Once, I was working with a design team to create a first version of a vision map under a tight deadline. After we gathered the content we needed, the team took a break while I sketched out six thumbnail concepts to layout the content. Going off of what I assumed about the design team, my first five thumbnails were traditional and businessy, all arrows and boxes. With about a minute before the team came back from break and out of ideas, I drew a mountaintop, with content laid out on the summit, hiking trails, ski slopes, and surrounding clouds. I thought there was no way the design team would go for it.
Surprise: the team loved the mountaintop layout.
After gathering content, sketching six thumbnails concept drawings is your next step in designing a vision map. The first few thumbnails will capture the most obvious ideas. It may feel like a stretch to come up with the last few thumbnails, but real creativity often shows up once the obvious ideas are out of the way. Share your thumbnails with the core design team to get their feedback and decide on the overall look of the vision map. Use what you know about shape, layout, metaphor, and visual vocabulary to come up with ideas for the six thumbnails.