Concept Maps

A Gift From Human & Machine Cognition


Concept maps are graphical tools for organising and representing knowledge. They help teams construct, navigate, share and critique knowledge models.


The benefits are:

  • Quicker to create than long-hand text

  • Quicker to read than long-hand text

  • More flexible than Mind-maps

  • Develops a holistic view

  • Sparks ideation, insight & innovation.


I became an enthusiastic concept-mapper back in the mid '90s. I had been a fan of Mind-mapping before that but found its recursive branch structure limiting. These days I create dozens of Concept maps on all projects and across almost every aspect of change..

Concept maps are a visual way to organise your thoughts and make connections between ideas. They improve our ability to understand, share and remember concepts.

Concept maps consist of three elements: shapes, arrows, and text. The subject is at the top and the related ideas become more specific as you move down the map. In this way, concept maps are different from Mind-maps that just have information in every direction around a subject.

Also Mind-maps place emphasis on the branches rather than links between concepts. Relationship links are made explicit in Concept-mapping.

The two linked concepts with the relationship is called a preposition:

The relationship between concepts uses linking phrases such as ‘causes’, ‘requires’, ‘contributes to', or as in the example below, ‘examples are’ and ‘are triggered by’. And, of course, many others - I’m sure you get the drift.

In a concept map, each word or phrase connects to another, and links back to the original idea, word, or phrase. Concept maps are a way to develop early ideas or assumptions and see the larger whole. Concept maps work best when you start with a 'Focus Question', however, if you're stuck you might use a Concept map to create one!