Friday, 21 January 2011

Inspiring Success with MindGenius

Product Development Executive
Gael and MindGenius Ltd
Hi there.

Having worked at a senior level in business for over 20 years now, where mapping has featured prominently in helping me to succeed, I am going to be writing a series of articles to share my experiences and knowledge with you and hopefully inspire you to get the most out of MindGenius.

I would also like to encourage you to share your own experiences, and if there are any particular subjects you would like me to consider covering, please get in touch.

As the Product Development Executive, my primary role is to research, analyse, record and communicate how people work in different business sectors and identify the obstacles and challenges that they face so that we can develop appropriate software solutions to sell to them. I also support the senior management team in the delivery of specific improvement initiatives.

I am a doer, not a theorist. I have to deliver tangible results and break new ground. Stepping into the unknown is the exciting part of my job. I use MindGenius on a daily basis as it provides me with a creative, effective and versatile way of working. I couldn’t do my work as effectively without it. If you were to take MindGenius away from me, you would see a grown man cry – not a pretty sight.

Also, I’m not a purist. Although I have been a Buzan Licensed Instructor and have worked with Tony Buzan, I will not be discussing the ‘theory’ of mind mapping. I use what is appropriate for the task and its target audience. MindGenius and mapping support the performance of a task. The task and its outcome is what is important, not the intricacies of the tools/methodologies used.

So I will be sharing with you how I perform tasks using MindGenius. I hope this will give you an insight into how you could use MindGenius to your advantage. It may even inspire you to think of different ways to use MindGenius to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. There will also be an opportunity for you to ‘Ask Gordon’ about any query you may have as a result.

My background is electronic engineering. I started working life designing aircraft radar systems then onto cheque encoding machines for the worldwide banking sector. My career progressed into senior management (development & support). I then worked in a Total Quality Management programme in the nuclear industry before joining Gael and MindGenius 11 years ago. As well as my tasks as Product Development Executive, I have had the opportunity to work in Marketing, Sales, Training and Consultancy as well as being an external University lecturer and a Lead Assessor (10 years) for the Scottish Business Excellence Award (EFQM based)

The nature of the activities that I do are varied, e.g. researching, analysing, presenting findings, writing training material, delivering training, consulting, auditing. I need to be versatile and so do the tools and methodologies that I use. That’s why MindGenius has proven to be such a valuable application. Its use can be adapted to a wide variety of tasks. Also, its ability to stir the creative juices is invaluable. One application, many uses, many benefits. That’s what I hope to share with you.

The ‘mapping’ journey started many years ago when I first came across Tony Buzan’s mindmapping technique. I could see the benefits, but felt it was more suited to memory retention (my personal view) than as a medium for performing business tasks.

My organisation was not ready for me to be seen doodling with coloured pens, and the output was not in a form that would be viewed as suitable for business communications.

So I resorted to drawing ‘spider’ diagrams and basically used them for my own purposes. Another problem was that they were paper based so it was difficult to rearrange them without starting again from scratch. A short term solution I used was to create them using lines and text in MS PowerPoint™. Time consuming, but it still gave me some benefits.

Fig. 1 Hand Drawn Spider Diagrams
Please click on image for full screen view 

Fig. 2 MS PowerPoint™version
Please click on image for full screen view

Back in 2000, at Gael, the Directors wondered what I was doing. However, it got them thinking. To cut a long story short, MindGenius was born and I got my favourite and most productive software application.

So to re-iterate, I will be writing a series of articles to share my knowledge and hopefully give you a bit of inspiration on how you can use MindGenius to help you succeed in business. They will not be step-by-step descriptions of how to use a specific function within MindGenius. The articles will concentrate more on the nature of the task to be performed and how MindGenius can help you perform them. You will also have the opportunity to raise queries about the areas discussed.

I look forward to sharing my MindGenius experiences with you and I hope it will be an interesting learning and sharing experience for you. I certainly expect it will be for me.


PS This article was developed using MindGenius.
Fig. 3 First Article
Please click on image for full screen view

Fig. 4 Article Introduction
Please click on image for full screen view

I was faced with the ’dreaded’ blank canvas. First I mapped out in MindGenius some key areas that I felt needed to be included in the article.

Then I simply let the ideas flow and captured them as they occurred. Each entry entered seemed to generate other ideas/avenues of thought.
MindGenius allowed me to quickly and easily drag and drop these thoughts into appropriate parent/ child relationships. I was also able to drag the branches to form a meaningful flow to the article.

What I ended up with was an article which was different from what I first envisaged (e.g. combine an introduction article, the main deliverable, with a brief description on how it was developed using MindGenius

I think it resulted in a better article. That's the beauty of MindGenius.

Win a £50 Amazon Voucher - Social Media Survey

Keeping in touch with our customers has always been a priority of MindGenius. Whether you prefer to Tweet, “like” things on Facebook, or watch YouTube videos, there is now a MindGenius Channel for you.
Fig. 1 Simon Paterson, Social Media Champion
Managed by Simon Paterson, our new Social Media Champion, we will be announcing all of our latest product news, development updates and special offers and competitions via these channels, as well as connecting you with other MindGenius users. 

Join us now so you don’t miss out on what’s coming up this year.

And to ensure we are giving you what you need on these channels, we are currently running a short survey to find out the type of information you like and need. The survey should take no more than 5 minutes to complete and you could win a £50 (*or Dollar/Euro equivalent) Amazon Voucher. Access the survey here.

You can also get in touch with Simon directly at

MindGenius social media links:

Hints and Tips - Branch Numbering

Numbers can be automatically added to your branches as you build your map. The numbers indicate the branch’s hierarchical position within the overall map. Whether you are creating a document outline structure or a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) for your latest project, automatic numbering can be a useful feature.

The numbering will also be preserved if you are exporting your map to MS Word, MS Excel or MS Project for further development.

To turn numbering on, select Format Ribbon \ Map Settings \ Format Numbering. Numbering can be turned on in the Map Explorer and /or the Map Editor and a Prefix defined if required.
Fig. 2 Map with numbering added

Fig. 1 Format Numbering

The numbers will update automatically as branches are added, deleted or moved.

Red Flag Management

Red flag management is a mindset that encourages major issues & risks to be identified and resolved before they impact the outcome of a project. The objective is to make these issues visible at the earliest opportunity and use that visibility to seek assistance from the wider project team and aim for a proactive resolution.

Communication and awareness is used to resolve
these issues rather than simply managing what is going well, not addressing concerns early and assuming everything will work out fine. 

Potential project red flags
are anything that could affect project milestones, project costs or the quality of the product or service being delivered. These could include resources becoming unavailable, a lack of stakeholder involvement or the rate of progress slowing down.

Fig. 1 Sample Project Map with red flags highlighted
Please click on image for full screen view

During project meetings, question the important milestones and activities
. Ask why the next milestone might not be met or what could affect a project deliverable, any areas of concern should be visually identified. Use a red flag symbol or use branch fill colors to highlight them. The severity of the issue could also be visually identified using shades of red or the size of flag.

Try also to visually represent whether your red flag is a growing, stable or receding concern. The arrows in the picture gallery can be used for this.

Once this mindset becomes an identified trait of the project meeting it becomes natural to think about and identify red flags thus reducing the risk in your projects.

The principles of red flag management can be applied to other areas of your business. Apply it to the management of a sales pipeline, ask is there any reason that a particular sale might not happen? You might find that the IT approval process may not be complete yet, the budget might not have been identified.

the map for a summary of this article and information on other areas where red flag management could be applied.