A Design Thinking Tool
Being creative is hard work. Most people take the easy way out and declare: “I’m just not a creative person!” Well, as it turns out, that is not entirely true. According to the good folks over at the d.School at Stanford University, everyone is creative – you just have to practice it as a skill.
Before working full time with Conclave, I had the awesome experience of working as a lecturer with the School of Design at Stanford University for two years. I was on the d.Life teaching team led by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett. We taught students the elements of design thinking and how they can be applied to various industries and life experiences. One of the courses we taught was called Designing Your Life. In this class, one of the modules I taught was centered around the practice of Mind-Mapping to help spark creative ideas.
How does the Mind-Map work?
The Mind-Map is a quick and easy way to kick your creative skills into gear when you are feeling stuck. Although it is designed to be done individually, you can easily do it within a team environment and share your results.
The steps are simple:
- Write a topic of your choice in the middle of a paper
- Draw a line to the 1st thing that comes to mind
- Repeat 4 -7 times from the center point
- Do the same thing 3 – 7 times from each topic
- Repeat out to 3 – 5 idea layers
You want to use free word association while you are doing this. Write down your first topic, then immediately write down the next thing that comes to your mind, and so on and so forth. The topics in the outer layer do not have to be directly related to the topic in the middle.
For instance, let’s say I wanted to design my next summer vacation. I could use the Mind-Map to come up with some quick wild and creative ideas to help me think outside of the box. Take a look at my mind map below:
Once you have completed mind-mapping all of your ideas, combine 2 or more things from the periphery of your map. Use an unusual combination of things. Take a look at the topics I chose in the outer layer:
After you have chosen 2 or 3 things from the outer layer, combine them to design a brand new idea related to your main topic. In my Mind-Map, I chose the subjects: Pirates, Reggae, and Puerto Rico. Based on these subjects, here is the new vacation idea I created:
“My next vacation will take place in Puerto Rico where we will cruise the island on a pirate-themed ship (costumes and all), while a live reggae band plays on deck.”
Boom. Best vacation ever. Thank you, Mind-Map.
Using the Mind-Map at work
If your job is anything like mine, you understand how stressful coming up with creative ideas under a deadline can be. Here at the Conclave, we continuously have to create and design new concepts, ideas and innovative strategies for our clients. We like to keep our ideas fresh by practicing and utilizing several ideation tools, especially the Mind-Map. For instance, if we have a client who needs a few ideas for a commercial we need to produce, I like to do a few Mind-Maps to help create some new concepts I can share with my team. It is a quick and easy tool that helps us gain some momentum in spitting out a bunch of ideas, and gets the ball rolling on the ideation phase.
Being creative is contagious. Being creative is also about having fun. Next time you feel yourself “stuck” in any ideation phases, pull out the Mind-Map tool and have some fun with it. You never know what kind of cool and innovative ideas you might come up with! Good luck, and “Design on!”
The Mind-Map can also be used in places outside of work. If you’re up for it, try mind-mapping your next birthday party, vacation or family reunion!
-Written by Gabriel Lomeli, Jr.