Wednesday, 13 August 2014

How to Use Question Sets...

MindGenius provides a selection of pre-installed Question Sets.
Question Sets are available for a range of subjects and purposes such as strategy, planning, essay writing and writing a business plan, among others.
Question Sets are key questions on a range of subjects designed to help you explore that topic more fully, and help you build your map quicker by prompting you with key questions that help to ensure a thoroughly explored topic. They also ensure your map is well structured and stays on track.
Question Sets also help you get the most out of your Template maps.
You can also create your own customised Question Sets.
This “How To” guide outlines how you can set up and use Question Sets… 
 
Where will I find and select Question Sets?

Question Sets are available via the Question Sets menu on the Home Ribbon:
 
 
 
• Switch to the Home Ribbon
• Click Question Sets to show the Question Sets Menu
• Select a Question Set
 
The selected Question Set will be loaded into the Question Set Task Pane on the left hand side of the screen Question Sets
  
 
How Do I Create My Own Custom Question Sets?

Question Sets are created via the Edit Question Sets command on the Tools Ribbon: 

 

To create a new Question Set:
• Switch to the Tools Ribbon
• Click Edit Questions Sets
• Click the New Question Set icon
• Enter a name for the Question Set, or select an Existing Question Set on which to base yours
• Click Create



Once your Question Set has been created, you can begin adding or editing Questions…
To add or edit Questions:
• Switch to the Tools Ribbon
• Click Edit Question Sets
• Select the Question set to edit by selecting it from the left panel
• Select a Question to edit or select the Set title to add a new Question, then use the Edit Question, Delete Question or Add Questions icons
• Click Save to finish editing




How Do I View Custom Question Sets: 

 To view your Custom Question Sets:
• Switch to the Home Ribbon
• Click Question Sets to view the Question Set menu
• Select from the Custom Question Sets sub-menu (as opposed to “Installed”)
• Select a Question Set to view
The selected Question Set will be loaded into the Question set panel of the Task Pane
 

 

Branch Properties Can Be Formatted and User-Defined

Map Branch properties can be formatted and user-defined to suit individual needs and to add colour and various properties to any/all branches. This provides visual enhancement, highlights areas of importance and enhances  learning experiences, among other benefits.  These properties include:
• Font properties
• Branch Shapes
• Fill colour
• Branch Connectors
• Auto Colour
• Branch Spacing
• Copying and Pasting Branch Styles

 

Where Can I Find the Branch Format Functions?

The formatting functions are located on the Format ribbon.

 
Font properties of branches are changed via the Font command group on the Format Ribbon. This includes Font type, size, foreground and background colour.
(Multi-select should be used to change the properties within multiple branches)
 
 
Branch shape and Fill colour can be customized through the Branch Appearance command group.
(From the Branch Shape tab of the Branch Appearance dialog you can change: Branch Shape; Line Style; Line Width; Fill Colour and Boundary Colour).
 
 
 
In MindGenius colour can be used to enhance the meaning of a map as well as to help it look good. Colour, for instance, can be used to code or categorize a map after a brainstorming session, to make a particular part of the map stand out or to create an association to aid memory.
 
Branch connector type and styles for the whole map are set via the Connector Type menu on the Format Ribbon.
 
 
Auto-colour is used to highlight each thought-path in your map by assigning a different colour to each Level 1 branch.
Auto Colour is turned on and off via the Auto Colour toggle command on the Format ribbon.
 
 

The spacing MindGenius places between child branches and their parent and between sibling branches can be adjusted. The horizontal or vertical space between branches can be increased or decreased.

To adjust Branch spacing:

• Ctrl+Shift + Up Arrow will increase vertical spacing
• Ctrl+Shift+Down Arrow will decrease vertical spacing
• Ctrl+Shift+Left Arrow will decrease horizontal spacing
• Ctrl+Shift+Right Arrow will increase horizontal spacing

The style of a branch can be copied and applied on to other branches in your map. Branch styles are pasted via the Paste Style command on the Home Ribbon.
 

 


 

Improving Life Skills – The MindGenius Way

Each time I take a look into our customer base profile to gauge the depth and breadth of MindGenius use and adoption, I can’t help but be amazed at the range of age groups, job roles, work disciplines, application, uses and benefits.

Recent discussions with a colleague around this issue challenged me to pause and think “beyond the product” about the wider, bigger picture around the dynamics of what is actually taking place in our customer base.

