Mind mapping -- the technique of arranging ideas and their interconnections visually -- is a popular brainstorming technique. There is a number of resources and tools on this subject into one convenient location. This resources can help you to learn more about how to create mind maps, as well as how to use them in your business, for personal goal-setting and more.

Such tools are the SMARTDRAW and the MIND MANAGER PRO.

I had used both in the past but curently i am mapping my thoughts with the help of the second one.

Mind Manager pro is an excellent tool which can help you turn your brainstorming into action plans, so especially for high-pressured executives i recommend it at no doubt. In addition is a mean for creative thinking as it helps you to get a bigger picture of what you are really thinking off.

The 8 Levels of a Brainstorm Session

Most people think brainstorming sessions are all about ideas -- much in the same way Wall Street bankers think life is all about money.

While ideas are certainly a big part of brainstorming, they are only a part.

People who rush into a brainstorming session starving for new ideas will miss the boat (and the train, car, and unicycle) completely unless they tune into the some other important dynamics that are also at play:

1. INVESTIGATION: If you want your brainstorming sessions to be effective, you'll need to do some investigating before hand. Get curious. Ask questions. Dig deeper. The more you find out what the real issues are, the greater your chances of framing powerful questions to brainstorm and choosing the best techniques to use.

2. IMMERSION: While good ideas can surface at any time, their chances radically increase the more that brainstorm participants are immersed. Translation? No coming and going during a session. No distractions. No interruptions. And don't forget to put a "do not disturb" sign on the door.

3. INTERACTION: Ideas come to people at all times of day and under all kinds of circumstances. But in a brainstorming session, it's the quality of interaction that makes the difference -- how people connect with each other, how they listen, and build on ideas. Your job, as facilitator, is to increase the quality of interaction.

4. INSPIRATION: Creative output is often a function of mindset. Bored, disengaged people rarely originate good ideas. Inspired people do. This is one of your main tasks, as a brainstorm facilitator -- to do everything in your power to keep participants inspired. The more you do, the less techniques you will need.

5. IDEATION: Look around. Everything you see began as an idea in someone's mind. Simply put, ideas are the seeds of innovation -- the first shape a new possibility takes. As a facilitator of the creative process, your job is to foster the conditions that amplify the odds of new ideas being conceived, developed, and articulated.

6. ILLUMINATION: Ideas are great. Ideas are cool. But they are also a dime a dozen unless they lead to an insight or aha. Until then, ideas are only two dimensional. But when the light goes on inside the minds of the people in your session, the ideas are activated and the odds radically increase of them manifesting.

7. INTEGRATION: Well-run brainstorming sessions have a way of intoxicating people. Doors open. Energy soars. Possibilities emerge. But unless participants have a chance to make sense of what they've conceived, the ideas are less likely to manifest. Opening the doors of the imagination is a good thing, but so is closure.

8. IMPLEMENTATION: Perhaps the biggest reason why most brainstorming sessions fail is what happens after -- or, shall I say, what doesn't happen after. Implementation is the name of the game. Before you let people go, clarify next steps, who's doing what (and by when), and what outside support is needed.

Have a look below in a brainstorming technique and how to acommodate this philosophy in your entrepreneurial daily life.

The Lotus Blossom brainstorming technique

The point is that by organizing his thinking around loosely-connected themes, Darwin expanded his thinking by inventing alternative possibilities and explanations that, otherwise, may have been ignored. A creative-thinking technique that will help you expand your thinking in a similar fashion is Lotus Blossom, which was originally developed by Yasuo Matsumura of Clover Management Research in Chiba City, Japan. The technique helps you to diagrammatically mimic Darwin’s thinking strategy by organizing your thinking around significant themes. You start with a central subject and expand into themes and sub-themes, each with separate entry points. In Lotus Blossom, the petals around the core of the blossom are figuratively "peeled back" one at a time, revealing a key component or theme. This approach is pursued in ever-widening circles until the subject or opportunity is comprehensively explored. The cluster of themes and surrounding ideas and applications, which are developed in one way or another, provide several different alternative possibilities. The guidelines for Lotus Blossom are:

1. Write the central problem in the center of the diagram.

2. Write the significant themes, components or dimensions of your subject in the surrounding circles labeled A to H surrounding the central theme. List The optimal number of themes for a manageable diagram is between six and eight. If you have more than eight, make additional diagrams. Ask questions like: What are my specific objectives? What are the constants in my problem? If my subject were a book, what would the chapter headings be? What are the dimensions of my problem?

