Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mind Maps in Action: Youth Business Start-Up

In this instalment of our Mind Maps in Action series, we talk to Darran Gillan about his work with Tollcross YMCA and how mind mapping helped their young people start their own T-Shirt business.

Can you tell us who you are, what your role is, and a little bit about Tollcross YMCA in general?

My name is Darran Gillan and I am the Youth and Community Development Manager for Tollcross YMCA. My job is to plan and deliver all youth and community activities in Glasgow’s east end and maximize young people’s participation by encouraging and assisting them to become involved in YMCA opportunities. My work focuses on building positive relationships with young people and with other youth work partners involved in the organisation, supporting the board of management by developing the vision and strategic plan to guide Tollcross YMCA.
Tollcross YMCA was founded in 1870 and has provided recreational facilities within a safe environment that promotes educational and social activities for the people of Tollcross and Glasgow’s east end. The purpose of the organisation is to promote citizenship and develop community spirit by encouraging people to consider their environment and develop activities that support and advance people to reach their full potential. We are a small organisation comprised of twelve local volunteers that make up our board of management with six part time youth workers and one community manager.

2. Can you tell us about the Youth Social Enterprise Club?
The A.S.P.I.R.E programme, which is our social enterprise programme, delivers a series of interactive workshops, training and qualification based activity directly to young people aged 10-18 to help them identify and develop community projects based on social issues that negatively affect their community.
A.S.P.I.R.E work with young people who are disengaged in education, who have been through the care system or long term unemployed. We recognised that their inactivity has diminished their self-belief and aspirations and as a result participants comfort zones have been stretched which helped them to rediscover who they are and who they can be. What’s special about A.S.P.I.R.E is that its entirely youth lead with minimal involvement from adult youth work intervention. The central message of the programme is that volunteering helps you gain practical experience and related qualifications towards your goals.
The mind map we spotted on Twitter was fantastic, can you explain how that map came about?
Tollcross Tee's is a small order T-shirt design and printing company run by young people from Tollcross YMCA's A.S.P.I.R.E. programme. The idea behind Tollcross Tee’s was identified by young people looking for a gap in their local market, to allow them to make some money for themselves. The young people identified that there are many local and community businesses in Glasgow, looking to promote themselves and their events, but on a tight budget. Or it might be that you’re looking for a novelty gift for a friend or loved one but don't want to spend too much? Then Tollcross Tee's could meet that need and hence the idea took root and now we have a specialised small run orders company that can print one off bespoke design T-shirts up to an order of twenty T-shirts at a comparative rate.
How the mind map that was featured on twitter came about was that at the early stages, when the group were seeking funding for this idea, the grant applications asked lots of difficult questions. The young people involved were all creative types but not business types. So we used a creative process that feels natural to them to answer such questions like, who is your audience demographic? What were the potential threats and solutions to your business? By the end of the session most, if not all the questions within the grant application were all answered by way of mind mapping.

Who introduced the idea of mind mapping for this task? What was their previous experience of mind maps?
I had used mind maps when I was at university and understood that linear thinking can be limiting and that when your trying to develop a business things are all over the place and rarely fall into place neatly. For me as a youth worker the mind map was a great tool for them to use as a number of them could not spell and others where hindered by communication barriers so trying to mind map the questions out was a far effective task than simple brain storming on a piece of flip chart.
The young people involved in the process have never mind mapped before and found it a freeing experience although a bit puzzling to start with as they could not identify how pictures, key words and branches would answer the questions or develop solutions. After the process was complete many related the experience to being an artist painting a picture. They did not realise what they had created until they took a step back and saw that the group had answered many of the difficult questions posed in the grant forms once they looked at the whole picture or in this case the mind map that they had created.

Did the team find mind mapping helpful for this process, and if so, why/how do you think it helped?
The mind map helped the young people with information such as price setting, what method to best place your order? T-shirt size, color, quantity, image file type and date of delivery required minimum or maximum?

The collaborative and picture method of mind mapping was fun, which is very important in youth work. This was learning with out knowing that you were learning. This helped the process along much more than all staring a blank page.  Their was a deep discussion of what T-shirt sizes should come in small, medium or large what choice of colors in red, blue, black and white etc.

Mind mapping these issues out created a more focused discussion as within the mind map it was not in isolation, but taking into consideration how one decision in one area can affect other areas of your business. This was visually displayed within the mind map and helped inform the decision making process of the group.

