Tony Buzan’s mind mapping method

Buzan’s book “Mind Map for Kids: Benkyo ga Tanoshiku naru Noto Jutsu (Note-Taking Skills that Make Studying Fun),” which is the Japanese translation of a book he wrote three years ago for and with the input of children.

In case you don’t already know, Tony Buzan is known as the “memory man” and he teaches the memory-problem-solving-info organization-and-creativity technique called “mindmapping”. Buzan is the inventor of a note-taking technique called “mind map” that he says will allow people to let their creative juices flow. Through the device of the “mind map” we can learn to think and work smarter, more creatively and efficiently. According to Tony Buzan, we will be better able to carry out our tasks and solve problems if we remove the many limitations to our learning. One way to do this is to address the way we organize our thoughts on paper.

Instead of jotting things down in linear (top to bottom or left to right) fashion, as most of us do, Buzan says we should take notes radially, starting with an image in the center that best illustrates the topic you are pondering.

After drawing the central theme, we are to sketch several branches, and assign a key word to each, in various different directions, which should further branch out to new words and images, and branch out further and further.

We should also color-code each different category of info illustrating them with pictures, because this more closely matches the multilayered way that human brains actually work. And by limiting each branch to one word, more associations between words and concepts become evident.

Buzan’s techniques have been adopted at major corporations around the world, including Microsoft, General Motors, Walt Disney, IBM and British Airways that pay to send their staff to his seminars.

Buzan’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages and sold in more than 100 countries. Buzan is reported in a BBC documentary as having transformed “problem students” at a school outside London into creative geniuses.

Read what other experts have to say on Buzan’s technique below:

“Kikunori Shinohara, an expert in physiological anthropology and professor at Tokyo University of Science, Suwa, in Nagano Prefecture, who is not affiliated with Buzan’s business, said that, like other note-taking techniques, mind maps can help boost memory.

“When we think, a brain function called ‘working memory’ is activated,” he explained. “There are two kinds of working memory: ‘visual sketch pad,’ which is about visual memory; and ‘phonological loop,’ which governs audio memory. If you use images and charts, you would use the visual sketch pad, and it’s more efficient than just using the phonological loop. Mind maps apparently use both, so that makes people more memory efficient.”

Another independent expert, Makoto Takahashi, who is chairman of the 300-member Japan Creativity Society and professor at the Japan Professional School of Education in Tokyo, said that of more than 500 different “creativity tools” known to exist worldwide, mind maps are a typical tool for “divergent thinking,” which he further breaks down into three different subgroups: free associations, forced associations and analogical thinking. Mind maps, he said, fall into the first category of free thinking, because they help people to freely associate various words and concepts.

“Brainstorming,” which was invented by American ad agency founder Alex Osborn, and “six thinking hats,” which was developed by British psychologist Edward de Bono and helps with deliberate thinking, are among other major methods in this group, he said. Buzan developed his mind-map techniques more than 30 years ago, and they have been available in Japan for many years through translations of his books.

Takahashi noted that studies of creativity have gained momentum worldwide in recent years, citing the establishment 10 years ago of an academic society in China, whose members now number 10,000, and in South Korea, which has 1,000 members.

“Creativity is not the exclusive domain of geniuses,” Takahashi said. “These techniques can be taught in schools to bring out students’ creativity.”

While here, Buzan also conducted a seminar to train and certify “official” mind-map instructors for the launch of training courses in Japan. Despite the steep cost of 840,000 yen per head, the seminar attracted 70 applicants for just 47 places, perhaps illustrating just how keen the interest is at the moment in improving your mental powers.

One participant in the three-day seminar was Yutaka Shiraishi, professor of sports science at Fukushima University.

Shiraishi, who has worked as a mental coach for Japanese Olympic athletes and professional baseball players, says he read Buzan’s book 24 years ago and often uses the tool in his job. In fact, days before the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, mind maps helped Japanese female basketball players recover from losses and get back on the court, he said.

“Back then, the team had won consecutively for four months and was fully confident that they would do well in Atlanta,” he said. “But right before the Olympic Games, they lost to Australia and China. It was a huge shock for them. So on the way back to the players’ village in Atlanta, we organized our thoughts through mind maps. I told them to write one map on the theme of ‘What was the problem?’ One branch was to be about mind, another was about physical aspects. Then we wrote another map, about what we could do. This helped their minds get clearer. . . . Mind map is an excellent tool for extracting thoughts and putting them on paper.”

For more information about Tony Buzan’s work, visit For information in Japanese, visit Buzan Centers Worldwide Japan KK’s Web site at

Japan Creativity Society’s URL

Source of article above: Take note: You needn’t always think straight: Mind maps are food for thought By TOMOKO OTAKE Japan Times, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006

5 thoughts on “Tony Buzan’s mind mapping method”

  1. 18-Nov-2008 » Training Press Releases » The Learning Technologies 2009 Conference will open with a keynote address by Tony Buzan, the creator of Mind Mapping, on why in difficult economic times businesses should be increasing Read entire press release here

  2. I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be much more useful than ever before.

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