Write in the middle of a page or your screen a word or phrase that describes the essence of your problem or outcome, and put a circle around it. Begin with a word or image that symbolizes what you want to think about. Place it in the middle of the page. Start with an open, playful attitude ... you can always get serious later.
Free Associate. As ideas emerge, print one or two word descriptions of the ideas on lines branching from the central focus. Allow the ideas to expand outward into branches and sub-branches. Put down all ideas. Without judging or assessing, fire away for two minutes and write around this trigger word as many aspects of your problem or outcome as possible. Do not evaluate; just keep firing.
Capture that explosion of ideas as rapidly as possible. Look for relationships between the words. If they appear to be related, draw arrows between them, connecting the key thoughts. Add more words as necessary.
Step back and examine your map to determine three or four main concepts. Assign a geometric symbol to each of those main concepts and draw that symbol (i.e. a circle, triangle, square) around each of the words in the map that would be grouped under that concept (in other words, create clusters).
Organize these clusters on another page or piece of paper by drawing the concepts at the top of the page and listing the related words in a logical order below that reflects the symbol and cluster.
Further clarify the problem or outcome. For example, 'Do other stakeholders have different points of view and why?'
Restate your outcome for potential partners.