How to Make a Concept Map Diagram (With Examples)

Concept Map Examples to Showcase Your Project Ideas

Do you believe you’re a visual thinker? Do you often feel it’s easier to draw a diagram or connect ideas on a whiteboard than write a document?

Then, you’ll find that a concept map is a fantastic productivity tool. Of course, you can draw on a notepad and click a picture, but there’s a better way.

Let’s look at the benefits and uses of a digital concept map. We’ve also brought some examples for inspiration.

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What is a Concept Map?

A concept map is a visual representation of an idea, process, or principle, illustrating meanings and connections between the various elements. A concept map could be a process flow chart, organizational hierarchy, or a mind map of a new product/feature.

Key elements of a concept map are:

  • Main idea/concept
  • Related ideas/concepts
  • Lines or arrows denoting connections between them

Why use a concept map?

Using a concept map provides innumerable benefits, such as:

Simplifying complexity

Take the example of a product development team. Even a simple product can have dozens of features, each with multiple user stories, and acceptance criteria. All this information can get too unwieldy. A concept map helps simplify these in a visual, yet connected, way.

Better understanding

Concept maps help grasp complex information by visually displaying the relationships between different concepts. 

For example, in a construction project, the concept map might include site preparation, foundation work, framing, and finishing. This single-pane view connects concepts to help the team understand the bigger picture and the sequence of activities clearly.

Effective problem-solving

Using concept maps, teams can systematically break down problems into smaller, manageable parts and visualize potential solutions. Unlike an outline, which follows a linear path, concept maps allow you to connect various complex ideas, even if they’re disparate.

Meaningful collaboration

Sometimes, it’s better to see something rather than hear/read about it. Concept maps enable that. Concept maps ensure that everyone paints the same picture.

Accountability

Hierarchical concept maps of the organization’s structure can ensure that everyone has the same view of each other’s responsibilities. This helps the team work together as a unit, supporting each other in the process.

What can concept maps be used for?

At its core, a concept map is merely a visual representation of an idea or a process. This means that you can use it for any number of purposes, such as:

  • Planning a project roadmap
  • Documenting a complex process
  • Organizing an event
  • Brainstorming ideas for a new logo
  • Preparing a presentation for the next board meeting

Who can benefit from concept maps?

A concept map can be great for anyone who needs to explain an idea to a larger group of people, such as project managers, finance professionals, IT teams, operations leaders, etc. 

That’s a lot of good talk. Now, let’s see concept maps in action.

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10 Concept Map Examples for Different Use Cases

In this section, we’ve curated ten of the most useful concept maps for project managers, IT professionals, and operations leaders. We’ve also included links to ClickUp templates you can use to apply these examples to your needs.

1. Concept map for simple relationships

Concept map for simple relationships
Source: JamesClear.com

James Clear, while writing of habits, says that “you can make incredible progress if you are consistent and patient.” He demonstrates this using a concept map, demonstrating the connection between the sustainability and effort involved in each habit.

A simple diagram of two lines and a curve helps in two ways:

  • Explain the concept unequivocally
  • Aid in remembering the concept over the long term

If that seems too simple, let’s get into more complex concepts.

Chemical biology flowchart
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The scientific discipline of chemical biology comprises of four components, which you’ll see illustrated in the image above. This spider concept map is a great example because it simply and clearly explains the fundamental idea. The illustrations representing each component also make it easier to remember.

Another important benefit of this concept map is that it lends itself to expansion. For instance, if you need to include the components of biochemistry, you could just add another connecting line.

Have an idea in mind? ClickUp’s concept map template is designed for you! It’s beginner-friendly, fully customizable, and can serve a number of use cases.

Concept Mapping Whiteboards template by ClickUp
ClickUp concept map template

3. Concept maps for organizational frameworks

 Concept maps for organizational frameworks
Source: Latoya Bowlah on Medium

Marketers have used the funnel model (a concept map in itself) for long. Today, as an extension of the funnel, the hourglass model has evolved. Product marketing expert, Latoya Bowlah, illustrates it in the way you see above.

This is a great example, not just for the fact that it makes the concept extraordinarily clear but also that it makes future plans much simpler.

For instance, you can add elements like campaign ideas or messaging for each stage. You can link related campaigns, such as retention and advocacy emails, to draw a complete picture. 

ClickUp’s campaign launch brainstorm template can get you there! 

4. Concept maps for processes

A concept map can be a transformational process improvement tool. While a process map is more likely to be a linear step-by-step illustration, a concept map can be more free. So, it might serve as a great starting point for crystallizing the process.

Concept maps for processes
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In this example, you’ll see that the process map is supported by information about current tools, human solutions, and technical solutions available. Linking words that are related helps visualize factors that influence the process. 

With various shapes, colors, and connections, you can create a comprehensive documentation of the process you seek to design. In that sense, a concept map can also become an effective process mapping tool.

For software engineering teams, ClickUp’s bug and issue tracking concept map would be a great starting point in designing the quality process.

