Spidergrams And Mind Mapping – What’s The Difference?

In my recent post called "Tony Buzan Did Not Invent Mind Mapping" I showed you an example of a "radial diagram" from Evelyn Wood and compared it to the Mind Map.

Well it seems a number of questions have come in about how similar that radial diagram was to Spidergrams or Spider Diagrams so I thought I would just offer my thoughts on them too in relation to Mind Mapping.

Here is an example of a Spidergram (or spider diagram depending on how you like to describe them):

Spidergram or Spider Diagram showing why it is not a Mind Map

Typically a Spidergram has:

  • A central image (like a Mind Map)
  • A hierarchichal struture (as does Mind Mapping)
  • Nodes coming off each hierarchical line (Mind Maps have main branches and sub-branches)
  • Have lots of phrases and sentences (Mind Mapping in its purest form will focus on single keywords)

Are Spidergrams useful?


If you move from the usual structure of hand written notes and start organising your thoughts using spidergrams, then you are going to make a big step forward in improving the quality of your thinking.

The biggest advantage of using this structure is that you have to think about where you are going to position your ideas in relation to the central topic and the other ideas you are considering.

That process alone moves you much further up the thinking food chain.

So why are Spidergrams a bit like Mind Maps?

Well Tony Buzan developed Mind Mapping by modeling the way successful students organised their notes.

On the assumption that a successful student is likely to be good at taking notes, Buzan gathered all of the best practice he could find and combined them into what he later called the Mind Map.

As I mentioned above, the Spidergram approach to organising your ideas makes for better quality thinking AND better quality note taking and it is highly likely that this was one of the features Buzan identified as being crucial to good note taking.

So it is inevitable that a like for like comparison will be made between the structure of a Spidergram and the organising nature of the Mind Map.

However what a Spidergram does not have that Tony Buzan added to the Mind Mapping mix was:

  • Colour
  • The use of images
  • The selection of keywords
  • A consistent structure to the hierarchy of the ideas

It is these factors that differentiate the Mind Map from Spidergrams.

So using either tool will improve the quality of your thinking and your thought organisation but if you want to accelerate beyond the benefits offered by Spidergrams, then Mind Mapping is the next logical step.

If you use either Mind Maps or Spidergrams (Spider Diagrams) to great effect, be sure to let me know in the comments below.



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