Mind mapping helped resolve the stale mate that developed and from then on such questions where made visual, bright and communicated to their imagination where words, tone and gestures failed. 

Also there was much more of an even spread of contribution of ideas as all participated simultaneously, then amended and tweaked each other's suggestions on the board. This would not have been so effective if we chose a more traditional route to problem solve as within every group there is a mix of strong and weak personalities and mind mapping helped the dynamic of the group to all play on an even surface of collaboration with out some members of the group feeling intimidated by dominant members. So again, in terms of youth work practice, this was inclusive.

What outcomes has the mind mapping process helped to identify, and what's happening now with the project?
The young people have now developed their own Tollcross Tee’s website tollcrosstees.jimdo.com. This fulfils some of the promotion and marketing ideas that came out of the mind map. They have also developed a mind map of their business plan so as to keep it relevant as opposed to keeping it stuck on a shelf. This map takes pride of place within the middle of the office as a visual reminder of the content of the business plan.

The webpage’s were all taken from individual mind maps that were then collectively put together as a collage. To the average person it looks like a mad man’s crazy ideas, but it is like a secret code that only those in Tollcross Tee’s can understand and decipher and that makes it cool!

Is there anything else you'd like to include/promote to help Tollcross YMCA?

Tollcross YMCA has been named as a finalist in the 2014 Scottish Charity Awards under the Celebrating Communities Category. The Awards, celebrate the crucial work of charities, community groups and individuals dedicated to making Scotland a better place to live.  Tollcross YMCA has been nominated for its deliver of the A.S.P.I.R.E. social enterprise programme within the Tollcross community.
To find out more about Tollcross YMCA and the youth and community activity that we deliver in Glasgow’s east end then visit www.tollcrossymca.org follow us on Twitter @TollcrossYMCA or like us on www.facebook.com/ymcatollcross
Thank you to Darran for participating in our 'Mind Maps in Action' series and sharing his story with us! You can find Darran on Biggerplate by clicking here. If you've had a mind map experience you would like to share with us, get in touch via Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Announcing Biggerplate Image Packs!!

Ever wanted to liven up your mind maps with a more interesting selection of images? Well now you can!
We're thrilled to announce the launch of Biggerplate Image Packs; a selection of fantastic image sets that can be imported into your favourite mind mapping software and used to add more visual interest to your maps!
You can choose from a selection of packs, covering People, Money & Finance, Web & Social, as well as Signs & Signals! We'll be adding new packs all the time, so keep an eye on the new section of the website for new packs, competitions, and freebies!

How does it work?
It's easy, once you download an image pack, you can then import the 20 individual images into your favourite mind mapping software to be used whenever you need as you are mapping! We'll shortly publish a set of 'How-to' guides for this to help you, but in the meantime, if you have any questions, just let us know!

> View Image Packs!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mind Mapping in Education, by Biggerplate Intern, Pete Tillotson

I’m Pete Tillotson; a sixteen year-old from Kent who’s taking part in work experience with Biggerplate in London. My task over the next week is to help Biggerplate understand and explore the prospect of mind mapping in schools and universities, an area in which I think the community would thrive.

I’ll be honest, mind maps were never my speciality. I used to think that they were only good for making things look unnecessarily attractive on a page and weren’t useful for much else. However, within just a day of using a piece of software I discovered how beneficial mind maps can be, not only in business environments but also in educational ones. It’s a universal skill that can apply to almost any working situation, not least in schools and universities. This is where my efforts have been and will be focussed for the week while I’m working with Biggerplate, hopefully to good effect.

There is a massive opportunity, in the form of education, for mind mapping as a community to expand into, which has yet to be fully explored. Having just finished my GCSEs, it is clear to me how much of a difference mapping would make to students and teachers alike in schools worldwide. Personal organisation, for
example, becomes an increasingly large responsibility as a student progresses through the education system. However, this task can become overwhelming, as I witnessed during my exams with some friends and classmates struggling under the pressure. GCSEs are, in terms of knowledge, shallow and broad. Therefore, organisation is paramount as you try and cram for eleven or so subjects at the end of a two year course. Something as simple as mind mapping can help to collate this vast collection of knowledge and convert it into easily digestible chunks. Memory is dramatically improved too as maps can be tailored to each individual’s preferences in terms of presentation and content. If mind mapping were available to my school as a recognised system, as a student, I believe it would have made a huge difference to my confidence, and knowledge of my subjects.

