Monday, May 11, 2015

Biggerplate Brunch Club launching this month!

Those of you who have been paying close attention over the last few months, either through our regular Town Hall Hangout calls, or by joining us at Biggerplate Unplugged London, will surely now know all about the new Biggerplate Brunch Club, which is officially launching later this month in Amsterdam on May 27!

No idea what we're talking about? Ok, read on...

In this year's Annual Mind Map Report we outlined ambitious plans to further develop our events portfolio to provide more opportunities for members of our community to engage directly with Biggerplate, and each other, through a more regular and varied mixture of online and offline events. As the Biggerplate Unplugged conference series settles into a more orderly annual cycle (check out New York 2016...), we have been working away on the creation of a regular calendar of free online 'hangouts', and, perhaps more ambitiously, a regular series of small brunch meetings in key locations around the world... affectionately known as the Biggerplate Brunch Club!

This month we are launching the first ever Brunch Club meeting in Amsterdam, and will be following this with a regular calendar of meetings in key cities around the world over the coming year. If there's an active mind mapping community in your city - you'll probably be seeing us soon...

What is the purpose?
The aim of the Brunch Club is to create more regular opportunities for regional engagement and collaboration with our members. We want to create more chances for our members to get together and share ideas, without having to wait for the Biggerplate Unplugged conference to come to town. The Brunch Club will enable us to create regular meeting opportunities for our community members, and perhaps reach new areas where the conference has not yet ventured. We think this new approach will allow us to further build regional collaborations with mind mappers, and we're so excited to hit the road!

What is the format?
Brunch Club meetings will be small gatherings of up to 12 people. We will get together at 10:00 am, with some tasty brunch food provided. We'll give attendees a short overview of key projects and progress at Biggerplate.com, then open up the remainder of the meeting for interactive discussion, including time for general feedback, and exploration of new ideas and opportunities. The meetings will conclude by 12:00, and hopefully provide a great opportunity for us to learn more about the local mind mapping communities in different areas, and explore ways that we can collaborate and innovate to drive greater mind mapping adoption in the region.
These meetings are free of charge, but space is extremely limited (maximum 12 people) so we expect each meeting to fill up quick!  

Who is it for?
If you are a member of Biggerplate.com, then the Brunch Club is open to you! Since space is strictly limited, we will be giving preference to members of our community who are actively sharing mind maps, but other than that, it's an open invitation to anyone who has an interest in shaping the future of Biggerplate.com and the mind mapping world in general.

Where and when?
The first Brunch Club meetings will take place in Amsterdam, and Paris, with further dates and locations to be announced soon.

Amsterdam:
28 May 2015 (view details)

Paris:
18 June 2015 (view details)

The Brunch Club will break over the summer (July and August) then return in September, with a number of additional meeting dates and locations!
Keep an eye on Biggerplate.com/Events to see when the Brunch Club is in your part of the world!

Questions?
Would you like to see the Brunch Club in your city? Why not drop us an email and let us know where you are! If we can find enough Biggerplate members in your region, then a Brunch Club meeting could be a possibility!
Tweet us about the Brunch Club using the tag #BPBrunch

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mind Maps in Action: Personal Dashboard Maps

In this edition of our Mind Maps in Action series of blog posts, we talk to Mathieu van der Wal about the use of Personal Dashboard Mind Maps, and the free webinar series he, and the World of Minds team, are offering to help you make the most of this superb tool!

Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Having a background in Interaction Design, I always had this urge to figure out ways how to present information in a meaningful, useful and humane way. After graduating in 2004 I joined
aHa!Coaching in The Netherlands to work on integrations of Mindjet MindManager in different work processes by developing add-ins and custom integrations. After a couple of years of working with visual maps I used them so much that I started to think about broader applications of visual mapping and got certified as a trainer. In 2008 aHa!Coaching joined the network organisation World of Minds, where we share a vision that people can (and should) be less busy being busy and that visualisation can play a part in that goal.




My current projects involve (educating on) integrating visual mapping as part of A New Smarter Way of Working to gain a competitive edge of teams and organisations by improved usage of their human capital.


How were you first introduced to mind mapping?
Back in 2004 there were some ideas at aHa!Coaching on how we could use mind mapping software to help people in their line of work. However, my colleague Jerre Lubberts always stressed that it is not only a software tool but that you also need to know the underlying techniques of mind mapping and the way it is both a thinking, writing and memory technique. With a software engineering background, actually the process of ‘building’ maps from different parts of information felt very natural and liberating to me.


