Where do you start if you want to find out about Mind Mapping and what is created by that process which (I am sure you will not be surprised to hear) is called the Mind Map?
Well doing a search in your favourite search engine on terms like "Mind Mapping" and "Mind Map" will reveal literally millions of options for your to check out.
Now there is a lot of great stuff out there on the internet that will give you probably all you need to know about what Mind Mapping is.
But it could take you days searching for it.
There is also a lot of complete and utter rubbish written about Mind Mapping too and often it is difficult for the beginner to work out what is useful and relevant and what is not.
So a good idea might be to go to the source of the concept and get the information from the horses mouth.
The Mind Map was a term coined (and then trade marked) by British psychologist Tony Buzan.
Now it was originally revealed to the world in his ground breaking book "Use Your Head" in 1974 (In the US this was called "Use Both Sides of Your Brain) and this is the book that first turned me on to Mind Mapping.
Now that book covered a variety of topics and information about the Mind Map was just one part.
So a few years later Tony Buzan wrote what was at that time the definitive guide to Mind Mapping that was simply called "The Mind Map Book".
There have been a number of editions and reprints over the years but as far as I am aware, apart from maybe some additional Mind Mapping Examples, the content has stayed pretty much the same.
So what I would like to do is to share my thoughts on this book and review it for you.
You will see throughout this post different covers for the same book.
With the different reprints and different markets around the world, there have been quite a few different covers and so rather than choose one and risk excluding some readers, I thought I would gather all the ones I could find and place them in chronological order (to the best of my knowledge) throughout the post.
So the Mind Map book is of course about Mind Mapping.
Probably the first thing that jumps out when you look at any of the covers is that the Mind Map book is not written by just Tony Buzan but it was done so with Barry Buzan?
Now that is interesting and I wonder why Tony would include his brother Barry who is a very well respected academic (he is a professor of International Studies).
Barry is a fervent user of his brother’s invention but I really doubt whether he had much to do with its development (though I don’t know that for sure – I have met Barry briefly but it never came up in conversation – he was eating soup at the time and wasn’t impressed I had interrupted him!).
I suspect that Barry’s addition to the credits was an attempt to add some academic credibility and gravitas to a concept that unfortunately (well certainly at that time anyway) has a bit of a "pop psychology" tag.
In fact only yesterday I came across a reference to Tony Buzan being a "Pop Psychologist" made on a web site of a very well respected newspaper in the UK – I am sure Tony will not be over the moon about that.
Regardless of the motive of including his brother, here we have a book written by two very well respected leaders in their own individual fields.
To give you an idea of what the book is about it is probably useful to let you know how it is structured.
It has the following five divisions:
- Division 1 – Natural Architecture
- Division 2 – Foundations
- Division 3 - Structure
- Division 4 – Synthesis
- Division 5 – Uses
In the first division Buzan sets the stage for the relevance of the Mind Map and explains how the brain is structured, and how we think.
He also takes a look at how some of the great minds expressed their thoughts (in particular Da Vinci) and starts to draw parallels to what is later introduced as Mind Mapping.
Apparantly our brains are in a quandry and this is explained by looking at how you and I were taught to organise our thoughts when we were a school.
It is this quandry that is probably the greatest barrier to the proliferation of Mind Mapping as a thinking tool because we consider those skills given to us in our childhood as being "normal" and so anything different to that threatens something that is very much a part of our identity.
Unfortunately as Buzan states, what we consider "normal" is not really natural and in fact holds us back from our natural and much greater thinking abilities.
He ends this first division by explaining the concept of "Radiant Thinking" and laying the groundwork for MInd Mapping.
In the second division, Buzan lays the foundations of MInd Mapping by evolving our understanding of the concept through looking at brainstorming, how our mind organises association, the power of keywords and the impact of images on our note taking and thinking abilities.
In the Structure division which is the third of the five divisions, we are introduced to the guiding principles of Mind Mapping.
Note the use of the term "Guiding Principles".
Over many years of research, study, application and trial and error, Tony Buzan has evolved Mind Mapping to the extent that used in the right way, it is an extremely powerful thinking tool.
Rather than create a set of "rules" he has identified his guiding principles and it is in this section you will discover points such as why using colour is important, why you should only use one word per line and the importance of using images wherever possible.
In my opinion your thinking abilities are significantly enhanced if you start capturing your ideas in a visual form on paper whether you use concept maps, bubble diagrams, fishbone diagrams or any of the other visual note taking strategies.
However what is important about the way Buzan has developed Mind Mapping is that each of the recommendations he makes in his "guiding principles" refines the technique just that little bit more.
So the more of them you apply the more refined the technique and the better it will work for you.
In the Synthesis divsion we are introduced to the different ways we can organise our own ideas and the ideas of others.
In it there are some very useful sections on Mind Mapping and memory and using it as a creative thinking tool.
And finally in the Uses division Buzan shares with us the many different ways that Mind Mapping can be applied in our professional and personal lives.
So overall this is a very comprehensive and thorough text on the topic of Mind Mapping written by its creator.
Here is what I like about the Mind Map Book
There are many things to like about this book but my favourites are:
- It is very well written and appropriately structured
- It is extremely comprehensive on the topic
- There are numerous mind mapping examples in colour from different contributors
- It makes a great case as to why mind mapping is such a powerful alternative to what we consider as "normal"
- Every division and every chapter begins with an overview preview statement and ends with an "onward" statement to prepare the foundations for the next division/chapter
Here is what I don’t like about the Mind Map Book
Whilst I do think that anyone seriously interested in Mind Mapping should have this book on their shelf there are a few things that I personally do not like about the book.
My biggest criticism is that typical of the Buzan approach this book has the tone that Mind Mapping is the only answer to the world’s thinking problems and does nothing to acknowledge that it is part of a bigger picture.
Whilst it is understandable not to refer too much (if at all) to the alternatives this book gives the impression that Mind Mapping should be used for EVERYTHING because it is really the only way.
I can understand this approach as I used to buy into it myself and indeed have promoted that as an idea.
I do think using Tony Buzan’s Mind Map process will significantly enhance your thinking performance, however I am now more aware that for some applications there are better tools and I think this book is let down by not acknolwedging that.
Now that is a personal opinion from someone who has been in this field for over 10 years as a speaker on the topic and 15 years as a user and so might not really be that useful for the casual first time browser of the Mind Map book.
However now that I have got my personal gripes out of the way, the second biggest criticism relevant to you the reader is the irony that such a meaty tome on the topic of Mind Mapping fails miserably to actually teach you how to Mind Map.
It tells you what the Mind Map is, it tells you why it is so powerful, it gives you the "guiding principles" of what you should be doing when you mind map, it explores the uses of mind mapping but as an instruction guide on how to get started, it has very little useful or practical guidance.
As a reference book for someone who teaches it or is a real hard core user and advocate, it is a perfect volume to have on your shelf, but if you want to learn how to begin mind mapping, then in my opinion The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan is not the best place to start.
Should that stop you from buying this book if you are looking to discover how you can get started with Mind Mapping?
No because it really is a good book about Mind Mapping and I do recommend this as something to read on the topic but if you do buy it to learn about how to mind map, just realise you may need to invest in a more practical "How To" guide as well.
Do let me know what you think of this review and if it has been helpful to you then let me know in the comments below.
PS – By the way if all you are looking for is a basic "How To" guide as an introduction on what you need to do to get started then download the free "How To Get Started With Mind Mapping" guide which is a great place to start.