Consulting Tipsproductivity tools

MindManager – a virtual, portable whiteboard

By December 4, 2008 No Comments

I promised in an earlier post that I would write about MindManager, one of my favorite productivity tools as a solo consultant. Today LinkedIn prompted me to do so.

How did it prompt me? I make it a point to check my network update page at least once a day. I find great information there from all my 1st degree connections. Joe Hoffman was there today and it showed me that he had a new blog post via the newly integrated Word Press application. I clicked through and read his post on Whiteboard – Changing Your World.

The basic message from Joe is that a whiteboard is a great engine for creativity, brainstorming, managing forecasts and ToDo lists and more. I agree.

But I am a solo entrepreneur and consultant and I am often not in my office, but rather out with clients or often stationary somewhere in between clients. What then?

Well, for me MindManager from Mindjet Corporation is the solution. MindJet describes MindManager this way – Mindjet’s technology for dynamic, visual thinking captures, arranges and relates free-form information in a multi-dimensional space. That is the first sentence from their overview on their website.

Since it’s visual, its best to visualize it by seeing some graphics. All MindMaps start with a blank slate.

Then you overtype the placeholder title with your own and then hit “insert” and voila a map begins to form.

You overtype again and repeat so it looks like this.

And see those “+” signs after each section header? Those indicate that there is information “hidden” beneath there. All you need do is click on one of them or tell MindManger to open all next level items. It might look like this.

For an individual, a department or a company this is a very empowering experience. As you brainstorm and add branches and sub-branches and branches below those, you can move items around by simply “grabbing” the branch from where it is to where you want it to be. So much better than cutting and pasting in the various Office programs.

One of the best benefits for me is it’s ability to organize various “bits” of information I have stored in all manner of other programs and on the web. I can attache Outlook contact records to an organization chart I have created for a company. I can attach pictures gleaned from their website. I can “hotlink” out to websites. I can insert or attach Word documents, PPT presentations and Excel Spreadsheets. In fact, with Snag-It, the tool I wrote about in the earlier post mentioned above, I can capture screen shots of anything from anywhere and attach them appropriately to the map.

Here is a list of the uses MindJet suggests you can use MindManager for and believe me it’s just scratching the service.

I use MindManager Pro 6.0. The latest version of the software is 8.0 and it has now introduced collaboration tools which extend this tool even further. I can’t do it justice in this post. Use the links above to check it out. They have some great videos.

Oh, one more thing, Joe Hoffman says that he needs one other tool to compliment his whiteboard,- a digital camera to capture items permanently before he erases them. You don’t need one with MindManager.

Maybe the best use is to facilitate a meeting. You can do it locally with a laptop and a projector in a conference room with everyone shouting out ideas. Capture them in real time, rearrange them as needed and later “collaborate online” or send the map to people via email or post it on the company Intranet in HTML.

You can also use MindManager to facilitate a remote concall. Load it up on your system and share your desktop with whatever your favorite share tool is – Webex, GoToMeeting, LiveMeeting, etc.

One last note – as well developed and as flexible tool as this is – you may not be surprised to learn that it’s pricey. It’s $349 for a new single user license.

I find it invaluable and well worth it. You can download free trials and decide that for yourself.