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Graphic Brainstorming: Brain Mapping (Mind Mapping) and Fishbone Diagram

Graphic brainstorming taps different parts of the brain than words alone can tap. It also appeals to participants who are more visually oriented. You'll need to have enough space to create the brain map or fishbone. Most likely, you'll want to rewrite it afterwards.

Brain mapping (also called Mind Mapping)
Brain mapping is a graphic way to identify different parts of an issue or to plan steps or consequences of an action. Take, for example, a situation where you will be purchasing new playground equipment...

The text "New playground equipment" is written in a central circle. Spokes or circles attached to the central circle will represent the variety of elements that must be considered before buying that equipment. Examples of spokes might be:
--- meets all federal and state safety codes
--- is accessible to all students
--- promotes cooperation
Additional details can be added to each spoke or circle. You'll end up with something that looks like a nerve cell.


Key Points To Take Away

--- Use a tool that helps you get to your meeting's outcome.
--- Use a visual method of brainstorming to stimulate new ways of thinking.
--- Use brain mapping to break out the steps of a task or pieces of a concern.
--- Use a fishbone diagram to get at the causes of a problem.
--- Apply brainstorming rules no matter which variation you are using.

Fishbone Diagram
The fishbone diagram is similar to brain mapping, though usually it is focused on identifying possible causes of a problem. First, draw a triangle centered in the middle of the right edge of the paper. (The > edge of the triangle forms the head of the fish). Write the stated problem in the triangle. For example, you might write "Lack of high quality substitute teachers" in the triangle. Then draw a horizontal line from the triangle to the left side of the paper. Draw angled lines off the horizontal line, or "spine," of the fish. On each of these lines write a cause of the problem. For instance, "low pay," "lack of adequate notice," and so on Off each of those labeled lines write more specifics about the cause. The completed diagram will look a bit like the skeleton of a fish.

Remember: When using one of these brainstorming diagrams, brainstorming rules apply. For a refresher course on those rules, see the Great Meeting entry Brainstorming: The Basics.

For more information about graphic brainstorming and mind mapping, order your copy of Great Meetings! Great Results today.

NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: Use "Picture It" to generate ideas.

About Great Meetings

Pam Plumb and Dee Kelsey are your facilitators in charge of Education World's Great Meetings series. They are also authors of the popular guide to meeting facilitation, Great Meetings! Great Results. Together, Pam and Dee have more than 40 years' experience facilitating change and training meeting leaders.

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