Posts Tagged process

Mind Mapping: Online Collaboration Tool


Note: This guest post by Richard Egan has a focus on education but the principles covered can easily be translated into other settings.   Collaborative tools like MindMeister are powerful ways to bring people and their ideas together.

Online Collaboration

Online collaboration has become very popular in both education and business. We now have the ability to easily and freely share all file types using different cloud based platforms.  People working collectively on a project or assignment no longer need to be in the same room or even in the same country for that matter.

Collaborative platforms have enabled educators to create online learning environments where students can benefit from sharing ideas and communicating with each other, their mentors and external organizations.

Mind Mapping and Online Collaboration

Mind maps are an excellent method for individuals to graphically represent and structure ideas or thoughts. It is a very valuable tool which can be used for project management, creating to-do lists, idea generation, planning articles or papers.

Mind mapping can be implemented for collaborating and brainstorming, it gives students a platform to work simultaneously and a facility for learning together. Introducing mind mapping to students is a great way to encourage group participation and when managed properly will generate great results.

Benefits of Collaborative Tools:

  • Easier project management
  • More informed decision making
  • Promotes critical thinking
  • Meetings and brainstorming sessions conducted remotely
  • Develop new skills for a business environment
  • Files stored in one place i.e. no waiting for a document to be emailed
  • Improved communication between students, lecturers and research groups

Collaboration: Mind Mapping Uses

Using mind mapping for collaboration presents students with the opportunity to share ideas with peers and to think creatively through social inspiration. I have made a list of some of the situations where mind mapping can be used as a solution for online collaboration.

  • Managing group projects
  • Class assignments
  • Sharing lecture notes
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Study sessions
  • Group presentations

The video below is an example of multiple users collaborating on one map – they are creating an IKEA shopping list for their office. All changes to the mind map can be seen in real-time by all collaborators

Mind Mapping Example: Project Management

The next time you are assigned a group project in school or college I would encourage you to use a mind map from the beginning. To get started you can follow these easy steps:

  • Create a mind map with title of project
  • Invite all teams members to be collaborators
  • Have a brainstorming session with all collaborators

At this point you should have a map with many topics, ideas and tasks to be completed. The next step is to appoint a team leader who can:

  • Sort and structure all the information in the map
  • Delegate tasks, create deadlines and set reminders for each member

Once this has been completed you will have very quickly created a project plan and a great starting point for the project. In addition to this, create another mind map with all details of each team member i.e. contact details, to-do lists and daily schedules; it can then be linked to the main map. The purpose for this is that everyone can see what the other is doing, progress can be monitored and meetings can be easily scheduled to suit everyone.

Some of the mind mapping software providers also support smartphones and tablets meaning that members can literally participate whenever or wherever they may be!

Conclusion

Online collaboration is becoming ever more important and is being used by businesses all over the world to increase productivity and creativity. Following the principle that two brains are better than one many companies are taking advantage of new software being made available to them. Collaborating online has many benefits in education but it is also very important that students are prepared for such working environments after their studies.

New online collaborative tools are emerging every day with numerous platforms for saving and sharing files, conducting meetings and managing projects. Mind mapping is one such tool but with a bit of a difference, it is a visual tool. Not only can files be stored and shared on the cloud but you can also see and watch how the whole thought process evolved and how a conclusion was formed or how a plan was made. And because each collaborator can add to a mind map simultaneously no one person can dominate the direction or outcome!

This is a guest post created by Richard Egan, a mind mapping specialist at MindMeister — a leading provider of mind mapping solutions.

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HootSuite Extends Google+ Pages to All Users


This is a big deal for anyone that manages multiple pages across several social media platforms.  Up until now, adding content to your client’s Google Plus pages was an large extra step.  You couldn’t schedule them, so you had to use your calendar to remind you to update a campaign post.  Well that all changes now!

