Friday, 13 December 2013

Looking Back and Forward Looking

It’s that time of year again (although no doubt most of you have been there already) – looking back on 2013: what worked well, the successes, what didn't go so well and what and how things could be improved on for 2014. Also, of course, forward planning for our strategic, operational and individual objectives for 2014. 

Most organisations and businesses are certainly looking forward and planning at all levels with the key aim and purpose of building on the successes of the past 12 months (even leveraging off aspects that may have presented difficulties and challenges) and looking to improve aims, objectives, performance, results, etc, in innovative and challenging ways. 

Of course many of our MindGenius users are already benefiting from the unique plethora of functionality and productivity-enhancing applications that MindGenius offers, not least in the review and forward-planning areas. 

As we approach year-end and plan towards the start of a new year, I want to to share some insights and tips on the range of use and applications that MindGenius provides, particularly in providing clarity and focus on the critical processes of Review and Planning. 

To do this, I've decided to look at each of the two critical aspects separately, list a few pointers on the application of MindGenius in each and then I have added an example map showing the main issues covered within a Strategic Review, covering both the Review and Planning stages… 

REVIEW: The Oxford Dictionaries definition of “Review” is: “ a formal assessment of something with the intention of instituting change if necessary”

PLAN: The Oxford Dictionaries definition of “Plan” is: “a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something”. 

Below is an example map showing an outline of a process for reviewing past performance around key aspects and criteria and then, in addition, including the forward-planning aspects as well…. 

Useful functionality within MindGenius and pointers for REVIEW are: 

  • ease of mapping a structure or template for any type of Review or Plan (together or separately), including the quick and intuitive “type and return” functionality of capturing all the input, data, facts, knowledge, etc. 
  • the ability to add context and meaning, clarity and focus to the whole exercise, or to individual parts, through easily and quickly building structure and hierarchy 
  • use of Map Explorer to navigate the map, focus on any part of the content to ensure comprehensive capture of information and/or aid in clarity and understanding of each topic 
  • the fact that documents, spreadsheets, other maps, websites (URLs), etc., can be attached to any branch, providing that easy access to, and retrieval of, related information and data 
  • using the Notes Editor area to add useful information and data, provide further necessary information or explanation and/or to reduce ambiguity (copying and pasting in from external sources if required) 
  • many and considerable benefits of visualisation through the mapping process and technique – reinforcing the topics, data and facts, as well as being focussed, engaging and collaborative 
  • use of Categories providing the ability to rank, rate or simply add a value or categorisation to any aspect (branch) of a map – with associated viewing and dynamic filtering capability to query, gain a particular view or perspective of your categorised information 
  • comprehensive export functionality to output maps into common MS Office formats (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, Project, etc) – great for pre-planning and pre-writing, for example, documents and reports, saving time and effort in document authoring

Useful functionality within MindGenius and pointers for PLANNING are: 

  • recognising and utilising the power and capability of MindGenius at the Review stage (above) to ensure a thorough understanding of the “current situation” before moving too quickly to solutions or action plans 
  • using MindGenius mapping to engage everyone in the “what do we need to do” and “where do we need to be” types of conversations – engaging, inclusive and collaborative 
  • each team and each individual mapping out their strategic, operational and individual objectives – aiming for that all important alignment and shared vision and direction 
  • using the Task Management capabilities to map out the “What”, “Who” and “When” to provide visibility, focus and clarity of tasks and actions required to deliver aims and objectives going forward 
  • the ability to quickly and effectively apply resources and timescales to a mapped action plan or mapped objectives 
  • effectively monitor and manage tasks and actions – from the basic but impactful visualisation of the maps and / or the functionality of synchronisation with MS Outlook, through to filtering capability on data such as resources, due dates, completion dates, progress status, priority, etc 
  • using MindGenius’ intuitive and highly visual mapping to engage stakeholders and all relevant resources to scope and plan Projects (e.g. WBS, etc) required to deliver the crucial business objectives 
  • utilise the integrated Gantt View to schedule the projects, including resources, timelines, interdependencies, constraints, etc, and then use a comprehensive range of functionality to monitor and control all tasks, activities and stages through to timely and effective conclusion 
  • letting the power and capability of the Project Report output within the Gantt view to provide both high-level and detailed information on each and every aspect of progress of all stages, tasks and activities throughout the Project 

The key themes and benefits accrued from the effective utilisation of MindGenius are implicit in all of the above, but proper adoption and use provide, at its basic level, visualisation focus and clarity. These are further enhanced and augmented by the overall time-saving and productivity benefits gained from working smarter with engagement, collaboration and visibility at every stage from “thinking things through” to “getting the right things done.”

Remember also, MindGenius Ltd provide an extensive range of tailored training and consultancy solutions for individuals and teams. If you need to gain a better understanding of how MindGenius can improve your current processes for Review and Planning, simply contact your Account Manager or email and we can discuss your options. 

Finally I would just like to personally wish all Newsletter readers and MindGenius users all the very best as we end one year and look forward to a new one, we look forward to working and collaborating with you all in 2014.

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.

Management Consultant Uses MindGenius to Design Intelligent Business Software

Niall Strickland has been using MindGenius for more than 15 years and it consistently forms part of his toolkit for helping medium and small companies to improve their business performance. Not content with successfully using MindGenius within his business to deliver value to his clients, Niall continues to push out the boundaries in relation to how he can create value from MindGenius. 

About 18 months ago, Niall effectively used MindGenius to design new and highly innovative expert system software, which can be used by businesses to carry out a detailed health check on their business. 

Niall says “MindGenius was not only the catalyst for capturing the core idea behind the software design, but was also the tool used for creating the functional and technical specifications for the software”. Instead of providing the software development team in Germany with long text documents, Niall instead provided it with structured MindMaps that captured the very essence of what he was trying to create. “This worked exceptionally well,” according to Niall. “It not only set out the business case for the software product, identified its target market and delivery channels, but also gave the development team all it needed in order to create this state of the art business software product.” A collapsed version of his initial software design MindMap is shown below. 

Niall's initial software design map 

Niall believes that there are simply no limits to the application of MindGenius within both business and the education sector and he actively encourages his extended network to adopt it as the mind-mapping tool of choice. 

Niall has put together a video on how he and Tammy use MindGenius and "The Many Benefits of Using MindGenius MindMapping in Your Business." View the video here.

Screenshot of "How'sMyBusinessDoing"

“HowsMyBusinessDoing?”, does a detailed analysis of any business across 28 key measurement areas and automatically generates a 50+ page report which helps the business owners or managers to identify and focus on key areas of their business requiring attention. Business owners simply need to complete a confidential online survey about their business, which takes about 90 minutes, and the intelligent software engine automatically provides detailed feedback on what is working in the business and what is not. 

“HowsMyBusinessDoing effectively replaces the need to employ a management consultant to assess how your business is performing and all for less than $500,” according to Niall Strickland. "From a value standpoint, it is a tiny investment for a huge return." 

For more information on “How’sMyBusinessDoing?” click here, or here

Niall has also introduced MindGenius to his teenage daughter, Tammy, who has used it to generate tens of thousands of Euro from selling her MindMaps to secondary school students in Ireland