Making Choices


• General decision-making

• Simple decision-making t Journey through the mind of a Mind Mapper, Part 3

• Making the choice

• Dealing with indecision

• Decision-making exercises

• Benefits of dyadic Mind Maps

OPPOSITE: Natural Architecture Plate 14 - 123 -


The Mind Map is a particularly useful tool for clarifying personal choices, fy using the Mind Map to set out your needs and desires, priorities and constrar you will be able to make decisions based on a clearer view of the questi involved. Having gained a comprehensive knowledge of the Mind Mapp' laws, use this chapter to help you utilise your new-found skills to make decisio general decision-making

In general decision-making the Mind Map helps you to balance competing; factors.

Let's take the example of deciding whether or not to buy a new car. You require a certain degree of comfort and quality but you don't have a great deal of money. You may therefore have to go for a second-hand car and so you will have to weigh up the financial saving against the reduction in reliability and durability.

The Mind Map does not make the choice for you. However it dramatical^ increases your ability to make the choice by highlighting the key trade-offs.

simple decision-making

A simple choice of this kind is known as a dyadic decision (derived from the Latin dyas, meaning 'two'). Dyadic decisions are the first stage in crea'' order. They can be broadly categorised as evaluation decisions, and they involve simple choices such as: yes/no, better/worse, stronger/weaker, more effective/less effective, more efficient/less efficient, more expensive/less expensive. The third journey through the mind of a Mind Mapper will provide a good example.

journey through the mind of a mind mapper, part 3

Visiting our host once again, we find that he or she is involved in deciding whether or not to buy a house.

Following the Mind Mapping laws, a multi-dimensional, multi-coloured image is placed at the centre of the Mind Map. Because this is an evaluation decision, the Basic Ordering Ideas are the dyadic yes and no.

Having established the central image and the major branches, our host follows the Mini-Mind Map method which allows the Mind Map to 'catch' whatever thoughts spring to mind in relation to buying the house. As soon as some of the main branches are in place our host follows the Mini-Mind Map method of allowing the sequence of thoughts in his/her head to flow naturally. Each is placed wherever it best fits on the Mind Map. Since association is rarely linear, the normal progression will involve quite a bit of leaping about from one branch to another as the sequence of thoughts dictates. Working on stress, for example, might trigger thoughts on dreams, or environment on the other side of the Mind Map. These thoughts, in turn might lead to considerations of alternatives. (A methodical branch-by-branch completion of the Mind Map is not desirable because it restricts the brain's workings and traps it into a semi-chronological method of thinking.) It is far better to let the mind range free, allowing the full range of thoughts and emotions to be incorporated within the growing web of associations.

The use, by our host, of images and colours is especially important in decision-making because these visual elements help to capture concepts and emotions. Contrary to widespread opinion, emotions are an integral part of any decision-making process and should therefore be given appropriate importance in the Mind Map.


Once all the relevant information, thoughts and emotions have been collated on to the Mind Map, there are five major methods for making a dyadic choice:

X Process-generated

In many cases the process of Mind Mapping itself generates the solution. As the brain gets an overview of all the data it has gathered there is a sudden 'aha!' realisation which effectively concludes the decision-making process.

M Number-weighting

If, after completion of the Mind Map, the decision is still not clear, the number-weighting method can be used. In this method, each specific key word on either side of the Mind Map is given a number from 1 to 100 according to its importance (see overleaf).

When each item has been given a number, the 'scores' are added up, first for the 'yes' side and then for the 'no' side. The highest total 'wins'.

The Mind Map overleaf by Vanda North, past President of the International Society for Accelerated Learning and Teaching, and Co-founder of The Brain Trust, gives a clear example of the number-weighting Mind Map. Vanda had

Costing Mind Map

item problems futupe-local. Cost

Mind Map by Vanda North helping her make a decision as to whether or not to move her business (see pages 125-6).

item problems futupe-local. Cost

Mind Map by Vanda North helping her make a decision as to whether or not to move her business (see pages 125-6).

to weight a number of personal and professional factors in deciding whether to move her business headquarters or remain where she was. You can see which won!


If neither the first nor the second method has generated a decision, a choice can be made on the basis of intuition or 'gut feel'.

Intuition is a much-maligned mental skill which I and neuropsychologist Michael Gelb prefer to define as a 'superlogic'. The brain uses superlogic in order to consider its vast data bank (consisting of many billions of items gained from previous experience) in relation to any decision it has to make.

In a flash the brain completes the most astounding mathematical calculations, considering trillions of possibilities and permutations, in order to arrive at a mathematically precise estimate of probable success which might be subconsciously expressed as follows:

'Having considered the virtually infinite database of your previous life, and integrated that with the trillion items of data you have presented me with in the current decision-making situation, my current estimate of your probability of success is 83.7862 per cent

He result of this massive calculation registers in the brain, is translated into a biological reaction, and is interpreted by the individual as a simple 'gut feel'.

fStudies at Harvard Business School have found that managers and presidents of national and multi-national organisations attributed 80 per cent of their mess to acting on intuition or 'gut feel'.

The Mind Map is especially useful for this form of super-thinking, in that it gives the brain a wider range of information on which to base its calculations.

T Incubation

Another method is to simply allow your brain to incubate an idea. In other words, having completed your decision-making Mind Map, you allow your brain to relax. It is at times of rest and solitude that our brains harmonise and integrate all the data they have received. And it is at such times that we often make our most important and accurate decisions, because relaxation releases die gigantic powers of the parabrain - the 99 per cent of our unused mental ability, including that which is often called 'the subconscious'. (For more on this, see Tony Buzan, Harnessing the ParaBrain.)

This method is supported by practical experience. For instance, many people report suddenly remembering where something is, suddenly having creative ideas, or suddenly realising that they need to make a particular choice, while lying in the bath, shaving, driving, long-distance running, lying in bed, daydreaming, gardening, sitting on the beach, walking in the countryside, or being in any other calm, restful, solitary situation. It is advisable that you use this technique because it is in this kind of situation that your brain harmonises and integrates, and as a result, tends to make its most meaningful and accurate decisions.

If the weightings are equal

If you have completed your Mind Map, and none of the previous methods has generated a decision, there must be an equal weighting between 'yes' and 'no'. In a case like this, either choice will be satisfactory, and you may find it useful simply to toss a coin (the ultimate dyadic device) - heads for one option, tails for the other.

During the coin-tossing you should monitor your emotions very carefully, in case you find that you really do have a preference. You may think you have decided that the choice is equal but your parabrain may already have made its superlogical decision.

If the coin shows heads, and your first reaction is one of disappointment or relief then your true feelings will finally be revealed and you will be able to make an appropriate choice.


In a very few instances all the above decision-making methods will fail and you will be left swinging to and fro like a pendulum.

At this point the brain is undergoing a subtle shift from the dyadic (two-option) choice to a triadic (three-option) choice. The decision is no longer simply 'yes' or 'no'. It is now:

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