A mind map is considered the most effective way to brainstorm and organise one’s thoughts. It is a tool that can be used to almost any kind of activity that requires deep thinking. From executing a business project to listing todos for personal work, a mind map needs to extended its original scope of brainstorming to organized and scheduled activity.

A mind map is used primarily to record one’s thoughts on a subject any which way they occur. These ideas are then considered further and refined and then rearranged in a manner that provides the perspective one wishes to bring to the subject under study. However, when it comes to executing the thoughts and ideas in the real world, the mind map is severely cramped. To execute something we need to organize the ideas, order them in meaningful ways, and sequence them as achievable targets progressing towards a goal.

In a mind map there is no sequence to the nodes created. There can be no ordering of the nodes. The nodes can explode without limit and without direction. But without some means to order them, it would be very difficult to track them. Unlike a workflow, a mind map does not provide a road map for my work; instead, it stops after uncovering and perhaps refining the clutter in my brain. A mind map stops short of being a workflow.

A workflow could be added to the mind map which then can provide an order, a sequence, to the nodes which then become live. The workflow can provide an ordered set of nodes that can be visited in a sequence. It can also be used to track the progress of a project. The nodes can send alerts based on the timelines set for them.

Initially, to begin with, a mind map may be used as a brainstorming tool. When we have captured all the ideas relating to a project, we can then order them in a sequence. This ordering prioritize the ideas, which now actually become actionable items.

In a typical workflow there could be sequential and parallel flows and it grows in linear time. At each node it should be possible to capture notes, set deadlines, wait for other parallel activities to complete and help take decisions either to extend, alter or abort the flow depending on the outcomes. All these could be included in a mind map.

There is currently a profusion of mind map apps on the app stores, but unfortunately none of them take this approach. It would be more useful if the mind map of ideas could be transformed into a flow of actionable items. It would then become a truly productive app.