At university, when the timetabling and systemising that was once performed by the school is removed, you are left to fend for yourself. Here, mind mapping has the potential to make even more of a difference to students. If the universities and revision sites were to actively advocate the use of mind maps, students would be able to make better use of their time and learn more effectively.

So, how can Biggerplate build a bridge to education?

I think teachers are the key. In the classroom, students are surprisingly receptive to the knowledge they need to pass their exams. In my experience, good teachers, whilst passing on this knowledge, use a variety of presentational techniques that keep us students alert and interested. Some use video clips, others discussion, but I find it most beneficial when a teacher uses and/or recommends a website. This is because I can access it in my own time and use the website in a way I personally find beneficial, unlike a video where it’s the same for everyone. More often than not, these websites are linked with larger revision sites that branch off into specific topics. Mind maps, whilst used in the classroom from time to time, hardly ever feature on these websites; websites that are used daily by hundreds, even thousands of students. If teachers were to recommend either these revision sights that did involve mind maps of some form, or Biggerplate’s library of mind maps directly, there would be an immediate flow of new members coming to the mind mapping community, creating and sharing ideas. If a connection could be made with the teachers and get them involved in the mind mapping community, the interest would filter down to the students who would benefit as a result.
“But why not go straight to the students and get them interested in mind mapping directly?”

From my own experience, every school has a range of abilities and motivations levels to match. A select few students would possibly give mind mapping a go if they were approached by an external body (Biggerplate, for example) because they could possibly see how it would benefit them without having tried it. Yet the large majority, of which I was a part, would be pessimistic and frankly stubborn about how mind mapping would work, seeing as they don’t use it now so why would they start using it? “I’m doing just fine on my own” sort of thing. But when a teacher, the source of all of the student’s key knowledge, tells them that this will help their grades and boost their overall learning capacity, they will listen and react. Whenever a teacher recommends a website at our school, we all use it as a resource because our teacher said it would help. The knowledge comes from the teacher, so if a teacher uses a website to teach, then that information has technically come from the teacher too. So, more students will be exposed to mind mapping if they are made aware of it by their teachers as opposed to someone else.

The prospect of mind mapping becoming a common theme in education is a real and optimistic one. The challenge now is to make it a reality.

Thanks to Pete for his hard work and for sharing his valuable insights with us! We want your opinions on the uses, benefits and potential pitfalls of mind mapping in education. Feel free to comment below or get in touch via Twitter about your own experiences.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mind Maps in Action: Life Coaching

In this instalment of our 'Mind Maps in Action' series, we hear from Adam Sicinski - life coach and founder of IQ Matrix. Here, Adam speaks of his experiences with mind mapping, it's applications in his life coaching career and how it even earned him celebrity status!!

Could you tell us a little about yourself and the work you do on a daily basis?

I guess I'm a life coach who at some point converted to a passionate mind mapper. I initially started out working as a life coach helping people to work through problems, overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. The typical things that life coaches do. However, over time I discovered the incredible value of working with mind maps and began to turn my coaching knowledge and experience into maps that others could use as a primary self-coaching tool. Today I still do some coaching, however my main focus is on developing self-coaching/self-growth mind maps that my customers and online readers can use as handy reference tools to help them overcome obstacles, eliminate self-sabotage patterns and achieve their goals. The maps I create are not typical mind maps that follow Tony Buzan's rules of mind mapping to the letter. I've deviated somewhat from Tony Buzan's guidelines for mind mapping, however Tony Buzan has certainly been one of my greatest mentors along this journey. I call my maps IQ Matrices. I've created over 250 IQ Matrix maps on various self-growth and life coaching topics over a period of 5 years. I sell these maps on my website as digital downloads and as physical posters.

When and how did you first come across mind mapping?

