Brainstorming Vs Mind Mapping: ELI5 The Difference

Unlock the full potential of your ideas with the power of brainstorming and mind mapping. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or an entrepreneur, these two popular techniques can help you unleash your creativity and come up with new and innovative solutions. But what exactly are brainstorming and mind mapping, and how do they differ?

While both techniques have their own unique advantages, they can also complement each other. Brainstorming can be used to generate a large number of ideas, while mind mapping can help you organize and structure those ideas. By understanding the differences and similarities between these two techniques, you can learn how to effectively use them to take your creativity to the next level. So, join me in this post as we dive deeper into the world of brainstorming and mind mapping and explore how you can use them to unlock your full potential and achieve your goals.

Brainstorming vs Mind mapping: Comprehending the difference through definitions

Brainstorming and Mind Mapping are both creative techniques used to generate and organize ideas. However, they have distinct differences in their approach, process, and outcome.

Brainstorming is a group activity that involves the rapid generation of ideas and solutions. It is an open-ended technique that encourages the free flow of thoughts and ideas, with the goal of coming up with as many ideas as possible. It is often used to solve problems, generate new ideas, or develop plans.

Mind Mapping, on the other hand, is a more visual and individual activity that involves creating a diagram or map of your thoughts, ideas, and concepts. It is a way of organizing information and making connections between different ideas. Mind Maps are often used for note-taking, studying, planning, problem-solving, and decision-making.

In summary, brainstorming is a technique for generating a large number of ideas, while mind mapping is a technique for organizing and structuring those ideas. Both techniques can be used together to achieve maximum results.

In which situations can mind mapping and brainstorming be used?

Mind mapping can be used in various situations, such as:

Mind mapping
  1. Note-taking: Mind mapping can be an effective way to take notes during lectures, meetings, or while reading a book. It allows you to capture and organize information in a visual and structured manner, making it easier to review and recall later. At the same time, one can use various tools for note-taking to get the added advantage of sorting information and organizing ideas.
  2. Decision-making: By creating a mind map, you can visually map out all the options and weigh the pros and cons of each choice. This can help you make informed decisions and ensure that all relevant factors have been considered.
  3. Study and learning: Mind mapping can be an effective tool for learning and retaining new information. By creating a visual representation of concepts and relationships, you can better understand and remember the information.
  4. Idea generation: Mind mapping is a great way to generate and organize creative ideas for a project or problem. You can brainstorm and map out all the ideas, then organize them into a structure that makes sense and helps you see the bigger picture.
  5. Presentations: Mind maps can be used to present information in a clear and concise manner. They allow you to visually organize information and make it more appealing to the audience, making it easier to convey your message.

Brainstorming can be used in many different situations, such as:

  1. Problem-solving: Brainstorming is a common approach to generating ideas and solutions for a particular problem or challenge. By bringing together a group of people with different perspectives and expertise, you can generate a wide range of potential solutions and identify the best approach to solving the problem.
  2. Creative projects: Brainstorming is often used to generate new and innovative ideas for creative projects, such as designing a new product, developing a marketing campaign, or creating a new work of art. By encouraging free-form thinking and a lack of judgment, brainstorming sessions can foster a creative and collaborative atmosphere that promotes idea generation. This crucial skill can also be fostered with the help of online games.
  3. Team building: With the many quotes highlighting the importance of team building, do you know that Brainstorming can also be a powerful tool for team building?  By bringing together team members from different departments or levels of the organization, brainstorming sessions can encourage collaboration and creative thinking while also promoting teamwork and building strong relationships among team members.
  4. Decision-making: Brainstorming can also be used to gather and evaluate a range of options and make informed decisions. By encouraging open and free-form discussion, brainstorming sessions can help decision-makers consider a wide range of options and arrive at a well-informed and effective decision.
  5. Planning and strategy: Brainstorming is a key tool for developing and planning new initiatives, projects, or strategies. By bringing together a group of stakeholders and experts, brainstorming sessions can help organizations identify new opportunities and generate creative approaches to achieving their goals.

Steps to perform brainstorming and mind mapping

Though both activities sound the same in general terms, that is, generating ideas, they do follow different steps while carrying out the same. Let’s check the steps involved in both processes below. 