Continuous feedback from across our varied customer base confirms the basics of what we would expect from users who have carried out their own thorough research around their specific needs, requirements and how MindGenius can meet these. Not unexpectedly it points to confirming that MindGenius delivers in the key aspects and across a wide range of applications:
• Helps to manage information  overload
• Increase productivity
• Brings clarity and focus to tasks, activities, etc.
• Raises the quality of work and outputs overall


However, it could be argued that whilst important and impressive enough, that list could be interpreted as high level and quite general. If we scratch below the surface, we start to uncover some real and telling uses and benefits – ones that really impact on individuals and groups and contribute to wider and far-reaching benefits.
We in fact discover that the use of MindGenius actually impacts on people’s core skills – it acts as leverage and a catalyst to the way people actually…
• Think through problems and challenges
• Improve a range of planning and organisation activities
• Approach learning, studying and knowledge management
• Cope with, manage and work through change
• Research topics
• Generally perform in more efficient and productive ways

 
What we see happening is when users engage with the combination of the MindGenius functionality and the mapping methodology, it becomes an intuitive and effective “way of working” that provides visualization, clarity and focus that alternative  linear, static and less creative and engaging methodologies simply do not provide (in fact have the opposite negative effect).
So, whether you are young, mature, in education, in business, office based, in management / leadership, or whatever, the MindGenius approach will augment your own skills and approaches, and in most instances help you noticeably improve them.
 
Going back therefore to my original viewpoint of “beyond the product”, the use and adoption of the MindGenius methodology simply improves the way we tackle these everyday tasks, activities, challenges and plans, etc.
 
The map diagram above is a quick brainstorm of the various areas we can prove the impact as a result of some of the ways our customers apply MindGenius. These areas are vital Life Skill aspects. Think of how many times you, or someone you know, at home, in education, or in business need to display or even improve on these Life Skills… if our research and customer feedback highlights real and tangible benefits and results in each one of these areas / skills through the use and application of MindGenius, we surely cannot afford to miss out on availing ourselves of the opportunity to further improve the way we work, perform and generally apply our personal armoury of Life Skills?
 
If you feel you are possibly not getting the best of MindGenius in these all important Life Skills, or you know someone who could benefit from being introduced to or increasing their use of MindGenius, we have the experience, knowledge and practical Know-how to help – just get in touch – we’d be delighted to hear from you!
 
There are numerous Resources both within the MindGenius product Help and with the Resources Section of our website www.mindgenius.com
We also provide advice and professional training and consultancy services to help you get the most out of MindGenius and its applications for many personal, business and education uses.
Contact us anytime on
info@mindgenius.com



Author Bio: Jamie MacDonald, Head of Client Development at MindGenius. Jamie is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator and coach with over 20 years’ experience in training, development, HRM and business improvement.



 

Mind Mapping for Project Management

Not the most obvious scenario for project managers or project workers – using mind mapping software for planning project requirements, creating work breakdown structures (WBS), then going on to use the same mind mapping software to schedule and ongoing monitor, control and close – what on earth could mind mapping possibly add or contribute to the project management process?
• Are there any advantages or benefits?
• How can there be a fit?
• Does it ultimately save time and effort?
• What possible difference or value can this approach bring?

Similar to adoption of any other process, tool or solution, the use of mind mapping software needs to deliver value, tangible benefits, process improvement, increased efficiency and improved productivity. The expectations and requirements therefore are no different. So, does mind mapping software, particularly in a project management environment deliver?
Absolutely it does - let’s explore how…



1. Planning


Mind Mapping enables you to quickly capture and visualize the crucial front-end of your Project.
Maps in general are a great way to read, assimilate and gain understanding on information and data. Mapping also helps with reducing “information overload” that sometimes gets in the way of understanding, decision-making and generally moving forward.

The mind mapping methodology, for example the parent / child branch relationships, together with the “drill-down” methodology, provides a visual and highly effective methodology for brainstorming ideas, layering each level of detail, ordering or grouping and getting structure and hierarchy of high-level phases and stages, through to all the tasks and activities involved.
The engaging, collaborative and visual process of Mapping provides structure, flow and aids clarity and understanding of the captured information (as a whole or in its component parts).
Modern mind mapping software provides the substantial additional benefit of being able to Categorise and Filter for parameters such as Priorities, Importance, Risk, etc, as well as being able to apply Resources and Timescales – all improving the time and effort spent trying to understand and analyse the information and introducing more momentum and efficiency to moving through the planning process.
Too often project workers start with scheduling, resorting to lists, spreadsheets, scheduling tools, etc. The use of mind mapping provides the huge benefit of visualization and “virtual whiteboard / flipchart” advantage to up the ante on the critical planning stage. This supports the “planning for success” ethos where proper, well-thought-through planning increases the chances of success (the opposite of “fail to plan, plan to fail” approach). Mind mapping, undoubtedly the value-adding creative front-end to the project planning.