HootSuite Extends Google+ Pages to All Users

gplus header 600x300

HootSuite is pleased to announce that Google+ Pages is now available to nearly 5 million users worldwide!

Whether you’re on a Free, a Pro or an Enterprise plan, you’ll be able to efficiently manage Google+ Pages alongside other social channels, providing brands a better way to capitalize on the social power of this rapidly expanding social network.

To add Google+ Pages: Access your Profile from the side menu, then select + Add a Social Networkunder My Social Networks.

I know the HootSuite Pro account had this already, but it’s a nice add for the smaller companies still using the Free version of the tool.    Good Job HootSuite!

Good Hunting!

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Reclaim Your Time with the 1% : 99% Rule (Part 1 of 3)


Push Back: No Time

English: A Soccer ball. Svenska: En fotboll i ...

English: A Soccer ball. Svenska: En fotboll i vektorgrafik med genomskinlig bakgrund. futebol grego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I was coaching a new client on how to create new habbits associated with updating their web sites and other digital properties. To my surprise, this brought out a little push back about not having enough time to do some of the things this small business owner was being requested to do.    All I was asking from the client was to put some 30 minute a day items on his Google calendar to remind him to do certain things each day.

So this got me to thinking about how to create more time in our day.  As I was studying this problem, one of my old coaching sayings popped in my head.  I would explain to the  soccer players I coached, the game is “1% Ball – 99% Everything Else”.  When we first start out learning we tend to focus on the ball, not the “99% everything else” we should be.   The 1% is important, but if that’s all we focus on, then we miss all the rest.

Give me a few moments to explain how this works in business as I use this sports analogy.

Sports Analogy: Youth Soccer

I suggest if you want more time, you need to work on your fundamentals until they take up less time thus freeing up new time to do the more valuable things.  Let me explain how.

When we are training youth to play soccer we focus on the basics: trapping, passing, and dribbling.  These skills are not the most productive, but rather, because we need these to feel natural, almost second nature.  What we want to focus on are the advanced topics: Space, Positioning, Movement, Awareness, Placement, Possession, Finishing, and Defending.  In any given practice session, the more time we must spend on the basics, the less time we have to spend on the advanced, dare I say, more productive skills.

We can easily spot players who have mastered their fundamentals.  “Head-on-a Swivel” is a term coaches use when selecting new youth teams each season.  If we see a person who has their head up and focusing on the 99% of the game, we know they’ve mastered the 1% (at their level of play).

So we train on the fundamentals until they become so natural that we spend less and less time on them and more on the advanced topics I listed above.  Each season we expect growth in the advanced areas, and it is very noticeable when a player still challenged with the fundamentals is placed in a game with those that have mastered it.

Master your fundamentals.  This is what I am recommending you do in your business and private life!

Business Example: Calendar Management

Again, I suggest if you want more time, you need to work on your fundamentals until they take up less time thus freeing up new time to do the more valuable things.  Since I’m talking about time, let me explain buy using a time management tool you should be using, your calendar.

Let’s just imaging a person who spends 75% of their work hours making sure that the remaining 25% of their work hours are fine tuned to perfection.  I know this is hyperbole.  No sane person would do this.   But it brings up a valuable point.  The more time we spend on administrative tasks the less time we spend on value added tasks.

In this example,  if we can improve the administrative process and thus cut the 75% time spent in half, we gain 100% of productive time back.   Let’s say this person takes 30 minutes to figure out the best way to deal with a 30 minute meeting request, we would then focus on setting up a system that allows new meeting requests to flow more naturally and not take up as much administrative time to set and approve.

In the up-coming posts, we will break this down further for you.

More to Come

Part 2 – Technology Tools

In part two we talk  about technology and how it can be used to create new time in your schedule.  To drop a few names: IFTTT, DropBox, EverNote, G+ Hang-outs.

Part 3 – Action Items

In part three we talk about action items for you.  These will be broken down into two parts:

  1. Short Term Assignments
  2. Routines and Goals

Leave some comments and tell me what you think.