How do you now use mind maps in your working life?
I use them on a daily basis, both for myself as for our clients. Actually, the ‘back bone’ of my roles, goals, projects and tasks is my Personal Dashboard map (see screenshot below).





I use my Personal Dashboard map in a weekly process to review the work that has been done and the work that has is yet to come. If I keep my dashboard up to date it actually saves me time as I can make better decisions on what to do and what not to do. I use the saved time much like 20Time: don’t fill it with ‘busyness’, but work on improving processes, try a new project or experiment etc. along the principles of methodologies like the Lean Startup philosophy.


What do you think is the greatest benefit of the usage of a Personal Dashboard map?
Working visually with such a Personal Dashboard map certainly made the process of keeping overview of your work more fun, which motivates me to keep doing it. I like how the structure of the map provides context on all the work that’s going on,instead of just a list of projects and things that I want to do ‘some day’. Also, the map helps me to find information from a project-perspective point of view and allows links to existing information, whether that be e-mails, local files or cloud based files.


Once you start adding information in a software mindmap there is so much you can do which adds value to having your map instead of having lists or paper overviews: hyperlinks to existing documents, filtering based on codified information (color, icons), task-based filtering like deadlines and synchronising with existing task lists.


The map quickly becomes a ‘living document’ which is more than just a snapshot of the information you had at a specific time: it becomes a true dashboard (like the one in a car) to help you to make the best decisions in the moment.


What do you think are the greatest barriers to wider adoption of mapping?
From my experience it seems to have to do with not being a part of the process of creating a map and a fear of having to create the perfect map at once.


We do a lot of sessions with clients, and it makes a lot of difference if we create the map together with the clients on a big screen (or online) or if we just send the completed map after the session. Having clients participate in creating the maps really helps them to see the value of the mapping process and helps them to working with the thinking and memory techniques that are part of mapping as well.


It feels like people are attracted to the mapping purely based on the visual aspect, but this one-sided approach results either in people jumping to the software and creating huge unusable maps or that they never start practise mapping by hand because they think you ‘need to be able to draw well’ or ‘need to be creative’ (which is another discussion... :) so they just stop there and never pick up the mapping.


To quote Mikko Arevuo from the latest BPUN London: "It is ok to map poorly. What is important is how you USE the map"


Would you like to add anything else?
Yes, I know from my own experience that people have difficulties starting their own Personal Dashboard map because they’re “just too busy right now” and they think they need to create a perfect overview in one take. However, having such a perfect overview (does it even exist?) doesn’t help much as the world just keeps on spinning, things keep coming in between and priorities shift: working smarter is a process that you need to repeat every day, week and quarter.


So, I would like to offer to the Biggerplate Community to join me in our ‘Personal Dashboard ’webinar series for free so they can start creating their own Personal Dashboard map in their mapping software of choice and customise it to their needs.

We will be starting a new series on the 12th of May in English, and another series (in Dutch) on the 26th of May. If you’re interested, but can’t make it to one of the series, just send me an e-mail at mathieu@ahacoaching.nl and I’ll keep you updated on the new series.


A huge thanks to Mathieu for sharing his thoughts with us and we wish him the best of luck with the webinar series!

Have you got a 'Mind Maps in Action' story to share with us? Then get in touch by commenting below, or via Twitter!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

"The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software" - by Chuck Frey


In this blog post we talk to founder of the Mind Mapping Software Blog, Chuck Frey, about his new book: "The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software".



1. Could you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

I am the founder and publisher of the Mind Mapping Software Blog, the web's leading source for news, reviews, advice and best practices for mind mapping and visual thinking. My passion is helping business people understand how they can think, plan, execute and innovate more effectively using visual tools and techniques.

2. How were you first introduced to mind mapping?



I've been interested in creativity tools and techniques for a very long time. I was aware of hand-drawn mind maps and what they could be used for, but I had never seen mind mapping software. I had an opportunity to see a demonstration of Inspiration in Chicago when it was a fairly new product, and I was immediately hooked. I could see the potential of a visual hierarchy of information that could be easily added to and rearranged. At the time, it seemed to be a very elegant way to capture and organize ideas in a highly-engaging format. At that time, I had no idea of what it would eventually become. Today, I call it "the savvy executive's secret weapon," because it's such a powerful tool for thinking and planning. It can help business people get more work done faster, tackle more complex projects, make better decisions and much, much more!