2. Scheduling

Having benefited from thorough planning and creation of mapped project requirements (WBS), the mind maps can now be instantly and effortlessly converted to a Gantt Chart for effective scheduling.
One option can be to use the MS Office export functionality and export the map content into MS Project. This is a quick and seamless function with a ready-made MS Project Gantt schedule output saving time and effort.

However, for an even more efficient and truly seamless transition from map to Gantt view, and negating the need for MS Project, the integrated Project Mode / Gantt view provides the ideal functionality for project scheduling.

Again the easy and intuitive user interface ensures less time and effort is spent on allocation resources and timescales, linking tasks and interdependencies, setting rules and constraints, identifying project milestones and critical path, as well as viewing and managing under and over allocation of resources.

The fact that the Gantt view is integrated within the mind mapping software means that the map and Gantt Chart are synchronised, providing additional options and benefits such as switching from one view to another, mapping alterations, additions, changes, etc., whilst the Gantt view synchronise ensures all changes are adopted within the project schedule immediately.



3. Monitor and Control

Both the mapping and Gantt Chart interfaces provide the functionality to now go on to monitor and manage all the individual tasks and activities as well as high-level stages of the Project.
Each Task can be managed by updating status in terms of progress through to completion.
A comprehensive Filtering functionality allows you to filter on any map or Gantt view criteria such as your own tasks, due dates, tasks overdue, task completed, etc. This provides a mechanism for all project workers to pro-actively collaborate on and manage tasks and project stages through to completion.
Communication and collaboration is also a major component of mind mapping software with a variety of functions and features to enable that process to be as efficient as possible. This is executed through a range of options such as Filtering, Viewer licences, printing, file sharing, export to MS Excel and the export to MS Project if required.

4. Reporting

To augment the monitoring and control mechanisms and functionality, the mind mapping software can further provide a comprehensive and reporting functionality.
An example of this in MindGenius, the leading business mind mapping software, is the way it exports all the project data into a professional and presentation-ready Report in MS Word. This is a highly effective way of portraying all aspects of the project status and progress in a highly visual, engaging, collaborative and easy-to-understand format.



The Project Reports portrays crucial project data to inform any or all stakeholders of:
• Project status overview
• Project Milestones
• Project Summaries (% complete, No of tasks, Chart)
• Tasks report (Completed, Due, Overdue)
• Critical tasks report



Conclusion

There is no doubt that modern mind mapping software provides a platform that excels at the up-front planning stage. However, the whole plethora of value-adding functionality now brings a whole new level of efficiency, clarity, focus and overall productivity to the planning, scheduling and management of the whole project lifecycle.

All of this without making the whole process cumbersome or complicated – a real bonus for businesses not just looking for tools, but for businesses looking for an under-pinning process that provides a robust methodology, all-important simplicity and visibility on all aspects of projects.
All of the above only goes to prove that mind mapping software has moved on enormously since the advent of mainstream traditional mind mapping many decades ago. Whatever your past experience of mind mapping was, whatever pre-conceptions or even misconceptions were, this is an increasing popular and ever-growing approach for people involved in all aspects of project work regardless of type and size.

If you’re looking for an innovative, creative and comprehensive way of visualizing, planning, scheduling and managing project work with added advantage of having an equally suitable tool for all other day-to-day activities (e.g. brainstorming, research, meeting management, problem solving, planning, etc.) you need to take a serious look at mind mapping software for enhanced productivity.



If you haven’t already done so, please consider MindGenius for project management or any of the above situations in your day-to-day work. If you require help or assistance there are numerous resources both within the MindGenius Help and within the Resources section of our website
www.mindgenius.com.
We also provide advice and professional training and consultancy services to help you get the most out of MindGenius and its application for many business and education uses.
Contact us anytime on
info@mindgenius.com, we’d be delighted to help!





Author Bio: Jamie MacDonald, Head of Client Development at MindGenius. Jamie is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator and coach with over 20 years’ experience in training, development, HRM and business improvement.