I first came across mind mapping while attending university. I was browsing the university library and I came across one of Tony Buzan's mind mapping books. Back then the concept of making a living using mind maps of course never crossed my mind, however the process of improving my ability to learn and remember information much more readily and easily using mind maps absolutely intrigued me. I was very much an average student with an average memory. There was really nothing special about me. But using mind maps seemed to work to my strengths and allowed me to organize the information I was learning very effectively in a more visual way. Not only that, but I was also able to remember and recall that information very quickly in ways I had never imagined was possible. This was exactly what I was looking for to help me through my university exams. And I of course made full use of mind mapping while at university. Coming into every lecture everyone would pull out their laptops or notepads. I would come in with four colored pens and large A3 sheets of paper all ready to mind map my lecture notes. It was of course weird and unusual for most who hadn't been exposed to mind mapping before. They wondered what on earth I was doing. I got some strange reactions and at times some criticism. However, I guess the perks were that I became somewhat of a celebrity thanks to my mind map making. :)

What motivated you to start the IQ Matrix site, and can you give us an overview of what it's all about?

Two events led me to the creation of the IQ Matrix concept. The first path stems back to my life coaching work. While coaching my clients there was a missing element. I felt as though I needed to provide them with a tool that they could use in between our sessions. Often we covered so much over a period of one session, but by the time they walked away from that session they didn't have anything tangible to work with. I felt I needed to give them something tangible they could take away and use as a guidance tool to help them put the points we discussed into action. Mind maps were of course that missing ingredient. At the same time while all this was going on, an entrepreneur friend of mine saw a MindManager map I had created for my life coaching business. He absolutely loved the map and asked me if I could possibly create more of these maps for his customer base. His customers were high school students who were looking for effective study materials to help them prepare for their examinations. What he needed was for me to summarize English Literature books in a mind map format that he wanted to turn into a poster that students would hang on their wall for easy reference. I reluctantly agreed. I was reluctant because I had no idea how to create visually appealing maps that people would want to buy. MindManager was fantastic for my own personal use, but I didn't feel it was flashy enough to sell to the mass market. After a little research, I thankfully found a way to produce these maps in a more visually appealing way using graphics type of software. I ended up producing about 20 maps for him that first year. The maps sold really well and as a result this gave me the idea to produce more maps of this type for my life coaching work. And of course this eventually led to the launch of IQmatrix.com in late 2008.

What do you perceive to be the greatest benefits of mind mapping?

Mind maps are the ultimate organization tool for my thoughts. Over the years I've read many books and collected an incredible amount of information about self-improvement, neural linguistic programming and life coaching. Mind maps, and in particular MindManager software allowed me to organize this information in a practical and helpful way. It helped me make sense of everything because when I organized this information into a mind map I got a "big picture" overview of the subject matter. I could see how one topic was connected to another and it just helped me to make sense of everything very quickly. In fact, these mind maps allowed me to see connections that I would not have otherwise spotted. As a result I was able to get a better understanding about specific topics. I subsequently gained more clarity about how to process and best use this information in my own life. Of course mind maps help with memory and recall. However, what I value most about mind maps is that they provide me the ability to move branches/topics around freely and make new connections. It kind of feels like reaching into my brain and physically organizing my thoughts. That's really the greatest benefit I've found with using mind maps.

How would you convince a cynic to give mapping a try?

I guess it would depend on what purpose they would potentially be using mind maps for. Do they want to organize information? Are they trying to learn something? Are they working through a problem or attempting to brainstorm ideas? I think that the best way to convince someone of the value of mind mapping would be to first find out exactly what they are trying to do; secondly to break down the process they are using to do that; thirdly to get them to acknowledge the flaws in that process, and fourthly to then show them how they can do exactly that in a better way using mind maps. Of course understanding their goal, purpose and needs is the key. Without this understanding it would be difficult to convince anyone otherwise. I think it's important to first show them that you understand the value of the way they are working through things. Then get them to acknowledge the flaws in this process. Once they agree that there are flaws in the way they are working, then they will be more open to alternative suggestions coming in the form of mind mapping. And if that doesn't work, just hand them one of Tony Buzan's books. :)

What do you think could be done to encourage wider use of mapping?

I think it begins at school. At the youngest of age kids should be encouraged to use mind maps. More specifically they need to be taught about the value of using mind maps and in general visual thinking tools. We are biologically hardwired to think visually. In fact, 75 percent of the neurons in the brain are assigned to the visual processing of information. However the school system doesn't necessarily encourage visual/creative thinking. And this is the main reason why some kids struggle at school. There are better and more effective ways of learning, thinking and organizing information. But most schools just don't yet get it. They don't even teach kids
how to learn and study more effectively. They just tell them what they need to learn and leave the "how to" part out of the equation. When kids are encouraged to use mind mapping and to think visually from the youngest of age, they develop habits that last a lifetime. These habits follow them into adulthood and in the long-term this will certainly encourage the wider use of mind mapping in various fields, industries and specialties. 

