Generating ideas: mental or heuristic maps

Created by : Les 7 Sens
Last update : August 15, 2018


This approach, used by Leonardo da Vinci and popularized by Tony Buzan, makes it possible to group together all the representations of a group on a subject. It is a systemic alternative to brainstorming to generate ideas.

It is applicable to all stages of a research process and it can offer multiple benefits.

Benefits :

1. Clarifies the variables of a problem

2. Gives coherence to different representations through a systemic vision

3. Opens a broad view on a subject and areas of exploration of a complex problem

A few tips: 

- Set a very fast pace.

- Always mirror the words expressed in key words and not in sentences (repeat the words as they are).

- Make sure that the first words are expressed by everyone and thus have 12 words maximum, forming a first layer around a central concept to explore.

- Be brief, use keywords, and stay away from abstract concepts.

- Remember to make short links with your highlighter pen between the words.



Prepare: criteria, clarity and methodology

- Define 3 criterions according to your context and your objectives.

- Take 3 different colored markers.

- Note in the center of a sheet the central concept to explore in the form of a keyword or summary in 2 to 3 words maximum and surround it with a bubble. 

Write this very short phase using color 1.


Animate in fast and precise dynamics

Invite the group to "say everything that this word means to them" and quickly repeat their propositions by connecting them with a short felt line with the central bubble, without circling the words and always using color 1 (10 to 12 words forming a 1st layer).

Les 7 Sens

Réseau de professionnels pour favoriser les compétences en créativité et l'éthique de l'humain.
See his method