3. Could you tell us a bit about your new book, "The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software"?

It answers two key questions: How can mind mapping software streamline and enhance your work? And how can you learn enough about it to make an intelligent decision on which program best fits your needs? The Essential Guide to Mind Mapping Software is a free 30-page e-book that is designed to help you understand what mind mapping software is, how it can benefit business people like you and what to consider when selecting a program that will meet your needs.

It contains a concise collection of information and advice on:
·         Selecting the best program for your needs
·         Benefits and advantages of mind mapping software
·         Powerful business applications
·         Must-have features to look for
·         A glossary of mind mapping terms
·         11 leading programs compared on 80+ features
·         Software developer profiles

I know a lot of people come to Biggerplate.com seeking inspiration. They want to know what's possible - what others are doing with mind mapping software. It contains some wonderful examples. But they need more information and knowledge to take the next step, to identify their needs and then find software solutions that are a good fit for them. That's where my guide comes into the picture. It's a roadmap to help people along that process.


4. What prompted you to write the book?

For a number of years, I have published a comparison chart that shows the major desktop-based mind mapping software programs, side-by-side. It's part of my commitment to providing my readers with helpful, actionable information and resources they can use to be more productive, creative and effective. This comparison chart has always been very popular with my readers. 

But earlier this year, I did some deep thinking about my readers and their information needs. I realized that the comparison chart only served a small percentage of them - those people who had already decided that it was time to invest in mind mapping software, and were just looking for advice on which program to buy. 

I also realized there was a much bigger opportunity to help those people who are earlier in the process - who may have heard about mind mapping software, but aren't sure what all the excitement is about. They may think it's just for brainstorming and organizing ideas. In fact, it can do so much more today. 

Also, these people may not be sure how they can use mind mapping software to enhance their work and life. They may be afraid that it has a high learning curve - which they don't have time to deal with. Once again, that's not an accurate picture. Today's mind mapping software offers intuitive interfaces that can help even newbies get started creating basic mind maps fairly quickly.

In summary, these people don’t have enough information to make an informed decision about whether or not it's a good match for their needs.

So I decided to assemble an e-book that contains everything a business person would need to know to accurately understand what today's mind mapping software can do for them, organized into a practical, four-step process. It's all presented in a concise format, so readers can get through it quickly and take action based on what they've learned.


5. Who would benefit most from reading it and what can they expect to learn?

It's designed for anyone who is challenged by having too much to do, multi-faceted projects that are hard to get their heads around, assignments with a high degree of ambiguity (where you need to clearly define what you need to know and where to find it before you can even begin working on the project itself) and other information management challenges. 

That means any knowledge worker can benefit from the Essential Guide. Managers and leaders can also learn a lot from it. They tend to be choke points for a lot of information and have the most to gain from becoming more efficient at what they do.

When you're done reading The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software, you'll have an accurate understanding of what it is, how you can use it to streamline and improve your work and you'll understand the specialized terminology surrounding this type of visual thinking. You'll also have a very clear picture of the strengths, weaknesses and advantages of each of the 11 major software programs for Windows, Mac and Linux. 

In other words, you'll be armed with enough information to decide if mind mapping software is a good fit for you, and which programs you ought to take a closer look at. 


6. Where can we find it!?

The Essential Guide to Getting Started with Mind Mapping Software is a free download from my Mind Mapping Software Blog here: http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/the-essential-guide-to-mind-mapping-software


7. Would you like to add anything else?

Thanks for the opportunity to share this new resource with the readers of the Biggerplate blog!

A huge thank you to Chuck for talking to us, and for creating and sharing this valuable resource with the mapping community!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mind Maps in Action: Using mind maps to support disabled students.

In this edition of our Mind Maps in Action series, we talk to Assistive Technology tutor, Martyn Stahl, about his use of mind mapping software to help disabled students at Portsmouth University achieve their full potential.