What is the most unusual/creative use of a mind map that you've come across?

I love the idea of a mind map resume. If you do a search online you will find some fantastic examples of people who have turned their resume into a mind map. It's certainly something that can help you standout in a crowded and often very competitive job market. In fact, anything that can help us stand out can make a difference between getting an interview or getting overlooked altogether. I think these visual resume's work well because they provide a one page overview of who we are and the experience we have had. But I think the most valuable thing about them is that these mind maps provide insights into your personality and potentially into an undisclosed skill set. They show that you are a lateral thinker who might be able to bring a little creative energy into the workplace. In this day and age to get ahead you need to stand out. You need to do something different, something that's a little outside the box. Mind mapping your resume is certainly one of many creative ways to get that edge.

Would you like to add anything else?

Yes, I would like to mention the incredible value of Biggerplate and the unrivaled repository of mind mapping resources available through the site. Every mind map downloaded is like stepping into the mind of a complete stranger who has given a lot of thought about their chosen topic. You see how they have organized their thoughts and get a sense of who they are through their choice of words and through the presentation of their mind map. Every map is like having a personal conversation with that person. However, instead of listening to their words you get insights into their thoughts, ideas and perspectives. In fact, you may come across several maps exploring the same topic, and yet every one of them is presented in a unique way that expresses each individual's personality and insights. Biggerplate is like an encyclopedia of the human mind — of many minds working together in a collective way to help individuals better understand the world, and to better understand themselves through other people's thoughts. Therefore every time you share a mind map on Biggerplate you are not only sharing your thoughts with others, you are helping others to better understand their world and to better understand themselves through your mind maps. You are essentially helping people to find answers to their own pressing problems using your own thoughts and perspectives. As such the greatest gift that you could possibly give to someone you will never meet doesn't come in the form of money, but rather in the form of a mind map.

A huge thank you to Adam for sharing his insights with us! You can check out IQ Matrix by clicking here. You can also find Adam on Biggerplate and follow him on Twitter. If you have a 'Mind Maps in Action' story you would like to share with us, get in touch on Twitter or leave a comment below.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mind Maps in Action: Jeff Hallett

Can you tell us who you are, what your role is? What does your job involve on a day to day basis?

I’m the director for global business transformation process engineering at Elekta. My job, day to day, is about working with representatives and thought leaders across the company to find ways to improve harmonization and collaboration across our product development centers with the goal of improving time to market and customer delight.

When and why did you first start using mind maps in your working world?

I actually started mind mapping back in the early 90’s. I first started using it to both organize my thoughts on projects and activities and to engage participation dynamically for brainstorming and planning.

What type of tasks are you using mind maps for?

Brainstorming approaches to problems with stakeholders, planning activities and projects, organizing my own thoughts for papers or presentations.

Can you explain how mind mapping helps you with these tasks, and with your job overall?

Mind mapping has an inherent fluid organization to it; I can regroup and recombine ideas in a very dynamic way as my perception and interpretation changes. That means my concepts can group and regroup to higher levels of abstraction as they evolve rather than fitting ideas into a preconceived structure at the onset.  Also, the technique is very visual so it is ideal for engaging other participants. The visual nature encourages them to contribute in ways that an outline or bullet list doesn’t (similar to the way sticky notes encourage involvement)

What has your experience been of introducing others to mind mapping?

Very positive. Even if they don’t pick up the technique themselves and start doing it on their own, they enjoy participating in creating mind maps.

What do you think can/should be done to increase adoption of mind mapping?

I think the tooling options are readily available. Finding ways to do mindmapping collaboratively with remote participants would really help in today’s world – having one person drive over a WebEx session for example doesn’t have the same engagement as if someone can add a leaf to a node in the mindmap on their computer or iPad and have the entire audience see it happen in real time. I think also some people hearing about mindmapping think it is some specialized skill or technique – it sounds bigger and fancier than it really is – and that makes it hard for people to approach sometimes. Maybe as a community we can help people see it is just a simple technique and not rocket science.

