Friday, 27 May 2011

MindGenius 4 Now Released

MindGenius Ltd has now released Version 4 of its popular mind mapping software, MindGenius.

MindGenius 4 boasts new ways to brainstorm and present ideas and information, and adds improved analysis, task and project management capabilities that let users develop and deliver more innovative solutions and projects than ever before.

Brainstorming mode
The new brainstorming mode offers maximised space to view information in a new unstructured layout and makes full use of the unique MindGenius Question sets and categorization features. Users can move from brainstorming to action quickly using automatically created category or question centric maps on exit from the brainstorm.

The new presentation mode extends the power of visual communication to presentations with the ability to easily convert maps into slides and deliver fully formatted presentations directly from MindGenius. Users can deliver interactive presentations where information can be captured live onto the slides during the slide show.

There is also a range of enhancements to the existing analysis, task and project management features of MindGenius, including visual categorisation, improved filtering and new Gantt chart link and constraint types.

Derek Jack, Director of MindGenius, believes that this latest release will further strengthen MindGenius's reputation as the Mind Mapping tool that helps users deliver business processes:

This new release was developed to capitalise on the existing strengths of Version 3, as well as take the brainstorming, presentation and task and project management capability to the next level. As with all MindGenius releases, every feature and piece of functionality was added to support a specific business process and have been tried and tested in a real business environment.”

Stuart Orr, Managing Director of EALA Comms Industry, Accenture, believes: “Since I started using MindGenius it has enabled me and my international teams of managers to greatly improve our collaboration and productivity. Through utilising MindGenius for brainstorming we are able to rapidly assemble key topics, sort the data and immediately assign priorities and actions. In addition, now being able to present ideas directly from MindGenius means our presentations can be interactive, and more visual. MindGenius is a key tool in our application suite to help give us competitive edge.”

Find out more about new features and functionality, and download a 30-day free trial at,  or view a short video on what’s new in version 4 at  

Objective Setting with Gordon Wyllie

If you go onto the internet you will find masses of information relating to personal objective setting. Much of it relates to using the SMART objective setting methodology.

This is a simple approach to setting objectives and can be very effective. Yet many people still fail to achieve the personal goals that they set. Why is that?

It's not a problem with the SMART approach in itself. It's more a failure of people to understand one of the fundamentals associated with personal objective setting. You have to be totally committed to achieving it.

Your personal objective must reflect your desires, aspirations, beliefs or vision if you are going to be totally committed to it. In other words it must have a fit with your goals in life. If it doesn’t you will not be committed to it. And without commitment, failure soon comes a’knocking.

When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. Obstacles and barriers are things to go through, around, over or under. Where there is a will there is a way. That will comes from commitment. If you share your personal objectives and communicate progress with people who matter to you this can also aid motivation and commitment. The fear of public failure can produce positive results.

Personal objectives and goals are not the same. Personal objectives are milestones on a route to achieving your goals.

I will try and illustrate my points with a personal example. I am into hill walking and having completed the Munros (284 Scottish mountains over 3000ft), I was left with the question - what next? There is something in my psyche which drives me to go out into the mountains. I don’t know whether it is the challenge, the release from the strains of modern life, the companionship or the beers afterwards. Whatever the combination of factors, it’s what I love to do.

So when a six of my walking buddies suggested we do the GR20 trek in Corsica, I was up for it. The fact that I had never done a long distance trek before and the GR20’S reputation of being the toughest waymarked trail in Europe didn’t put me off (too much) because it fitted with my goals.

So my personal object became to walk the GR20.

The GR20 requires to be backpacked its entire length with some scrambling in places as some of the more dangerous parts of the route have chains and ladders, such as the infamous Cirque de la Solitude. We would have to stay in high, remote, mountain refuges and also be prepared to camp out if there was no room available.. We would essentially be away from civilisation for up to 5 days so we had to carry everything we needed to survive on our backs. Which meant that we had to be able to carry heavy rucksacks for up to 12 hours a day for 15 days, over rough mountainous terrain.

Unfortunately I injured my knee whilst preparing for the trek and, to cut a long story short, I had to have an operation on my knee. This severely reduced my physical preparation time. The easiest thing would have been to cancel the trip and let the other go. But that would mean missing a once in a lifetime opportunity to go with my friends.

This is where my point about commitment comes in. I was now faced with a significant obstacle. I had to let my knee recuperate. If I tried to exercise it, either too hard, or too early, then I would be likely to damage it and scupper the trip. So what was an alternative strategy? Well I have never been the thinnest of people. I could walk for hours with my normal rucksack so if I could lose weight equivalent to or more than the difference between my normal rucksack and the trekking one that I would take, then I should manage.

