Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Information Journey

Knowledge, Experience and Creativity – we all possess and use these attributes daily, usually without even overtly thinking about them. 

With tasks, problem solving, decision-making, planning, objective-setting, day-in, day-out we continue to apply and utilise our knowledge, experience and creativity to execute our roles and responsibilities.

At MindGenius we call that utilisation “The Information Journey” – the process of applying our individual or collective knowledge, experience and creativity to a task or challenge in order to take us from where we are now to where we need to be – all in the most productive and efficient manner possible.

One of the informal ways we describe this “Information Journey” is… “from thinking to doing”.

MindGenius Information Journey
Click on images for Full Screen View

I want to share some insights of what we see as the component parts of this “Information Journey” and examine how each phase or step in that journey enable us not only to utilise that inherent knowledge, experience and creativity that resides in all of us, but also look at how they enable and increase productivity and efficiency in the process.

Stage 1 - Capture 

The first kick-off stage where as individuals or in a group we are faced with a task, challenge, problem, plan, project, etc., and we need to think it through.
All our knowledge, ideas, information, and creativity is captured / mapped. This may be in a random, unstructured way (e.g. brainstorm) or a more structured approach could be adopted.


MindGenius enhances the thinking process and ensures this initial capture stage is engaging, inclusive and creative. Its easy and intuitive interface enables easy and quick capture of all ideas, knowledge and information and the visualisation effect helps increase understanding of complex topics and ideas.
Stage 2 - Analyse 

This stage builds on the mapping and visualisation of the information. Before moving on to “solution mode” we need to consider the information and aim to gain a better understanding of the knowledge, information, data, etc., captured.

At this stage we’re looking to make sense of the information, relationships, common themes, priorities and “pathways” through to decisions and outcomes.

MindGenius provides that ease of creating structures and relationships with simple navigation and the ability to easily move branches, providing structure and order.

Users can sort, group and filter on mapped information, providing a solid platform for prioritisation and informed decision-making.

Once again, the dynamics of visualisation enhances this part of the process.

Stage 3 - Decide

This stage is where we should now be in a position of knowing the facts, the data, the pros and cons, the details, and so on, surrounding the issue, task, etc. 


This stage flows naturally and seamlessly from the last in that “the way ahead” starts coming into view and should be clearer.

This is where we use the mapped information, knowledge and data to arrive at well-informed, fact-based priorities and decisions. We have a strong platform and solid base from which to move to the practicalities of our strategy, our plan of attack, our way forward. 

The way in which we apply MindGenius has kept the whole exercise together and provided the clarity and focus for decision-making, whilst retaining visibility and the necessary momentum throughout the whole process.


Once again, we cannot underestimate the visual aspect enabling not only clarity and focus but all-important consensus and agreement within the whole dynamics of the process.

Stage 4 - Act 

At this stage, everything should be lining up to move us to the critical output stage. All that knowledge, ideas and information is going to be effectively utilised.

Whatever it is we set out to plan and execute is now ready to be actioned, whether that was a set of actions from a meeting, a plan, a written report or document, a project plan, etc., we are now ready to “Go Do!”.

Conclusion
As a stand-alone process, the “Information Journey” that takes us from “thinking to doing” through Capture, Analyse, Decide and Act! is a logical, enabling, action-centred approach to tackle problems, tasks, objectives, issues, challenges, plans, strategies, projects, etc., through from initial thoughts to action and completion – all in a more productive and efficient way.

Clarity, visibility and focus are brought to the fore, ensuring we’re doing the right things and doing things right.

The MindGenius functionality and underpinning approaches and methodologies augment this process and further increase overall productivity and efficiency – a real enabling “way of working”.

Think how often you and your team go on an “Information Journey” each day, each week…. Are you getting the best out of MindGenius for maximum execution?

Download the Information Journey Map used above. 

MindGenius Ltd provide an extensive range of tailored training and consultancy solutions for individuals and teams. If you need to improve the way tasks or projects are planned, executed and managed the MindGenius way, contact your Account Manager or email info@mindgenius.com – we’d be happy to discuss your options.



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.

Local support now available in Australia and New Zealand

To help better support our customers in Australia and New Zealand, MindGenius mind mapping software are expanding their presence with the help of a new local team and the team have just announced a new Introduction to MindGenius webinar on 30th October at 11am AEST. 

The experienced team, under the command of Colin Cooper, have also launched a new website at www.mindgenius.com.au and are now offering local support, including live chat. 