Summarized below are the steps for conducting a brainstorming session:

  1. Define the problem or challenge: Clearly state the problem or challenge that the brainstorming session is intended to address.
  2. Assemble the right people: Identify the right individuals to participate in the brainstorming session based on their expertise and experience.
  3. Set a positive and creative atmosphere: Encourage open and free-form thinking by setting a positive and creative atmosphere.
  4. Explain the rules: Clearly explain the rules of the brainstorming session, such as no criticism or judgment of ideas, and encourage participants to build on each other’s ideas.
  5. Start generating ideas: Encourage participants to generate as many ideas as possible, no matter how unconventional or unrealistic they may seem.
  6. Capture ideas: Write down or capture all the ideas generated during the brainstorming session, even if they seem far-fetched or unconventional.
  7. Evaluate and refine ideas: After the brainstorming session, evaluate and refine the ideas generated. Identify the most promising and feasible options and develop a plan for moving forward.

Steps for conducting a mind mapping exercise is as follows:

  1. Define the topic: Clearly state the topic or problem that the mind map is intended to address.
  2. Start with a central idea: Start by writing down the central idea or theme of the mind map in the center of a blank page.
  3. Generate related ideas: Generate related ideas and branches that stem from the central idea, connecting each idea to the central theme.
  4. Add details and keywords: Add details, keywords, and notes to each branch, expanding on each idea and providing additional context.
  5. Use visual aids: Use visual aids such as colors, images, and symbols to help convey meaning and enhance the visual appeal of the mind map.
  6. Refine and update: As new ideas and insights emerge, refine and update the mind map accordingly.

These are the basic steps for conducting a brainstorming session and a mind-mapping exercise. While the methods are different, both approaches can be useful for generating and evaluating ideas, and each has its own strengths and limitations. It is important to choose the approach that is best suited to the particular problem or challenge you are facing and to consider factors such as the number and type of participants, the amount of time available, and the nature of the problem or challenge itself.

Which of the two is more organized?

Both brainstorming and mind mapping can be organized and structured, depending on how the session or exercise is conducted.

Mind mapping is often considered to be more structured and organized than brainstorming, as it involves creating a visual representation of ideas that is easy to follow and understand. The branches and connections between ideas help to create a clear and organized picture of the thought process, and the use of visual aids such as colors and images can help to convey meaning and enhance the visual appeal of the map.

However, a well-facilitated brainstorming session can also be highly organized and structured, particularly if the facilitator follows a clear and well-defined process, and if participants are encouraged to build on each other’s ideas and connect their thoughts in a logical and meaningful way.

In conclusion, both brainstorming and mind mapping can be organized, but mind mapping is often considered to be more structured due to its visual representation of ideas and connections between them. The approach that is more organized will depend on the quality of the facilitation and the structure of the session or exercise itself. Parents and teachers can also use some mind-mapping activities to make sure the kid makes the most of the method. 

What skills are utilized in each?

Both brainstorming and mind mapping require the use of different skills and abilities. While some of the crucial skills are vital for both the processes like thinking out of the box, critical thinking, analytical thinking, etc,  there is a difference in some of the skill sets required in effectively carrying out the same. Here are some of the skills utilized in each:



  • Creative thinking: Participants need to be able to think creatively and generate a large number of ideas in a short amount of time. Many creative thinking examples can be enough to illustrate how brainstorming can help with the same.
  • Collaboration: Participants need to be able to work well in a group setting, and build on each other’s ideas, and contribute to the overall discussion.
  • Active listening: Participants need to be able to listen actively to each other and build on each other’s ideas.
  • Verbal communication: Participants need to be able to communicate their ideas effectively and clearly, both in spoken and written form.
  • Facilitation: The facilitator needs to be able to guide the discussion, encourage participation, and keep the group focused on the task at hand.

Mind mapping:

Mind mapping
  • Visual thinking: Participants need to be able to think visually and create a visual representation of ideas that is easy to follow and understand.
  • Organization: Participants need to be able to organize their thoughts and ideas in a clear and logical manner, and to create a structure that is easy to follow.
  • Attention to detail: Participants need to be able to add details, keywords, and notes to each idea, and to ensure that all relevant information is captured.
  • Memory retention: Participants need to be able to remember and recall information and ideas, and to be able to add new information as it becomes available.
  • Creativity: Participants need to be able to think creatively and generate ideas that are original and innovative.