Is there anything else you'd like to include/share?

I’m glad to have found this community of like-minded people and glad to promote this approach. One of my daughters has already shown me a mindmap she created to help with a recent paper she was writing for a college course and the other will be generating one next week to structure some laboratory experimental results for a paper she is writing for her graduate work.

Thank you to Jeff for sharing his story with us! Find Jeff on Biggerplate for more great maps, and follow him on Twitter. If you would like to share your mind mapping experiences with us, get in touch via Twitter or leave a comment below!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mind Maps in Action: NHS Service Improvement

In our latest 'Mind Maps in Action' story, we speak with Mary Duggan, who is a long term mind mapper, and part of the Service Improvement and Development team with the South Yorkshire NHS here in the UK. 

Can you tell us who you are, what your role is? What does your job involve on a day to day basis?
Role: Lead Service Improvement and Development Manager
Employer: Large NHS provider of community health, mental health and learning disability services

Day to day:
  • Business case development
  • Bid co-ordination and authoring
  • Guideline development
  • Service improvement activity, including diagnostic workshops, data analysis, and market analysis.
  • Change management, including event planning and delivery, and project planning/co-ordination. 
When and why did you first start using mind maps in your working world?
My first mind map was used at work around 25 years ago... I can still remember this one!  I was in a meeting with a couple of colleagues, and we were planning a course that we wanted to offer.  I don't know what prompted me to start mind mapping, but I did and rapidly got a clear picture of how the course could be designed and delivered.
I first started using mindmapping software around 2003... I was so excited when I found software that I could use to create mind maps.  I couldn't believe how easy to use it was.  I still love the way that the software doesn't get in my way.  I don't have to stop and think about how to use it - I just get on with capturing thoughts and ideas.

Why: Good question! 

My husband was always interested in using mind maps and I can remember him using one to explore a work problem and then wanting to share it with his colleagues.  He didn't want to share a hand-drawn map, and I think we resorted to drawing it in PowerPoint in the end.  It took hours.  That must have been one of the things that prompted me to look for software that would let me create mind maps quickly and intuitively.

What type of tasks are you using mind maps for?
  • Workload management
  • Meeting management
  • Document production
  • Event planning
  • Project planning
  • Conversation capture
  • Data analysis
  • Presentation design
  • Note taking
  • Creating prĂ©cis of key documents
  • I have mind mapped entire books.  Hasn't everyone?
  • Thinking through, and answering these questions! (See map)
Can you explain how mind mapping helps you with these tasks, and with your job overall?


This is probably the most exciting aspect of mind maps. They reflect the way that the mind works better than a traditional linear document that goes from A to B to C and so on.  They also enable people to make connections between issues or concepts that they might not have done if those concepts were presented in a linear, one step at a time format. Using mind maps tends to give a greater creative yield and also a more thorough exploration of an issue.

Dynamic capability

Mind mapping really came alive for me when I started using software as opposed to hand-drawn maps.  I love the fact that I can dump my ideas and thoughts into a map with no worries about layout and order.  I can then rearrange and sort until I'm happy with the configuration.  I use this a lot with people in the early stages of exploring an issue, scoping a business opportunity or developing a project plan.  This allows people's thoughts to dot around all over the place, as they do, without interrupting the creative flow.

I also use this in meeting management.  Even though you may have set an agenda and people may even have read that agenda before the meeting, conversations don't always fit neatly under the headings.  I can use mind mapping to show the agenda and to capture discussion under the various headings without always having to shepherd people back to the point under discussion.  It allows people to comfortably range forward and back in the discussion.  Meetings may seem less formal and 'managed' that way, but always cover the ground that they need to.

Interface with MS Office

This is where the software gets really clever.  I still love it when I work with a colleague on planning a presentation. I can see them thinking 'this is all very well, but then it's going to take hours to translate all of this across to PowerPoint.'  It is a real joy to see the expression on their face when I hit the button to export to PowerPoint and all of a sudden, there is a ready to go presentation.  It makes it so easy.

The ability to export to MS Office and conversely to copy and paste in from Office is a real productivity booster.  For example, I copied and pasted the questions for this interview from the email directly to this map.  Having done that, I can move around the map as things about how I work with mind maps occur to me.  I guess I could then export the whole thing to a Word document to send it back!