How to Assign Resources to Branches…

This “How To” guide outlines how you can assign Resources to branches (e.g. for actions or tasks) via the “Task” Ribbon.
 

To assign a Resource to a Branch:

• Select the Branch you want to assign a Resource to
• Click the Resource from the Resource Gallery (You can open or scroll the gallery to see more Resources)
 
 
As Resources are assigned they are pinned to the top of the Resource Gallery and given a red icon. These are Resources used in the map and make it easier for you to assign or unassign them without having to spend time trying to find them.

As Resources are assigned, their initials are shown within the Branch (bottom-left corner). Hover the mouse over the initials to see full name.
 
Using the Dropper tool: 
 
The Dropper tool is available on the Tasks ribbon and can be used to “pick” and “drop” Resources onto Branches … 
 
• Switch to the Tasks ribbon
• Select the Dropper Tool
• Pick one or more Resources from the Resource Gallery
• Click one or more Branches to assign the picked Resources

Note:
To exit Dropper mode, re-select the dropper Tool from the Ribbon or press the Esc key.

MindGenius has a Review Mode

MindGenius Version 5 incorporates a Review Mode which lets you track Reviewer changes and capture comments.
Reviewers can edit maps as normal but are prompted to contribute their reasons before committing the changes – this enables you to review once the map is sent back to you.

Maps are switched in and out of Review Mode via the Review Mode Toggle command on the “Tools” Ribbon.
 
 

How can I access and Use Review Mode?

• Switch to the Tools ribbon
• Click Review Mode
• Enter the Map Owner name
• Click OK


Once the map is in Review Mode you can add comments of your own or send the map to others for review.


 
Whilst in Review Mode, you can:

• Use the Send Map command to send the map to others for review, or return the map to its owner
• Select the Add Comment command to add comments to the selected branch
• View comments and changes made by Reviewers via the Comments and Changes Pane
• Apply a filter to the map to show only branches with comments
• Spell check the map by clicking “Spell Check”


If you feel you, your team, or other MindGenius users could do with a helping hand to get more out of MindGenius and get better users truly adopting MindGenius as a productivity tool, simply contact us at info@mindgenius.com to arrange a call to discuss your requirements.

6 Uses for Mind Mapping in Business

Whatever your pre-conceptions, or even misconceptions, of Mind Mapping, it is now becoming truly embedded as a real value-adding approach in many aspects of planning and working throughout the business and education sectors. The added power of mind mapping software such as MindGenius has propelled this methodology into the all-important efficiency and productivity arenas.
 
Through the utilisation of Mind Mapping in your organisation or business (particularly through the adoption of MindGenius business mind mapping software) you are able to:

• Capture and visualise ideas, knowledge and information easier and quicker
• Reduce “information overload” dramatically
• Gain better understanding of the mapped topic or subject matter
• Save time and effort in planning and execution of tasks and projects
• Capture, enhance, improve and communicate processes
• Have better focus and clarity on all tasks, activities, plans, strategies, projects, etc. and much more…..

 
There are many wide and varied uses, applications, not to mention tangible benefits and productivity gains to be realised from the application of mind mapping in a business context.
This document outlines 6 main uses…


(Map created using MindGenius business mind mapping software)

1. Planning and Analysis
 
Mind Mapping enables you to quickly capture and visualize the various strands of your Plan.
The parent / child Branch relationships, together with the “drill-down” methodology, provides a visual and highly effective methodology for dividing topics, layering each level of detail, ordering or grouping and getting structure and hierarchy in terms of analysing the information.
The engaging and visual process of Mapping provides structure, flow and aids clarity and understanding of the captured information (as a whole or in its component parts).
MindGenius provides the substantial additional benefit of being able to Categorise and Filter for parameters such as Priorities, Importance, Risk, etc, as well as being able to apply Resources and Timescales – all improving the time and effort spent trying to understand and analyse the information and introducing more momentum and efficiency to moving through the whole “plan/analyse/decide/do” process.

This methodology can be applied to any personal, business or strategic planning, objective setting, research, analysis of information/data, “to-do” lists, as well as many uses in education and learning.
 

