In my mind, the best of the word mapping techniques is the Lotus Blossom. My students repeatedly say the Lotus Blossom is the most effective brainstorming tool for generating a wide range of ideas. The magic of the Lotus Blossom is its structure. Based on a grid system of expanding nine unit squares, it takes one concept and turns it into eight more. This process expands exponentially as long as you feel like doing it. Once you fill the first series of squares, you already have 64 new concepts. Do it again, and you have 512.
The process starts with a unit of nine squares, one in the middle with eight surrounding it. The middle square is for the initial problem or concept. Around it, you fill in the squares with related concepts. After those eight are filled, you then create a new nine square unit for each one of the new concepts. The visual it creates looks like a lotus blossom.
The reason these are so effective is their inherent structure makes you keep expanding on concepts. Traditional word maps don’t have this. As a result, sometimes people spending a lot of time generating a lot if words that are very similar. Lotus Blossoms on the other hand essentially make you keep broadening the topics.
To create some added value I include one or two directives in each nine square unit. For instance, if the main topic is productivity, I would include the words “where” and “not” in that first unit. In the related unit for “where,” I’d fill in the squares with where we find productivity. In the “not” unit, I’d fill it with where we usually don’t find productivity.
Lotus Blossoms are fast and effective. And they don’t depend on a facilitator. Best of all, they work for groups and individuals.