression.

x-mind mindmap