1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

About 16 years ago a TV program showing how voice recognition could help dyslexics changed my course of employment. Being dyslexic myself I could see the potential it had in helping people that had previously struggled to express themselves in school, work and life.  Having no knowledge of computers and no teaching experience I embarked on several courses at college and Portsmouth University. While completing a teacher trainer course in IT at Portsmouth University I was asked to support their disabled students, training them in the use of what is now termed Assistive Technology.  I have been employed by University of Portsmouth for 14 years working with disabled students showing them how they can use technology to support their studies. I still get a great kick out of seeing how technology can remove large barriers to students opening up a path to success.

2. How and when were you first introduced to mind mapping?

One of the first lessons I had to take was in the use of Inspiration mind mapping software, which presented quite a challenge, as I hadn’t heard of either! Enter the Buzan Mind Map book. I thought it was great. I could clearly see how it worked and the potential for everyone, not just my students. Adapting the Buzan methods to the then diagram based Inspiration required some out-of-the-box thinking but I got there. Attending a Buzan two-day course helped me to fill in some of the gaps I had and it was helpful to talk to people from varying backgrounds, learning how they use it.

3. What do you perceive to be the single greatest benefit of mapping?

Making things clear. Whether you are using it to plan a project, take notes or give a presentation it’s, ability to give clarity is unbeatable. Being able to use colour, pictures and structuring it in a way that make sense to you means the information is personal. It’s like you now own it!

4. What role does mapping play in your day-to-day work?

I use it to plan courses, curriculum, presentations and note taking at meetings. Whereas I used to do a lot of hand drawn mind maps I now use software most of the time. iThoughts on my iPad is excellent. Having such a comprehensive package on a portable device is great. Inspiration, Mind Jet, MindGenius and MindView are the main products that I teach which keeps me on my toes. I spend a good deal of my time showing students how to get the best out of mind maps to support them in planning and writing essays, note making, organising their day and giving presentations. Using the Buzan methods as a basis helps them focus on what the information they’re studying is really about. I also try to promote mind mapping amongst colleagues and have arranged workshops in the use of Inspiration and MindView which we have site licences for. Part of my job is to make sure the networked Assistive Technology is working and kept up-to-date, which includes mind mapping software.

5. How have your students reacted to the use of maps and what difference has it made to their work?

This is probably the best part of my work. Although students come from school and college having used mind maps they often have a very patchy idea of what it is and are doubtful it can help them. As I talk them through the software and demonstrate how they should be using it to make information clear it is often like turning the light on in a dark room. They go from “don’t see the point in being here” to “this is great”. Tying in study skills with mind mapping software allows them fulfil their potential, especial the dyslexic students. Most dyslexics have short-term memory and organisational problems but are very visual, they have to think out-of-the-box to get round this. It’s like mind maps are made for them.

To take one area as an example, note making from textbooks. If you have a short-term memory problem this becomes a nightmare. Why am I reading this? What am I looking for? What was the question? What’s important? I take them through some basic study skills and show them how mind maps can be used and by focusing on the main central topic they can record small scraps of information using just key words which can be added to and easily reorganised (one of the benefits of software based maps). It means they don’t have to remember large amounts of data. It is recorded in a way that makes sense to them with their key words and is easily restructured. The result is a sense of relief and a positive view of note making.

I have visited a lot of student accommodation, not always a pleasant experience….. but it’s great to see printed mind maps small and very large on walls, fridges and ceilings!  They love them.

6. What do you think is the greatest barrier to wider adoption of mapping in education? And where within the education sector do you think mapping could have the biggest impact?

The understanding of and training in the many uses of mind mapping. Teachers are overloaded from primary through to senior school and like most good tools mind mapping would make their own and students’ life easier but how to find the time and where to go for advice? Web sites like Biggerplate can play a part. I’ve certainly picked up some good ideas but more specific training is required.
Primary school has to be the starting point. Learning is fun at that age so if mind maps become a part of their learning tools they will carry it through their education and into their working life. After all mind maps are fun whether you are 5 or 50!

7. Would you like to add anything else?

I would certainly like to ‘Big Up’ Biggerplate. Looking at example maps I have found solutions to some tricky problems and the webinars have been helpful. Lets have more of the same with an even greater variety.

A huge thank you to Martyn for sharing his experiences with us, and we wish him and his students the best of luck for the future!

If you're using mind maps in your day to day work or personal life, we want to hear from you! Feel free to get in touch via Twitter (click here) or by commenting below.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Biggerplate Unplugged, London: Full Agenda!

