Mind Mapping

An existing trend in business analysis is the use of the mind map technique which has various areas of application: planning, taking notes, organising ideas, creative problem solving, collaborating, summarising, among other uses. Throughout the analysis phase, the role of business analysts is to primarily investigate, evaluate and scrutinise information obtained from stakeholders as well as any relevant documentation. This process can be simplified by applying mind maps to structure the information obtained through a carefully thought-out representation of ideas, concepts, thoughts, and problems.

The fast-paced business environment of today requires that BAs save time, enhance effectiveness, and become more creative in their thinking. Mind maps are useful in organising thoughts in an easy and efficient way. An example of its use is in preparing and delivering presentations. It is important to note that the mind map is not a deliverable of the business analyst but is instead, used in the process of understanding the business in order to provide comprehensive recommendations.

Mind maps use images, colours, relationships and text to connect thoughts and ideas in a non-linear form. Keywords may be used on connections to explain the relationship between parts. It can be drawn manually on paper or using online software like Lucid chart, bubbl.us, etc to summarise complex thoughts and ideas.

Creating a mind map requires carrying out the following steps:  

Establish the dominant idea and include it in the mind map

Depending on the requirements of the project, the BA should first identify the dominant idea for further exploration and investigation.

Classify the main areas that influence the problem

After establishing the dominant idea in the mind map, the business analyst should include additional ideas behind the dominant idea. At this stage, the BA may for instance, employ different categories of problem description. These categories aid in structuring ideas.

The diagram below depicts a mind map:

Central image represents the Main idea; Branches represent the main themes; Branch lines contain keywords that explain association; & Twigs represent sub-topics  Source: Mindmapping

Central image represents the Main idea; Branches represent the main themes; Branch lines contain keywords that explain association; & Twigs represent sub-topics 

Source: Mindmapping

Discuss the main areas suggested above

This stage requires that the main ideas presented are carefully thought-out to offer the best possible ideas aimed at solving existing problems/exploiting opportunities by organizing ideas and identifying the root cause of existing problems.

Though the mind map technique is useful in organizing ideas, it has been criticized for being misused as a brainstorming tool (creating relationships between ideas may impede idea generation) and often requiring the illustrator to interpret what has been drawn since a shared understanding of the mind map can be difficult to communicate.