Thursday, 14 March 2019

My favourite and the best MindMap Software Tool Today

I don't usually walk around selling anything but today after years and years of using iMindMap for my Tony Buzan "proper mindmaps", and dozens of its other features...I am totally in awe and need to share.

I started using Microsoft (MS) Project in 1995. During my holiday (?) and spare time (??) I worked on a VB OLE project to integrate a packing scheduler algorithm for South Africa's biggest fresh fruit exporter with MS Project. Critical paths, Dependent tasks, Schedule compression, coloured, Start-Stop Dates, Split runs, Merged runs, Faster packing lines, Slower packing lines, More/Less expensive packing lines, Pallets per minute/hour/day, Breakages, Resource balancing, and a lot more was thrown at me, and I, in turn, threw the requirements into the algorithm and nicely displayed useful intelligence between a calendar view (before there was a calendar widget), an MS Access Database (ermmm), and MS Project. And allowed the human packing scheduler to move things around. What used to take him weeks and weeks locked away in small room every year, took a few hours of data entry, and then intelligent drag and drop to test different options at various stages of the year ahead. Power to the people! Power to the user! Organisational resilience was a key factor in why the client wanted this solution - the Planning Manager was getting very close to retirement and this was a massively complex job to succeed with, and critical to business success!

Now...after 24 years of acquaintance, love, hate and other feelings about MS Project (and project management in general, traditional, agile and other perspectives), and many of its competitors in "traditional project management" and "agile" spaces ... I have been settling for years now very comfortably into post-its, string, and/or magnetic whiteboards or cork boards.

Until now - finally a new tool is tickling my interest again in this space. Check out this video - Using iMindMap Time Map Feature - and let me know if you've ever seen any software tool better for planning dynamically and quicker than this! Yes, I will continue to collaborate and facilitate planning with a team using low-fidelity approaches...but then when it comes to digitising, I may take a photo, or I may take a backup photo AND upload the detail into iMindMap. "It depends" as always, on what the value is and to whom.

While you're looking at the Time Map video...consider the Bubble Web, Bubble Group and my current favourite, the Radial Map. It's the fastest way I currently have of converting all my random sometimes linear, sometimes non-linear, thoughts/ideas/memories/questions into something visual and then being able to make better sense of "it all". From essays/term papers I need to submit for my coaching degree, to notes from meetings, to possible options for various things. And especially notes to myself for my own reflections now, later, and much much later.

I don't have shares in iMindMap, but hope to (soon), or it's parent group Open Genius which also has an amazing charity to help youth of today be the leaders and saviours of tomorrow!

When my high school 16 year old best friend introduced me to mindmapping in preparation for our upcoming History exams, I really did not get it. I basically copied his the whole way through our studying together and had MUCH worse marks than him. Then in 2001 I bought

and it changed my world ever since. Slowly at first, but as I got better at drawing and creating something meaningful to me, so my memory of the things I was drawing and pictures I was creating for myself improved radically.

The More Colour, The More Drawing, The Better MindMaps Help Me Remember Anything And Make Sense Of Everything
A 3 Minute MindMap On An iPad Notes! Not A Great Example But Return On Investment Is Good Enough For This!

iMindMap Supports My MindMapping - The Only Software That Has and Does!
Another 3 Minute MindMap - From iMindMap. ROI Is Good Enough IMHO. See Why I Need All The Help When Presenting My Ideas To Other Folks? :-)

Prior to this, I could never last minute cram for exams. Not that I recommend anyone to do so! But I have discovered that even in crisis of 2 full time jobs and studies on top ... mindmapping got me through and still gets me through a massive amount of work in a short space of time!

And in about 2009 I gave this

to a friend who was also studying part-time and it helped them pass their legal+finance course with its huge volume of content!

I bought these 2

to help my son in 2018. There is some overlap between the 2 books but it seemed like such a solid investment in his lifetime and it turns out he really likes mindmapping also!

My son is only 7!
My Child Loves MindMapping
7 Year Old First MindMap By Hand

My son loves working on computers he HAS to use whatever I use (joys of being a rolemodel?), and so... he did this *quickly* as his first software mindmap.

iMindMap Really Is Child's Play
His First Ever Software MindMap Version Without Much Assistance Or Training From Me. iMindMap Really IS Child's Play! This Took Him Under 10 Minutes

Many more happy mindmapping and learning days ahead! #happyparents #happykids

More Happy Days! When I bought the iMindMap Ultimate Plus edition of the tool, I also received a copy of Tony Buzan's business mapping book. Some food for thought in here also especially if you're new to business and/or management!

If you don't yet know who Tony Buzan is, it's worth checking out his  TedX Talk "The Power Of A Mind To Map" and bits from youtube for example YouTube video "Learn, how to learn" for some sense of where he is coming from.

Thankyou for reading!

