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Exploring ideas

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30-45 minutes/ non-specified as working on a mind map can last up to a few days or weeks

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  • Big sheets of paper, minimum size A3, or a whiteboard or flipchart

  • Markers and pens of different colours

  • Sticky notes of different colours, possible also of different shapes and stickers

  • Possibly tape to attach sheets of paper on walls and adhesive putty, and stickers

What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?


A mind map is a visual diagram that can be used for generating ideas for solutions and to explore sub-ideas of the identified problem to solve. Sorting the ideas by themes and sub-themes around the central topic allows you to observe the idea themes and their potential in detail and generate even more ideas. The visual presentation showcases connections between ideas and themes, and allows you to combine them into new ideas.

Steps how to use this tool in practice

The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group.


Take a big sheet of paper, a whiteboard or flipchart and write the identified problem at the centre of it.


Start generating ideas for the identified problem, adding first the main ideas around the centre. Then start adding the sub- ideas to the main ideas. Organise these into idea branches like a tree. You can use different colours and also sticky notes for ideas that you can move around and group together with similar concepts. Besides writing, you can also draw ideas or use images.


Add a few rounds of ideas in the same way to have multiple layers of sub-ideas.


Once ready, look at the mind map and find links or overlaps between the ideas. Connect ideas of similar themes as those can create a new, constructed idea. Use different colours to group or categorise ideas.


Highlight the main ideas and bring them for evaluation and development at the next phase.

Tips and hints for using this tool

  • You can continue working on the mind map for several days, returning to it every time you have something to add.

  • You can also make your customers work on a mind map in your premises.

  • Online mind map applications can also be used for this tool.

Other tools of this phase

An active and exploratory way to generate ideas


An inspiration board for ideating solutions

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A group ideation tool


A fictional description of a typical customer.


Drawing parallels with analogies for ideas.


An ideation matrix of service aspects.

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Creating ideas together with customers and stakeholders.

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A visual map of existing solutions to the identified problem.

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Soliciting the expertise of the crowd.


A visual map of existing solutions to the identified problem.

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