In conclusion, both brainstorming and mind mapping require different skills, and the approach that utilizes more of your skills will depend on your individual strengths and abilities. 

 Plus points on which both processes overlap

Since the idea behind both the processes is more or less the same, that is, generating and thinking of more and more ideas, both brainstorming and mind mapping overlap on their plus points. Discussed below are the benefits of both brainstorming and mind mapping. 

  1.  Increases creativity: Both techniques encourage people to think creatively and come up with new and innovative ideas. Encouraging free-flowing thoughts, allow participants to share their unique perspectives and build on each other’s ideas. This can lead to the generation of ideas that would not have been thought of individually.
  2. Enhances team building: Brainstorming and mind mapping allow team members to work together, share ideas, and build on each other’s thoughts. It helps to foster a sense of camaraderie and collaboration among the team members, which can lead to a more cohesive and productive team.
  3. Increases participation and engagement: Both activities create an inclusive environment where everyone’s ideas are valued and encouraged. It helps to break down communication barriers and ensures that everyone is heard. This can lead to increased participation and engagement, as well as a sense of ownership among the team members. This can be particularly useful in group projects or team meetings.
  4. Encourages diversity: Brainstorming and mind mapping bring together people with different backgrounds, skills, and experiences, which can result in a more diverse set of ideas and solutions. This can be especially beneficial for organizations that operate in diverse environments and want to cater to diverse customer needs. Encouraging diversity in such sessions can lead to a more inclusive and equitable outcome.

Fine line difference between the two techniques

Both processes work for the purpose of problem-solving but the approaches they follow are a little different. Discussed below are some points which highlight a fine line difference between the two on how they follow a divergent path.

  1. Productivity: While both approaches work on the generation of many ideas and solutions, increase the number of options available, and ultimately lead to better and more efficient decision-making. By having more options to choose from, the team can make more informed decisions, which can lead to greater productivity in the long run.

Mind mapping can help to increase productivity by allowing individuals to prioritize tasks and organize their time more effectively. By visually organizing information and tasks, mind mapping can help to identify the most important tasks and allocate time and resources more efficiently. This can lead to greater productivity in the long run.

  1. Problem-solving: Brainstorming can be used to generate solutions for a wide range of problems, from simple to complex. It helps to bring different perspectives together and find new ways of looking at a problem. By generating a large number of ideas, brainstorming increases the chances of finding a suitable solution.

Besides generating more ideas, mind mapping allows individuals to see the relationships between different ideas and concepts, which can help to make more informed decisions. By visually representing information, mind mapping can help to identify potential problems, opportunities, and solutions more quickly.

  1. Organization and structure: Mind mapping is a visual tool that involves creating a diagram or map of interconnected ideas. It allows for the organization and grouping of information in a hierarchical structure and can be especially useful for creating a clear and organized overview of a complex topic. 

Brainstorming, on the other hand, is a more open-ended and unstructured method of generating ideas. It involves a group of people sharing and building upon ideas in a free-flowing manner. Brainstorming can be especially effective for generating a large number of ideas quickly and can be a useful tool for encouraging creativity and thinking outside of the box.

  1. Enhances learning and memory: Mind mapping can help to improve memory retention by creating associations and connections between different pieces of information. By visually linking related concepts together, mind mapping can help to make information more memorable and easier to recall. This can be especially useful when studying or learning new material.

However, brainstorming plays no role in enhancing memory but it does help individuals practice skills required for learning such as critical thinking and creative thinking.


In conclusion, Both mind mapping and Brainstorming are effective ways of generating ideas and organizing information; the best method will depend on the context and the specific goal of the task. Mind mapping is more structured and can be useful for organizing information, especially for individuals with learning disabilities like dyscalculia.

On the other hand, brainstorming is more free-form and can be useful for generating a large number of ideas quickly. It is also possible to use both methods in combination to generate a large number of ideas and then organize them in a logical and structured way. Furthermore, a few mind-mapping and brainstorming games and activities can also help individuals in many big and small ways. 

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