A favorite of creative thinkers everywhere, mindmapping gives your brain permission to make free associations leading from one idea to the next.


You know that "stuck" feeling? Admit it: you do. We all do.

You might feel stuck because you need to come up with ideas, and so far, you've got nothing. Or you might feel stuck because you have a thousand ideas twisting around each other like a bowl full of brain-spaghetti.

Mind mapping is a technique that helps with both flavors of "stuck". Start with a question about your problem or topic, and let your mind wander. Ask more questions like "So what?" and "What if?". And because you're writing them on a blank canvas, you're free to group related ideas or draw visual connections.

So dust of your doodling skills, get those arrows and squiggly lines ready. On your marks... get set... map!


Mindmapping is a play you can run on your own, in pairs, or with a group. Bring in the roles and people you think will be most helpful, but keep the group fairly small – six or fewer.

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Mindmapping is a structured form of brainstorming.

1 - 6


30 min



Running the play

You can do mindmaping on your own, in pairs, or as a group.

  • Whiteboard
  • Markers

Start with a question that is central to your topic or problem.

Make sure the question is somewhat specific – e.g., "How can we make creating Jira issues simpler?" is better than "How can we improve Jira issues?" Careful not to choose a question that boxes your brain into a corner – e.g., "How can we introduce 1-click create for JIRA issues?"


Turn your brain on (5 min)

Write your question in the middle of the whiteboard.

Now write down any thoughts that spring to mind in relation to this question (even if the thought isn't an answer, per se). Each thought should be a separate bubble hovering around the question in the middle.

Resist the urge to self-edit or over-think it at this stage. Just let it flow.

Pro tip

If you're working alone, good ol' paper and pencil work just as well as a whiteboard.


Branch out (10 min)

Once you've got an initial set of ideas, use each one to create a branch of more ideas. Make sure to connect them using circles, lines, arrows, etc. so it's easy to see how they map to each other.


Here's a mind map your friendly neighborhood Team Playbook team did recently. 


Grab the gold coins (5 min)

Go back over your mind map and highlight the ideas that resonate strongest with you. Is there anything missing? Or are there ideas worth exploring further?

With any luck, you'll have hit upon one or two ideas that get you un-stuck and solve your problem. If so, great. Move onto planning your next steps. If not, snap a photo of your mind map and share it with your team as a way of bringing them into the conversation.


Nailed it?

Be sure to run a full Health Monitor session or checkpoint with your team to see if you're improving.

Find your Health Monitor


You can use the same bubbles-and-lines technique to record a group discussion or to capture the peer feedback from a Sparring session.


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