Posted by: pkab | 25 June 2008

All Over the Map


By: CJ Cornell

Chris CornellLone Ranger

I’m pondering one of the eternal questions: “If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, can you still view all the child branches?” The more important philosophical question is: “If I am the only one in my organization working with MindManager, then are the results of my work of any real value?”

For any given project, by default, I am the MindManager guru. Often, this means the mapping process is for my own personal projects, and the results end up being formatted or exported for others to see. It’s a lonely, one-way, process. I create; I export; I send. Then others read, comment and eventually respond. And of course then I have to incorporate into my map. Rinse and repeat.

Because I’m the “owner” of the map and the resident-expert it seems I am forever doomed to being the administrator of the map. Instead of conductor of a well-tuned orchestra, I am acting more like the record producer, where all the contributions are developed independently and it’s up to me to stitch them together into a single coherent melody. And the band members never really play together in the same room.

Of course this is all about collaboration. This month, the buzz is around the new version of MindManager and Mindjet Connect, enabling robust collaboration capabilities. “Enabling collaboration” is an understatement, Mindjet Connect is a quantum leap in new features such as real-time map co-editing and instant meetings— true document collaboration in a project workspace.

Others in this newsletter will write about specific new functionalities and their experiences using the collaboration features, focusing on the “how;” I’d like to talk more about the “why.”

Lone Ranger versus The A-Team

Being the Lone Ranger has its limits of course, and few of us are in a position— or in an organization— working all alone. Most organizations and projects operate like the old TV show “The A-Team” where each individual has a unique skill set and a vital role in the entire project. At the center is a leader who coordinates the contributions and talents of the others against the core strategy.

Not until I played with the newest version of MindManager and Mindjet Connect did I truly understand what we were missing. Truly, it was like going from playing basketball all alone, to playing on a team. The game is now entirely different.

Instead of parceling out sections of a project to different contributors, waiting, collecting information, integrating, then distributing a map or document for yet another iteration, there is now one central map from which all contributions can be made real-time, and the effects of their work can be seen throughout the entire project. No one is needed any longer to stitch together components or to reformat and distribute the master document, it is always there for all to see.

Butterfly Effect

Mindjet Connect was engineered specifically to enable robust collaboration, yet there are even broader and more important benefits:

  • Distributing the amount of personal effort required. Collaborating is one thing, but the new feature set actually saves a ton of personal time, from eliminating the need to integrate disparate contributions, to the subtle time-wasters of having to redistribute map-iterations and wait for feedback until the next iteration.
  • Expanding the influence and use of MindManager within the organization. For many of us, the mapping process was largely one-way, such as, my masterpiece of a map and its exported incarnations were read by my colleagues, but they were never really part of the creation process; thus their level of emotional and intellectual buy-in was much lower than mine. When all stakeholders have actual control over the product while is it being developed, then they have more buy-in. It’s their document now, too.
  • For those people who are NOT using MindManager (or those not very adept at using MindManager), creating, modifying or even reviewing a robust map can be intimidating and overwhelming. Mindjet Connect jumpstarts this process for the new or non-user, allowing them to participate in a larger, more complex project while only having to worry about editing a smaller and simpler component.

Unless someone is already a mapping enthusiast, I have found that the barrier to learning MindManager is pretty high. For most non-users who dive in cold, it’s even more daunting if their first project is a real robust map (as opposed to a practice map). Mindjet Connect provides these users with a toe-in-the water route, allowing them to contribute with simple start, while able to observe broader results.

Many who have been testing Mindjet Connect will be raving about the collaboration benefits, particularly when collaborating with experienced mappers. For me, I predict the biggest benefit will be attracting and engaging with non-mappers, thus broadening the appeal and user-base of MindManager. And that will benefit all of us.

Happy Mapping!

PS – back episodes of “The A-Team” can be viewed, for free, at http://www.hulu.com/the-a-team.


CJ Cornell is a veteran consumer media and technology executive, author and member of Silicom Ventures, LLC, one of the largest Angel/Venture funds in the US, lectures at universities on venture capital and entrepreneurship, and sits on the board of four high-tech companies. He also moderates a MindManager Users Forum where members share insights on the deeper or broader issues on mapping: http://mindmappers.ning.com.

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