With Biggerplate Unplugged - the Annual Mind Map Conference - returning to London later this week, we're taking a look at the full speaking line up for the day!

Liam Hughes - Liam (Biggerplate) will discuss the first two years of Biggerplate Unplugged, and explore what we have learned about the mind mapping community through these events, and what comes next!

Craig Scott - Craig (iThoughts) will talk about how his customers tend to use the tools he develops, and how this influences the development of new features and functionality.

Sharon CurrySharon (Fathomicity) will draw upon her extensive experience of mapping in military, business, educational, charitable and civil service environments both in the UK and abroad to show organisations are 'mapping' into their most powerful and important resource. Their people.


Jamie MacDonald - Jamie (MindGenius) will share a few insights into some of the barriers to effectiveness at work, and highlights how business mind mapping acts as the 'pain relief' and catalyst for a more effective and productive way of working.


Raag Hazarika - Raag (MindJet) will explore key areas for potential mind mapping usage, including project management, visual information dashboards, personal productivity, strategy and business planning, brainstorming, and problem solving.

Mikko Arevuo - Mikko (Regent's University) will discuss how maps as epistemic objects can help decision-makers to make sense of complex problems and improve the quality of decision-making processes.


Norman McBrien - Norman (ExamTime) will discuss how students and teachers are using mind maps in conjunction with other online tools to create memorable learning experiences.

David Svoboda - David (Intel & ThinkBuzan) will share his personal experience of how the use of Mind Mapping software can give a presentation greater impact.

Sergey Soloviev - Sergey will illustrate the activities seen on every digital project where digital professionals exploit structure to reduce risk and explain why mind mapping software does the job better than other tools.

Madeleine Philippe Madeleine (Maptelling) will discuss how maps empower her students to learn, think, and communicate. How digital (and less digital) natives adopt these tools, and how they contribute to building skills for modern business.

There is still time to snap up one of the few remaining tickets and join us as the Annual Mind Map Conference returns to London. Don't forget: BPUN won't return to Europe until 2017, so don't miss out! Click HERE to book your place! Join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #BPUN.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Conference Countdown: Sharon Curry from Fathomicity

With just 10 days to go until Biggerplate Unplugged, we continue our countdown of the fantastic speakers lined up for the next mind map conference, taking place in London on 19 March! View event details

Sharon Curry: Fathomicity
Leading with mind maps

We first met Sharon at the very first Biggerplate Unplugged conference back in 2013, and since then we have been continually amazed and interested by her work in the fields of Leadership, and how she has incorporated mind mapping into a range of fascinating contexts to help support and enable leaders.

Sharon has a huge amount of experience in this field, as she is not only a former Naval Officer, but has also worked internationally on a range of business, education, and government projects focused on leadership. And at the heart of her leadership toolkit... is mind mapping!

Sharon will draw upon her extensive experience and learning in this field to show how organisations and leaders can use mind mapping to leverage their most powerful and important resource: their people.

We're thrilled to have Sharon coming to speak in London, and have no doubt that both experienced and aspiring leaders will be informed and inspired by what Sharon discusses during her presentation!

Join Sharon and a host of fantastic speakers at the next Mind Map Conference in London on 19 March! View full event details

Monday, March 9, 2015

Conference Countdown: Jamie MacDonald from MindGenius

With just 10 days to go until Biggerplate Unplugged, we continue our countdown of the fantastic speakers lined up for the next mind map conference, taking place in London on 19 March! View event details

Jamie MacDonald: MindGenius
A more effective way of working

Returning to speak at his second Biggerplate Unplugged event, Jamie will be exploring the barriers to effective working, and how mind mapping can help to overcome some of these issues, and act as the 'pain relief' in organisations. Jamie will also be discussing how mind mapping can act as a catalyst for more effective and productive working, based on his extensive experience of helping organisations to implement mapping in their daily work habits.

We're delighted to welcome Jamie back to speak, following on from his highly entertaining presentation at Biggerplate Unplugged in Berlin last year! Jamie is not only an experienced member of the MindGenius team, but is also a real mapping enthusiast, and is determined to ensure more people become familiar with this way of working, and the benefits it can bring!

Join Jamie and a host of fantastic speakers at the next Mind Map Conference in London on 19 March! View full event details