Mind Mapping? Idea Mapping? What’s the Difference and Just Who is Jamie Nast?

Until a few years ago, Mind Mapping was the only kid on the block when it came to a truly unique and completely brain friendly thinking process.

It stood out primarily (and probably to its detriment) because it was new and unique and colourful and "fun" – oh how that last word has alienated far too many from this amazing device – anyway I digress.

Unfortunately those who promoted it focussed on the map as the value and not the process and then went down the route of saying we should understand the brain more.

It became more about the map and its relationship to the brain rather than the process and the benefits it could bring.

If I want to run faster, tell me what to do to improve my speed but I really don’t think understanding the physiology of my legs will really make me go quicker – just tell me what to do!

Speak to any hardened and grizzled business professional about "fun" and "colour" and "music" and "individuality" and the chances are you will be shown the door pretty quickly, especially if you insist on hugging them too.

Now before you think I am against all that let me tell you I am not. 

I am of the firm belief that all that stuff works, and works exceptionally well but you don’t lead with it when you are trying to promote a new idea or concept like Mind Mapping.

So all of this worked against Mind Mapping because "wannabes" jumped up all over the place and we had all sorts of "new" systems that were "Mapping" of some sort.

So when on the Mind Mapping grapevine (yes there is a Mind Mapping grapevine) I heard about "Idea Mapping" I simply dismissed it as another way of someone trying to cash in on the whole [thinking synonym] Mapping thing.

That was until that insightful and Mind Mapping  knowledgeable chappy Chuck Frey published an interview with Jamie Nast, originator of Idea Mapping on his Mind Mapping Software Blog.

Chuck knows how to do a good interview and how to pick a good interview subject and most importantly how to ask good questions and this interview with Jamie is no exception.

Now I am not going to repeat what Chuck wrote because you can go and check it out for yourselves but I do want you to realise that Jamie Nast is one of the few other people I have read about that seems to really know what Mind Mapping is about.

I have never met the lady nor have I had any correspondence with her but in putting the feelers out only good stuff is said about her and certainly the interview says volumes about her passion and expertise in the subject (also check out her website).

So, what about  her "Idea Mapping" and how that relates to Mind Mapping then?

Mmmm this is an interesting one because Chuck asks that question and her response is:

"There is still a rich heritage in mind mapping, but we’ve moved away from the laws that govern mind mapping and frustrate users".

She goes on to say


"For example, one of the laws states that a branch should hold only a single key word because a single word can generate more thoughts (sub-branches) than a phrase. Although this is true, it doesn’t transfer into the practical business world. I can’t remember any client ever creating a map around a single word. Instead, the central words/image needs to clearly depict the topic/dilemma/project, etc. This same thing applies to any branch in the map."


Mmmm I am afraid here I have to disagree.

Of all the challenges people face when it comes to applying Mind Mapping, it is the development of the skill of choosing keywords for their branches that causes the most bother.

And the reason most people struggle at first is because they have not developed the discipline and mental clarity to be able to focus their idea/concept/point into a summary that takes the form of a single word.

It is in the choosing of that word and the precision associated with it that allows the context of its meaning to come flooding back.

That coupled with a regular recalled review of the map is how people can process, absorb and recall vast amounts of information.

Because of our schooling we are conditioned to write everything down (a point acknowledged by Jamie).

Also most are worried about getting it wrong by choosing the wrong word so it feels safer to write everything down.

So whilst the guideline to choose a single word may "frustrate users" it is really because they are frustrated by the discipline forced upon them to make a decision that could possibly not be the most perfect choice.

In my experience of both using Mind Mapping for 15 years and teaching it for over 10 to get the most from the tool the keyword selection process is its most powerful.

Now much of this is likely to be fairly academic and probably of little interest to those of you outside the Mind Mapping community so let’s come back to the main issue here.

Check out Jamie Nast if you want to find out an experienced, credible and certainly prolific expert in helping you move your thinking processes up a notch or two.

Idea Mapping, Mind Mapping?

A cynic might say it is just Mind Mapping by another name but who cares because if you ain’t using some form of visual based thinking system then you are behind the curve and what Jamie has to offer will bring you tremendous benefits.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Vic Gee September 1, 2008 at 3:00 am

    Hi Michael,

    I have once tried the single keyword approach. I felt I had to because it seemed such a weird idea but Buzan gave what seemed like a convincing explanation.

    It was on an analysis of something I was working on over a couple of weeks or more in my job as a management consultant.

    The trouble was, when I went back to to the map later, a lot of its value had gone because the single word items were too cryptic and didn’t remind me clearly enough of my thinking at the time. Now you’re going to say that I “have not developed the discipline and mental clarity to be able to focus their idea/concept/point into a summary that takes the form of a single word”, perhaps. I’ve been doing spider diagrams, mind maps and concept maps for more than thirty years, and in all that time when every project I did used mental mapping at some point, I’ve never had this trouble with longer phrases.

    I think it’s hard to generalize. I don’t doubt that there are some who get benefit from single-word mapping – you are obviously one of them – but the only one of Buzan’s rules I take seriously is the one that tells us to develop our own style.

    The master list of mind mapping &
    information management software

  • Michael Tipper September 4, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Hey Vic,

    Great to have your input and thanks for stimulating my thoughts on the single keyword point.

    As you can see my latest post addresses this in more detail.



  • Brian November 10, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I checked out Jamie’s You-Tube TV presentation….
    Gotta tell ya… I’m sure she’s special but I almost fell asleep during the second page/show.
    Keeping interest by “doing” instead of “talking” might have kept me from shutting it off… but we’ll never know… will we?
    You gotta “grab” someone a whole lot quicker or just don’t bother. What am I talking about again… Oh yeh… “Idea” mapping.

  • Ruovi Dzeyie November 18, 2008 at 8:15 am

    what is the other word of mind mapping in one word pls comment