Colin Cooper, CEO Australia and New Zealand Division, MindGenius Australia and New Zealand said: 

We are delighted to now be offering a dedicated local support team to all MindGenius users, where we will be able to assist you with mind mapping, project planning and business development. Our support team is here if you have any questions or need assistance. As part of our new services we will be offering dedicated webinars and training sessions to help enhance your MindGenius experience, myself and the team really look forward to working with you.” 

Derek Jack, Director, MindGenius said: “We have a growing user base in Australia and New Zealand and are pleased to now have the ability to offer localized help and support and work more effectively with our customers in the region.” 

Sign up for the next webinar now.

Project Manager Today Review MindGenius 5

"A software application specifically developed to overcome business issues using mind mapping principles," is how Steve Cotterell at Project Manager Today describes MindGenius 5. 

Steve has produced a thorough review of the latest edition of MindGenius mind mapping software, focusing on how MindGenius is “more of a brainstorming and planning tool than a simple mind mapper.” 

He found the new Project Report function particularly impressive: "This comprehensive report is beautifully simple to prepare. It shows the overall complete percentage and then details section by section; milestone, phase and task progress information with a RAG status and comments where entered." 

The review is relevant for everyone who uses MindGenius for tasks and projects, not just people who have “Project Manager” as their job title as Steve walks through the functionality in MindGenius that helps with managing tasks and projects. 

To read the full review, click here, or pick up the October edition of Project Manager Today.

MindGenius Resource Centric Map

10, 2, 6...

First, let me state that we are new parents. Not really "new" parents, but rather parents of a newborn son.  My wife and I have lots of children and have been parents for many years, but that newborn schedule always takes some (read…lots!) getting used to no matter how many times you've been through it.  You go through the very early phase of letting the baby dictate the schedule.  Basically…it’s, “Feed me every two hours or else!”  Then, eventually you – as the very sleep deprived parent – try to gain control by attempting to force a feeding schedule as this new little addition starts to eat more and more.  That’s where we are right now – working on that 10, 2, 6 schedule.  Meaning a feeding every four hours with a schedule of 10am, 2pm, 6pm, 10pm, 2am, 6am, 10am….etc.  10-2-6.  That way, eventually (hopefully!) they’ll give up that 2am feeding and you’ll get to sort of sleep through the night.  Eventually.


The early schedule develops

So, where the heck am I going with this discussion of my current ‘new parent’ experiences?  Well, I liken this to our early project schedule.  We begin with a draft schedule of some sort – and that may just be a series of key dates emailed to us from the project sponsor or some account manager who closed the deal.  Or it may be an actual draft schedule that someone – not a project manager and not you for certain – put together based on what they think they know about the project.  Or better yet, it’s a collection of relevant tasks, milestones, deliverables that you have managed to put together with the help of other key resources – possibly your project team if they are fully assembled at this point – through the use a good organizing/planning tool like mind mapping software.  It may be rough, and it certainly isn’t going to be detailed enough to be really usable and it won’t have you sleeping through the night (you’ll be in the same boat as me with my now 7 week old infant son).  But it’s a start – something to work from.

Building out the detail

Next, we work from the statement of work (SOW)…assuming one exists…and identify the true key dates, deliverables and milestones because all of those have to be in that project schedule.  The next step – for me, at least – is always to reach in to my private stash of good, successful project templates and find one that is closest to the type of project and tasks that I’m about to manage.  Starting from scratch is fine, but if you can find a good template that’s worked for you in the past, then you’re less likely to let some key step or task or review or signoff step fall through the cracks.  You need it all in the schedule.  The more detail the better – although there is such a thing as going overboard.  I once had a schedule with 9,354 tasks for a huge government project I was managing.  I’m not sure it was overboard…it was a very large project…but I finally got smart and assigned various portions of it to the proper functional area managers on the project and relied on them to do their own updates before having my staff pull it all together for the weekly project client call.  It kept me – and my staff - from going insane.

Summary

The key is to go from chaos to organization.  Get from allowing the baby to manage your schedule to you managing the baby’s schedule.  It’s ok to not have all the detail at the very beginning.  Or to have it all accurate with every task correct and in the right place.  Do your best, but expect it to change.  As the engagement progresses you’ll build more detail into the schedule, if necessary, and some tasks or even phases may have to be rearranged.  Be prepared to be flexible, but do manage the project schedule closely because it still needs to be detailed enough to drive the management of the progress of the project.

Brad Egeland is an IT veteran of 27 years having worked as an application developer, manager, project & program manager, consultant and business strategist and is the author of BradEgeland.com