Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Hints & Tips – Formatting Branch Titles

We are often mapping in preparation for our next meeting, brainstorming, or presentation or generally keeping clarity on and managing one or more current projects. These business orientated maps can be large and content rich with very little need for colour and graphical content.

Sometimes though there is a need to introduce a level of formatting to our maps. As well as adding branch shapes, pictures, backgrounds etc., the Branch Title itself can be formatted to help make your map memorable or emphasize particular bits of information. This can be utilised by those in business to highlight key points, or by those in Education to make the map more visually appealing for students.

Fig. 1 Map showing various branch formatting options

The Edit Branch dialog can be expanded (Select the Format button) to provide access to the formatting features.

Fig. 2 Edit Branch dialog

Fig. 3 Expanded Edit Branch dialog

Once expanded all you need to do is select a word(s) and use the Font and Colour options in order to achieve mixed formatting within your branch title.

You can also select "Insert Symbol" here which provides access to the symbols available on your PC.

The branch format dialogue ensures it’s easy and quick to update all of these branch properties. Do you add formatting to your maps? What are the main reasons you do this?

Mentoring: mapping the path to empowerment in the workplace

Human capital is often one of the largest resources in a company and whether it’s an NHS organisation or a firm operating in any other industry it makes sense to invest in supporting people, developing their ability and improving their confidence and undertaking a mentoring programme with staff is one way to do this.


Mary Duggan works as part of a business development and planning team at a large NHS Trust in West Yorkshire. As part of her role she is involved in mentoring staff members who make the transition from clinician to team manager.

Mary uses MindGenius to empower employees during mentoring programmes, to demonstrate her skills as an active listener who can offer constructive help and support to those she is mentoring. This makes her team members feel valued and enables her to gain their trust and genuinely facilitate their progression. Here she explains how MindGenius assists her with this:

How does mind-mapping help?

For people who are moving up the career ladder and micromanaging as a result, I can use mind-mapping software to help them clearly separate the things they are responsible for doing from the tasks they need to ensure their team deliver. We can then colour-code them in the mind-map so they are clearly defined and each team member, including the mentee, can see the areas they are responsible for. This helps the person being mentored to manage their own workload and that of the team and is great for helping to build their confidence as a manager. The map can then be printed out or exported to Microsoft Excel or Project and put in a place where everyone can see it. If a job feels unmanageable helping people map it out means they can see how many plates they need to keep spinning!

Sometimes people will feel things aren’t going well and that they need a mentor but are not able to pinpoint why. In these circumstances I get them to talk about what is happening in their career and life outside of work and I’ll capture everything they say in MindGenius mind-mapping software. This allows me to literally build a picture of what is going on in their life and from there we can identify and link common themes which helps us understand the issues that need addressing.

The importance of feeling settled

When people make the transition from one job to another it can be unsettling and this is perpetuated when their people networks become disrupted – something that can occur when a role, department or company changes. The importance of maintaining relationships cannot be underestimated and people can feel lost when they break down.

One of the ways I help to ease this transition is by helping people map their people network so they don’t lose touch. This includes mapping formal and informal networks and I’ll ask questions around who they turn to for emotional support, who they look to for advice with problem solving and who can help keep the team running for example. It’s also useful to note what the mentee has to offer each of the people in their network so they can see the relationship is mutually beneficial. This means that when times feel tough, the owner of the mind-map can instantly see their entire support network and where they can seek help. This process also draws attention to gaps in peer networks which the experienced mentors might be able to help fill from their own contact book.

Power to the people

When I use MindGenius it sends a very clear message that the process is two way and driven by the needs of the employee whose thoughts, feelings, aims and ambitions are captured on computer. This is very empowering and without this technique employees can be left feeling disempowered and like they may never know as much as their mentor.

There is something extremely powerful about mentoring. A person receiving attention from a more senior member of the team feels valued and invested in and the person giving advice also feels valued and flattered by the attention and confirmation of their expertise. In this way mentoring is beneficial for both parties.

This is a different and interesting use of mind mapping – have you used MindGenius for mentoring or empowering your team in some way?

New Save as MS Word video released

Following on from May’s hints and tips, we've received requests for additional information on saving a map as a MS Word document. In response, we have put together a short video which outlines how to structure your map in order to create a properly formatted Word document and how to develop your content, as well as using the configuration options for your actual export to MS Word.
MindGenius initially helps us get the content and the structure right for our Word document without worrying about formatting. Instead we can focus on our ideas and then think about the formatting at the appropriate time. Ultimately a typical Word document will be created from the structure and content of the map which is why you must consider the structure of your map before you export.

Click here to access the video. Please pass onto colleagues who may find it of interest.

MindGenius New Training Options Now Released

MindGenius are pleased to announce that two new Online Training courses will be available from September 2010. The courses will be suitable for both individuals and teams who are new to MindGenius and who want to make sure that they have the fundamentals correct, as well as existing users who want to learn more of the more advanced capabilities of MindGenius.

The training will be performed live and online by a MindGenius expert, the following courses are available;

Course 1: MindGenius Fundamentals
Attendees will develop an understanding of the underlying concepts of MindGenius through to the essential functionality required to ensure you make the most of the application.

Course 2: MindGenius Advanced
The course will focus on more advanced applications of MindGenius such as task management, categories and filtering, project management using the Gantt view, preparing maps for exporting to MS Office applications and more. Each session can be customized to suit you or your team’s requirements.

Each course will last approximately 2 hours and cost;
  • £300 (single attendee)
  • £500 (up to 4 attendees)
MindGenius can also offer onsite training for larger groups or train the trainer sessions, please contact us to book or for additional information.

Using MindGenius for teaching teachers

The University of Strathclyde has a site licence which offers access to MindGenius to all staff and students on University owned computers. Graham Murdoch is a lecturer in technical education at the University. He is responsible for teaching Post Graduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) students how to teach technical subjects in secondary schools.

Graham has been using MindGenius for many years now and finds it assists him with both short and long-term planning, keeping on top of tasks, timetabling, and taking notes for meetings.

For class, he uses MindGenius and mind mapping as part of his system of planning classroom lessons and to encourage his students to expand their knowledge. By using mind mapping or MindGenius for their planning, the students can note down all of the aspects of what needs to be covered. Instead of getting too focused or bogged down in one area, it is easy for them to ensure they have covered all of the relevant, appropriate areas. MindGenius also gives them the ability to visually link ideas and concepts to other ideas and concepts within the map, allowing them to build greater understanding on the relationship between different branches and the overall topic.

Graham often provides a mind map of a lesson that is being taught so that the class may expand on his version of the lesson mind map. The example below, the Principles of Effective Learning and Teaching, is a map that would accompany the notes students receive in their first lecture on the course. Graham has added links to areas that are connected and should be considered. The students use this map as guidance when they are on placements in schools.

Fig. 1 Principles of Effective Learning and Teaching
Please click on image for full screen view

Graham also used MindGenius recently on an in service course he ran which outlined how to use the “Scalextric for schools” challenge for the new Scottish Curriculum for Excellence system. In this map, the green branches are classroom activities that the teachers could consider and expand on, whilst the yellow branches are either connected to the competition or are administrative points.

Fig. 2 "Scalextric for Schools" map
Please click on image for full screen view

Graham said:
“MindGenius has brought clarity to my work and increased the speed at which I can prepare. It has also improved the visual aspect of my work. I encourage my students to use mind maps and MindGenius as much as possible as it is a good way to lay out thinking and allows fast and easy prioritisation of the work to be done.”