So I went on a diet. Never really been able to diet in the past – love my food too much. But now there was a driving reason. I actually managed to lose 2.5 stone. That’s the benefit commitment brings. Needless to say after the GR20 the weight slowly came back on. The commitment was no longer there and my love of food came once more to the fore.

Another fundamental of realising your personal goals is to adopt strategies that make the activities interesting and for there to be a constant drip feed of achievement and benefit as you go in order to maintain your motivation.

I hate doing gym work. I find it boring and I often overdo it - which was probably what accelerated the knee injury. However I do like cycling and that is what I did to help recuperate from the knee operation and to build up my stamina. The pluses for me were that it took me outdoors and down country lanes and trails around where I live that I had never been before. It’s amazing what is on your doorstep that you don’t know about. The trip computer on the bike also spiced things up. Can I go a bit further today? What was my previous best time for this route and can I beat it? All little things but it added interest and zest to the activity of getting me fit again.

Another challenge that I enjoyed was the task of reducing the weight of my trekking rucksack to a minimum whilst including all of the essentials. It proved to be a thought provoking and interesting task. In our lifestyles we take so much for granted as everything we need to survive is to hand. We just pick it up when we need it. But what happens when you have to live off of what you carry on your back? Well that’s quite an eye opener. Foe example,you’d be surprised how heavy water is. Try carrying all the water you would use in a day, if you can!

I started by creating a checklist of what I felt I would need.

Then I weighted them all individually and totalled up the weight, Shock. Horror.

I used some simple strategies to reduce the list such as the rule of three for clothes. One for wearing, one washed from the previous night and possibly still wet, and one dry for changing into at the end of the day. Another strategy was to include items that could be used for more than one purpose. Then I classified them as essentials and nice to haves.

Still too heavy. So it was it was down to refinement. Plastic spoon lighter than a metal one? Cut off half the stem of the toothbrush? Do I really need to allocate 3 sheets of toilet paper/day?

Still too heavy.

Was there any assumptions that we could reasonably make that would help reduce the weight by altering essentials to nice to haves?

So here’s a couple we made. Removing ice axe and crampons etc made a big difference.

So did taking dehydrated food. Probably wouldn’t taste very nice but it was light and may not have to be used.

Ultimately I got the fully loaded rucksack down to 16Kg including water for the day. Still heavy but manageable. I was just going to have to be extra careful on the scrambling sections.

The good news is that I achieved my personal objective. However not everything went quite as planned.

When we arrived in Corsica in the north, we discovered that had been late falls of snow and that you could not proceed for more than 2 days before you needed ice axes and crampons. One big assumption we had made turned out to be false.

So we changed tactics, hired two cars and drove to the south of Corsica in order to start from the southern end of the GR20 in the hope that the snow in the problems areas would melt sufficiently in the eleven days that it would take for us to reach the Cirque de la Solitude.

A gamble but fortunately this approach worked, and we got through the treacherous Cirque de Solitude unscathed.

We completed the GR20 and had the trip of a lifetime.

Objective achieved!

So if you can identify personal objectives that are aligned to the goals that you are committed to achieving, then the likelihood of you achieving them will significantly increase. There is something in it for you, something that you desire. It will be a must have, not a nice to have and you can see the benefits in your minds eye. You want them. You are passionate about achieving them.
And finally, remember to adopt strategies to achieve the objectives which contain as many activities that provide interest and benefit to you as you progress

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. I certainly enjoyed writing it as it brought back some fond memories. I wish you all the best in setting and achieving your personal objectives. Remember to include lots of commitment and interest.

Again, any queries or comments, Ask Gordon

Hints and Tips - Mental Connections

Perhaps a strange name for a feature but mental connections are useful to visually demonstrate links between ideas. Let’s take a look at how and when to use them.

To apply a Mental Connection between two branches;

  • Ensure the Insert tab is selected
  • Select the Mental Connection tool from the General group
  • Click on the first (primary) branch to which the Mental Connection will link and hold the mouse button down
  • Drag the cursor to the second (secondary) branch to which the Mental Connection will link and release the mouse button
  • When prompted, enter a title for the Mental Connection and click OK

 Mental Connections should be used to illustrate logical links between information on the map. The connector styles can be altered to show a direction (using arrows) if required. To change this, go to the Format Ribbon and select “Connector Style” and choose your required style.

Here are some examples of where you would use them.