3. Use the ideas written in the circles as the central themes for the surrounding lotus blossom petals or boxes. Thus, the idea or application you wrote in Circle A would become the central theme for the lower middle box A. It now becomes the basis for generating eight new ideas or applications.

4. Continue the process until the lotus blossom diagram is completed.

An example: How to add value to your organization Suppose, for example, you want to create more value for your organization by increasing productivity or decreasing costs. You would write “Add Value” in the center box. Next, write the eight most significant areas in your organization where you can increase productivity or decrease costs in the circles labeled A to H that surround your central box. Also write the same significant areas in the circles with the corresponding letters spread around the diagram. In my example, I selected the themes “suppliers,” “travel expenses,” “partnerships,” “delivery methods,” “personnel,” “technology,” “facilities,” and “evaluation.”) Also write the same significant areas in the circles with the corresponding letters spread around the diagram. For instance, in the sample diagram the word “technology” in the circle labeled A, serves as the theme for the lower middle group of boxes. Each area now represents a theme that ties together the surrounding boxes.

For each theme, try to think of eight ways to add value. Phrase each theme as a question to yourself. For example, ask, “In what ways might we use technology to increase productivity?” and “In what ways might we use technology to decrease expenses?” Write the ideas and applications in the boxes numbered 1 through 8 surrounding the technology theme. Do this for each theme. Think of eight ideas or ways to make personnel more productive or ways to decrease personnel expenses, eight ideas or ways to create more value for your delivery methods, your facilities and so on. If you complete the entire diagram, you’ll have 64 new ideas or ways to increase productivity or decrease expenses.

When you write your ideas in the diagram, you’ll discover that ideas continually evolve into other ideas and applications, as ideas seem to flow outward with a conceptual momentum all their own.

An important aspect of this technique is that it shifts you from reacting to a “static” snapshot of the problem and will encourage you to examine the significant themes of the problem and the relationships and connections between them. Sometimes when you complete a diagram with ideas and applications for each theme, a property or feature not previously seen will emerge. Generally, higher level properties are regarded as emergent -- a car, for example, is an emergent property of the interconnected parts. If a car were disassembled and all the parts were thrown into a heap, the property disappears. If you placed the parts in piles according to function, you begin to see a pattern and make connections between the piles that may inspire you to imagine the emergent property–the car, which you can then build. Similarly, when you diagram your problem thematically with ideas and applications, it enhances your opportunity to see patterns and make connections. The connections you make between the themes and ideas and applications will sometimes create a emergent new property or feature not previously considered.

I have concluded to remember that when brainstorming, don't give in to limited thinking. Likewise, when i am trying to find good ideas, do not reject the ones that do not meet my requirements. Rather consider how i can modify those ideas so they do meet my requirements. The result will almost certainly be more creative ideas and a more dynamic way of looking at problems.

Brainstorming leads to creative thinking and this is the raw material of change and innovation.

The benefits of brainstorming additional solutions

That the best solution is seldom the first to come to mind is one reason behind the effectiveness of brainstorming as a problem-solving technique. Rather than simply taking the first solution that comes to mind, we push our minds further to come up with additional ideas. Typically, the first few ideas will be rather obvious and not very creative solutions. But once we've cleared our minds of the obvious, we must push our minds further to come up with new ideas. This is when creativity kicks in and powers our thinking.

The other reason why brainstorming can be so effective is that it is not one person's creativity working on the problem, but several people's. Ideally, those people will have different backgrounds and different areas of expertise. With such a variety of thinkers focusing on a problem ­ it would be hard not to come up with creative solutions.

Of course, even with a room full of creative thinkers brainstorming a problem, evaluation of the top solutions may well show that the first idea is in fact the best idea. But at least you will know that you've considered and evaluated all the options before selecting your first idea.

Brainstorming strategy: Don’t settle for the first idea

When looking for solutions to problems, we humans have an unfortunate tendency to embrace the first solution that comes to mind. Worse, if upon analysing the problem further, we discover our solution is not sufficient to solve the problem, we try to modify that first solution rather than consider alternative solutions.

However, the first solution to a problem is seldom the most creative and only occasionally the best solution. The first solution is, on the other hand, usually the most commonplace solution. It is the solution that most people ­ including your competitors ­ would adopt in the same circumstances. Applying the same solution as your competitors is not very competitive.