2. Capturing Knowledge & Information
 
One of the major strengths of using Mind Mapping for capturing knowledge and information around any given topic is the clarity and focus that the capture and visualisation interface provides.
The Mind Mapping methodology provides structure, linkages, relationships, as well as the ability to tackle the initial capture stage from a “blank sheet” perspective, or map out a skeleton structure to guide the process.
Maps are a great way to read, assimilate and gain understanding on a range of topics, plans, problems, projects, research work, learning and revision, etc. Mapping also helps with reducing “information overload” that sometimes gets in the way of understanding, decision-making and generally moving forward.
The added value and benefit of utilising MindGenius software includes the ability to add Notes to branches; link to documents and URLs; Navigate large maps easily with Map Explorer; Categorise branches to aid decision making, analysis and prioritisation; Filtering; Export to MS Office applications, etc.

3. Project Management
 
The mapping methodology really excels at the crucial “front-end” Planning stage of Project Management – providing an ideal format and layout for capturing the hierarchy, structure and order of all tasks and activities that form the project requirements or “Work Breakdown Structure”.
MindGenius software provides the platform to go further than Planning, providing the functionality to Schedule, Monitor, Manage and Report. It enables you to brainstorm the project requirements in a highly engaging and visual way. The integral Gantt functionality (or export to MS Project) provides the easy and intuitive format to allocate Resources, Start Dates, Durations, End Dates, Interdependencies, Constraints, etc. Built-in Filtering, export and significant reporting capability provides further efficiency, visibility and management capability to monitor and manage through the whole project lifecycle.
 
 
4. Action & Task Management
 
Bringing clarity and focus to meetings, discussions or any other situation where the “What / Who / When” needs to be clear, well-defined and communicated – that’s where the use of mind mapping really does add value.  Easily and quickly mapping out the Actions, assigning ownership and committing to timescales / deadlines, all contributing to a visual representation of agreed actions and outcomes.
MindGenius allows quick and easy mapping of Actions and then the dynamic application of Resources and Due Dates. The further advantage of being able to communicate Tasks through , for example, the synchronisation with MS Outlook, combined with Filtering capability for Resources and Dates, provide a truly beneficial method for agreeing, allocating and managing Tasks – another example of  a more efficient and productive way of working.

5. Prioritising & Decision Making
 
Mind Mapping enables not only the effective, visual way of capturing ideas, knowledge and information, but also to create structure, hierarchy and order – particularly useful if you need to get to a point of identifying priorities or needing to arrive at well-informed decisions.
Again the visual aspect is a huge benefit, as is the breakdown and drill-down effect that aids understanding and negates potential “information overload”.
The usefulness and efficiency that the use of Map structuring, navigation, Categories, Filters, etc, brings via the application of MindGenius further improves and enhances the whole process.
It also provides a vehicle for communicating and presenting the actual “information journey” as well as the outcomes with clarity and focus.
 
6. Effective Meeting Management

Again, mapping brings more clarity and focus to each stage of the effective meeting process – from planning, the actual meeting itself, on to assigning priorities, actions and timescales and through to monitoring and managing agreed outcomes and actions to completion.
MindGenius software provides the intuitive and easy-to-use interface to map and manage the whole end-to-end meeting management process – the purpose/objectives, planning, execution stage, follow-up and close out. This is achieved through: easy and quick capturing of all information; sorting and grouping for hierarchy, structure and related topics; Categories and Filtering as/if required for priorities, decisions; allocation of Resources for Task ownership; allocation of Due Dates; Task status and progress monitoring; synchronisation with MS Outlook; and many more ways to simplify and provide clarity and focus at all stages – a really visual and productive way of working!

 
Other Uses:

The “6 Uses” above are of course only some of the many wide and varied personal and business uses for Mind Mapping and MindGenius. When you think of the underpinning methodology and processes afforded by the powerful combination of the technique and the software, it opens up a whole new dimension for creativity and productivity enhancements in many aspects of day-to-day tasks and activities, e.g…

• Brainstorming
• Problem solving
• Risk analysis
• Objective setting
• Learning, study and revision
• Research
• Change management
• Creative thinking tools and techniques
and more…


If you haven’t already done so, please take a serious look at using MindGenius for any or all of the above situations in your day-to-day work. If you require help or assistance there are numerous resources both within the MindGenius Help and within the Resources section of our website www.mindgenius.com.
We also provide advice and professional training and consultancy services to help you get the most out of MindGenius and its application for many business and education uses.
Contact us anytime on
info@mindgenius.com, we’d be delighted to help!






Author Bio: Jamie MacDonald, Head of Client Development at MindGenius. Jamie is a highly experienced trainer, facilitator and coach with over 20 years’ experience in training, development, HRM and business improvement.