General productivity wonderfulness

Mind mapping is my go-to tool for an awful lot of what I do.  If I'm not clear about how to proceed with something, I use a mind map to clarify my thoughts.  If I want to capture amazingly rich detail about a conversation, I mind map it as we are talking (it helps to be able to touch type!).  If I need to produce a standard document, like a business case or a project initiation document, I pick out a template.

I keep my own to-do list as a mind map on my desktop.  It's a bit more than a to-do list, of course.  I dump all of my thoughts, ideas, useful information about each of the tasks/projects on my list into this map.  Then, say I have a progress chasing meeting with my manager, I have all of this information at my fingertips, and I can then add in his suggestions.

Using mind mapping so extensively saves me countless hours and is a real stress-reducer.  It acts as a huge external memory for me.

What has your experience been of introducing others to mind mapping?

I love introducing people to mind mapping.  Very occasionally, people will say 'it works for you, but it's not my thing'.  More usually, people ask for details about where they can get the software.  I find that people get the concept very quickly and are particularly excited when they see how it can interface with the MS Office software that they are already using.

What do you think can/should be done to increase adoption of mind mapping within the NHS?
  • Increase awareness: Case studies, Demo animations, Offer live demos
  • Increase confidence in purchase: Compatibility with other software e.g. MS Office, Post-sales support (Troubleshooting, Advice), Evidence of software reliability
  • Increase off the shelf utility: NHS-specific templates, NHS-focused training - webinars are great
Is there anything else you'd like to include/share?
I still wish someone could figure out how to get mind mapping software to create process maps. I know I can use Visio, but I bet mind mapping software could do it better/faster

Thanks to Mary for sharing this her story with us! Would you like to share your mind mapping experience with us? Get in touch with us on Twitter or leave a comment below!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mindjet's 'Get Connected Week' returns!

Our good friends over at Mindjet have been hard at work preparing for this year's 'Get Connected Week' - their annual virtual event that gives people a great chance to learn more about mind mapping, MindManager, and all the exciting things happening at Mindjet! We caught up with the team to get the low down on what we can expect from this years #GetConnectedWeek

Mindjet's Get Connected Week

Q. We're delighted to see the return of Get Connected Week once more! For those who are unfamiliar, can you give us an overview of what it’s all about, and perhaps why this initiative was launched a few years back?

We launched Get Connected Week, which is our (now-annual) three-day virtual event, back in 2012, in response to great demand from our customers for our monthly webinar programme. Each month we have a large number of registrations for the live sessions that we run as part of the monthly programme (you can sign up to receive invites to these here) and receive great feedback from people wanting to interact more with us directly through these sessions and learn how they can get even more from our products. 
Get Connected Week is about getting our users in one ‘room’ (so to speak) where they can hear directly from our experts on various topics that include product demonstrations, practical ‘solutions’ webinars and industry insight led discussions, whilst also getting access to new resources and being able to interact with other users through social media.

Q. What can mind mappers expect from Get Connected Week this year?

Last year’s event was a huge success and we received tons of great feedback from some of our 3,500 registrants, and we look to build on that success this year. This year, in addition to best-practice and us-case focused sessions, we look at how Mindjet products can promote individual and team creativity to drive innovation and success at an enterprise level.

Q. Is Get Connected Week just for experienced MindManager users only?

Absolutely not. Each year when we develop the schedule we make sure that there are sessions for everyone – whether you are brand new to Mindjet and our products, a ‘light’ user looking for guidance on how to get more out of the product, or a power user. We also have a wealth of resources available to attendees to help people to get started – including map templates and case studies.

Q. What has the feedback been like in previous years, and can you identify any of the highlights/most popular stuff from previous years?

Our ‘solutions’ sessions are always very well received – these focus on specific use cases. This year we use these to look at how to better manage projects when dealing with dispersed teams, as well as how to improve information management.

We also find that each year our customers love having the opportunity to pose questions directly to the head of our product team, so again this year are running a full product Q&A session with our Senior VP of Products, James Gardner.

Q. How can people get involved?

Well, apart from joining the session, we encourage people to get involved through the Q&A at the end of each webinar, as well as through social media, which will be monitored throughout the week using #GetConnectedWeek. We make sure that all questions are followed-up on following the sessions if we don’t get through them all on the live sessions.