5. Decision tree concept maps

Decision tree concept maps
Source: Dave Gray on Flickr

Decision trees make actionable concept maps. Simply put, a decision tree is the breakdown of the question into smaller sub-components to explore all possible decisions.

In the world of project management outsourcing, decision tree concept maps can help the extended team do the right thing as per company policy and culture. The above decision tree serves as one such example for customer service teams.

It is great inspiration because it not only explores the possible decisions but also their consequences. The visual of a sad ‘dissatisfied customer’ at the bottom right is sure to make anyone think again about giving up.

Create your frameworks with ClickUp’s decision tree concept map

6. Concept maps for learning use cases

Concept maps for learning use cases
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The above concept map, using stickie notes, is a simple example of a higher education curriculum. It’s a great example because it serves as a great foundation to build lesson plans and training modules.

For instance, if you’re a corporate trainer in communication practices, your concept map might include verbal communication, non-verbal communication, body language, inclusive language, etc. You can then outline each of these modules and expand on the lessons.

7. Get Things Done concept map

Getting-things-done-concept-map
Source: Ammon Beckstrom on Flickr

David Allen’s Getting Things Done is a very popular and widely used framework across industries. The concept includes a number of factors including actionability, time it would take, next action items, etc.

For instance, let’s say you’re taking action on email requests. Here’s how it might go.

  • What is it? Expense reimbursement request
  • Is it actionable? Yes
  • What’s the next action? Approve or deny request
  • Will it take less than 2 minutes? Yes
  • Do it! Give the approval

Ammon Beckstrom’s concept map visualizes this clearly in a flow chart, making its application easier and consistent. By using this flow chart a few times repeatedly, you’ll memorize it, making future decisions significantly quicker and more effective.

8. Activity concept maps

In any organization, teams perform a number of tasks and activities. Each project is made up of multiple activities and milestones. Concept maps can help reiterate the importance of each activity and outline what needs to be performed.

The following concept map seeks to answer the focus question: What can a UX document describe? 

Activity-concept-maps
Source: Boon Yew Chew on Flickr

It demonstrates the activities to be performed and their connections to each other. A product team might use this concept map to create comprehensive and consistent UX documents personalized to their product/organization.

9. Software architecture concept map

Software-architecture-concept-map
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Every software team creates an architecture diagram for the products they build. This is then used by the development, testing, and DevOps teams. 

The above concept map is a powerful example of visualizing an approach/thought process rather than a specific design itself. A similar concept map outlining the basic philosophy of the organization’s architecture design is a great addition to the product documentation. It will help teams of the future with meaningful learning to build on or troubleshoot product-related problems.

10. Customer journey concept map

ClickUp's customer journey concept map
ClickUp’s customer journey concept map

In today’s business, the customer journey is a key factor in the growth team’s efforts. Everyone in sales, marketing, and customer success seeks to influence the various steps. 

For instance, the sales team might have specific templates/processes for discovery, which then serve as an important input for the onboarding and adoption conversation. This concept map helps you link related concepts and get the entire journey right.

Are you inspired to create concept maps yet? If yes, let’s take a look at how.

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How to Create a Concept Map

To create a concept map, all you need is pen and paper. However, to share, collaborate, improve, and use the concept map effectively, you might be better served with a digital concept mapping tool. 

ClickUp’s all-in-one AI project management tool includes a whiteboard, a mind-mapping tool, and multiple concept map templates for you to get started.

ClickUp Whiteboard

ClickUp is one of the best whiteboard software, with versatile visual collaboration features. It enables you to create and connect shapes, text, stickie notes, images, tasks, and even documents. 

With ClickUp Whiteboard, you can simply drag and drop the elements you need to create a clear concept plan. Once you’re done, convert general concepts into specific tasks to make them actionable and manage the progress right within ClickUp.

Customizable templates

What’s more? ClickUp also offers a number of whiteboard templates, so you don’t have to start on a blank page.

ClickUp Mind Maps

Another way to create your concept map is to use mind-mapping software. ClickUp Mind Maps enables you to:

  • Create diagrams that start with a central idea
  • Branch out into related key concepts and sub-topics
  • Edit existing maps/workflows with a simple drag-and-drop feature
  • Create reference points as nodes to highlight important points 
  • Convert them into tasks as and when required

Customizable templates

First time mind-mapper? We’ve brought help with several customizable mind map templates.

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Walk Through Complex Concepts Confidently With ClickUp

Today’s knowledge workers use dozens of concepts and frameworks on a daily basis. For instance, the product team might be following Agile/Scrum methodology. The content team might follow the storybrand philosophy. Training a new team member on each of these concepts can be a challenge.

A good concept map, included within the virtual workspace like ClickUp can serve as a training tool as well as a constant reminder to everyone on the team. 

By mapping out project components, relationships, and dependencies, you can comprehensively view the project scope and structure, ensuring clarity and alignment among all stakeholders.

See how you can use ClickUp’s features to create your own concept map and bring clarity and alignment to your organization. Try ClickUp for free today.

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