As a problem solving aid, identifying related pieces of information:

Resistor Failure Problem Solving using 6M's
Mapping relationships between people when building teams:

Myers Briggs Exercise
Helping to develop understanding of a subject for revision purposes:

English Revision Notes
Do you use Mental Connections and can you beat this example below? The map was created to illustrate an Account Management process and is affectionately known as the ‘Atom’.
Account Management Process

MindGenius and the Consensus Workshop Method

Steve Rothwell is the creator of the Peace of Mind Blog which discusses practical applications of mind mapping, idea mapping and visual mapping. This week he looked at how to apply MindGenius to the Consensus Workshop Method:

One of the unique features of MindGenius mind mapping software is it's ability to analyse ideas according to categories and to restructure maps or views of those ideas automatically. This feature is a great way of implementing the consensus workshop method electronically.

The five steps of the consensus workshop (as developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs) method are:

1. Set the context - introduce the focus question
2. Brainstorm the ideas
3. Cluster the ideas
4. Name the idea clusters
5. Review and action

Using MindGenius, the focus question becomes the central topic or idea.

The ideas are brainstormed, collected and consolidated as they are added to the map.

The ideas are clustered using categories feature, available from the "Analyze" tab - you can use a default set provided or create your own category group.

From here, create a new map with the ideas clustered by selecting the "Create Category Map".

Using this new map as a basis you can work to name the clusters. Add the names by editing the level one topics.

As an alternative, once the cluster names are agreed, return to the original map - the one with the brainstormed ideas. From the "Analyze" tab, now select "Edit Categories". Amend the categories used in your map, replacing the original identifiers with the cluster names. Once completed, select "Create Category Map" and this time the resulting cluster map contains the cluster names in the level one topics.

You could now go on to assign dates and resources to the ideas, creating a simple action plan.

As part of the documentation step, you can export the map to Excel or Word to provide an additional record of the workshop or to provide the basis for further definition.

Download a free 30 day trial of MindGenius or access Steve’s blog at

Mind Mapping Tips for Studying with Tammy Strickland

Last year we covered how Tammy Strickland, a 16 year old student, had achieved great results in her exams as a result of mind mapping with MindGenius and had been so inspired she had set up her own business selling study mind maps,

Since then Tammy has seen her business grow and has expanded her range to cover 10 subjects. Since we are in the middle of the exam period, Tammy has shared with us her top tips for studying, available to download in map format at the end of at the article and why mind mapping can help focus students on their final material.

Tammy said:Mindmaps might be considered to be shorthand for all the material covered in the text books and in class. They are a pretty good summary of all you need to know to get excellent exam results. They are visual in nature and therefore are easy to remember and recall for the vast majority of students. They focus on key material you need to know and act as a prompt for further information you will have learned in class or at home.

I also find mind mapping can particularly help with revision for English where I used MindMapping to revise the larger areas of the course like poetry and character analysis in the studied texts. With regard to poetry, my main study was constructing a Mindmap which displayed all of the poets my class had covered and connecting them to different themes and techniques. I also wrote the most important lines in the poetry out on small flashcards– as quoting to support an answer is vital. When it came to the novel and studied drama I wrote out shorthand summaries of every character and scene of conflict in both works and then applied them to a Mindmap. Again using flashcards I made sure to note the most important quotes which I would have to remember and reference in the exam.

In other areas like functional writing and media studies, it was a matter of again placing all of the formats and language tones that I had previously learned and putting them into categories in a Mindmap. For example, when I was revising the different forms of letter-writing within functional writing, I constructed a ‘Letters’ Mindmap. Each branch contained shorthand notes about the different types of letters and the vital parts of their structure and language. Every branch about layout was made up of a fixed number of points – that way I knew when I was in my exam that there was a fixed number of layout features I needed to include to get the marks.

Formal Letters section of Functional Writing Revision Map

The issue with English is that it is almost impossible to study for, as many of the answers you will have to write are about interpretation. I therefore believe that it is vital for students to have a glance back at previously attempted questions and see where they went wrong and where they succeeded.

For other subjects, I often rewrite my course notes into map format, for my Irish exam for example, I made sure to revise grammar for the Written paper by writing out all the rules of verbs on a Mindmap. For my studied poetry and stories, I again constructed a large mindmap, linking themes to writers and highlighting the phrasing I needed to earn more marks. I wrote quotes on flashcards and revised them regularly as well as browsing through previous questions and learning from mistakes.

If you have left it too late to start MindMapping you can always access the ones I have created online. There are free samples in 10 different subjects so that you can check if they work for you. I’ve also put together my top tips in map format, that you can download here.