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

My favourite coaching tools: SMART Acronym Another Update

What the heck!? The SMART acronym again?
SMART Can Be Further Improved For Better Actions, Goals and Objectives That Are Crystal Clear!
SMART - 3rd Time Lucky?

I thought I had all this simple stuff figured out. By 2012 I was willing to post my original thoughts and approach to SMART Goals/Objectives in the original post: It had evolved from my own practice as a delivery team lead, management student, and, later on, my first 2 years of agile training classes, coaching individuals and teams, and supporting departments through successful transformations.

Through 2016-2017, after supporting more transformations and agile adoptions with much more variety I realised some useful nuances to this multi-purpose tool had emerged by working with it in so many different ways. So I put out my update - and thought "that's done now!".

Silly me. When is learning ever done? And so it was again. Late in 2018 I was on a totally non-agile, non-software, non-management, non-"normal" experiential psychology course. As we approached the end of the course we were asked to come up with 1 (I really like 1, and only 1, "there can be only 1!") SMART objective to help us take the next 1-2-3 steps after the course ended.

Whilst I was considering my objective, something else clicked into place for me that I'd been overlooking. Well 2 things actually. :-)

1, The confidence-risk level could be assessed with the "A" for "How Achievable?".
2, The alignment to purpose/direction/bigger picture could be assessed with the "R" for "Really-make-a-difference-in-the-direction-we-are-going?".

The A

An achievableness on a scale of 1-5, from improbable to highly probable ... we get a sense of how much risk the individual, team or group is willing to tolerate/try move through. Often it's okay (great!) to "try" for an easy win with a 4-5 level of confidence. Sometimes it is better, for learning or even to save the company, to try for something harder to do (with a friend, coach or mentor especially to support!) in the 2-3 range. So many "it depends", so little time to elaborate experiences here! :)

The quantification of achievableness is important when considering the alignment of this objective/goal to the purpose of the individual, team or group. Sometimes we could do the easy thing which is highly certain, we are confident in our capability to achieve it, and it will have no,  negligible or insufficient impact on achieving our purpose.

Such highly certain successful outcomes could be a waste of the one thing we always run out of, that no money or anything else in this world can get more of: time.

Using the R to confirm that we're aligned with purpose is really useful. Yet being aligned with purpose could expose us to a context, circumstance, super-ego, mindset or organisation "change anti-bodies" - "historical baggage" often - that do not really make it easy for us to align our efforts to our purpose and pursue that wholeheartedly. And it's good to reflect on this before, during and after - there is so much growth possible by understanding this "stuff" deeply!

The R

Reality. Realisation. Becoming real. That which is real. Turning deep desires (especially one's purpose) described by abstract thoughts or ideas into abstract words and then into "real world". Something really shifted in me that day in 2018, and I don't know why or what the final effect will be. Essentially it was around my previous interpretation of "responsible person assigned".

I really believe something better can be done with the acronym here. I have seen "realistic" in many places in the past - as in "the goal/objective is achievable and realistic". Or "actionable and realistic".

Ensure Alignment To Personal Team or Group Purpose To Create And Unleash Huge Energy To Achieve Agreed SMART Outcomes
SMART Objectives Aligned To Team or Individual Purpose Creates A Desirable Tension Around Potential Which Then Unleashes Huge "Action" Energy To Achieve The Change In The Real World

What shifted for me that moment was that it could be better used as "really aligned to purpose". This is imho much stronger / more energetic / more focussed. For any objective or goal. And if its a tough thing to change, we absolutely need to believe we're going through the tough bit to get to a better place, else we will give up. And that defeatedness because of giving up can be a really worse place to land up.

With Specificness (as per my 2017 SMART update), it's easy to include the responsible person there as an attribute/quality that makes the change even more Specific. Similarly with tight "Measured by" criterion set that matches that Specificness.

OKR's (Objective, Key-Results) try to approach this slightly differently. But there is overlap that I guess I will draw out in the future when my thoughts and experiences are clearer.

Einstein apparently said something along the lines of - given an hour to solve a problem he'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem [in detail, in depth, from multiple perspectives, etc] and 5 minutes attempting to solve it. That way you'd be more certain which part of the problem your solution addresses well or not as well, and what other potential things you could change or try with another attempt later if need be. The solution matches the problem. Often - because it is in our nature, society and expectations from others - we solutionise too quickly and what we come up with may be good, but misses the original problem. A great shot that misses the just a great shot. Same time, same cost, same effort. Miss. Absolutely useless in the context that mattered before the shot was taken.

Thankyou! As always happy to hear your thoughts on the above! Be careful out there, AND don't be too serious - fun provides a lot of goodwill and positive energy to achieve goals!

A smarter SMART for even better collaborative Objectives (including OKRs)

My favourite coaching tools: SMART Acronym Another Update