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Idea Selection


In my posts “Start, Stop, Continue” and “Exceptionalism: Focus on the Never” I talk about brainstorming techniques that help organizations choose new ideas to improve on their environment. In the above post, the author fivewhys,  gives us some other ways of selecting ideas.

Good Hunting

Five Whys

This is part 5 in my series on brainstorming techniques

We’ve covered a lot of ground in helping your groups create a lot of ideas. But what do you do with them all? And how do you make sure that the ones you leave behind really are dud ideas? There seem to be two main camps here

  • choose your favourite, based on gut feel
  • evaluate all ideas according to some fairly simple criteria

View original post 580 more words

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Make it Easy for Customers


The other day I was helping a new client plan out marketing materials for an upcoming event and asked if he was using QR Codes on all of his materials.  I explained that many people are now scanning them and then using them to do research or deal with retention issues associated with information overload.

The items in your QR Code should be:

  1. Direct link to the landing page for the event or product promoted at that event so the visitor doesn’t have to hunt down what they were interested in.
  2. Your phone number
  3. Your Email Address
  4. other pertinent information that you wanted stored in their contact list
    1. hours of operation
    2. Your name
    3. Your Address
    4. Other web sites you want them to know about (blogs, product micro sites, etc.)

Oh, and if the back of your business card isn’t already in use, put a QR Code there.  It shows you respect their time by having them avoid manually typing the data into their contact database.

Is It Important?

Well if  you don’t think this is important enough to add to your marketing material, maybe this article might change your mind:

Half of U.S. shoppers rely on phones for in-store research

Good Hunting!

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6 of Apples Greatest Mistakes


With all the ‘Steve Jobs‘ posts flooding the internet, this one caught my eye.  It is not a Apple bash piece but rather a great object lesson for those that get caught up in the “Aim, Aim, Aim, Ready, Aim, Aim, Fire” mode.

6 of Apples Greatest Mistakes

By Scott M. Fulton, III / October 6, 2011 2:03 PM

Apple III+ computer.

Image via Wikipedia

This is not an Apple-bashing piece. It is also not an attempt to cut an American icon down to size at a time when were remembering the magnificent contributions of its fallen founder. This is about how failure makes us better.Ive lost count of the number of times Ive heard, seen, or read comparisons of Steve Jobs to Thomas Edison since early yesterday evening. Jobs did not invent anything – not the personal computer, not the MP3 player, not the tablet. But besides that fact, there are certain other stark similarities. One: Jobs, like Edison, was a fierce competitor who sought to control not only the delivery channel for his products, but the market surrounding those products. Two: Like the finest scientist, Jobs studied his failures and Apples very carefully, and unlike Microsoft, built his next success upon the smoking ruins of his failures.More Steve Jobs Stories6 of Apples Greatest MistakesSteve Jobs Legacy In the Pantheon of Great American InnovatorsFrom Silicon Valley to Bahrain, the Web Mourns Steve JobsA Great User Experience: The Web Legacy of Steve JobsWhat Steve Meant Back ThenReaders will likely remind me that certain of the

via 6 of Apples Greatest Mistakes.

Marathon Not Sprint

As I mention in my “Failure is not a Title” post, we need to look at things as a long process that we learn from, a Marathon if you will, not a 100 yard dash.  Yes, the above mentioned items are on the bottom of some outhouse of ideas, but the industry learned from then and evolved into what we have today.

Good Hunting

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Make Some Magic


How many times do you find yourself in a slump.  We  need to shake off the old and create a new way of generating new ideas.  We need to make some magic, create some sparks, razzle and dazzle, have some fun!  When I read this post from Seth Godin it got me to thinking:

An end of magic

Arthur C. Clarke told us, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Head back to the 1800s with a Taser or a Prius or an iPad and the townsfolk will no doubt either burn you at the stake or worship you.

So many doors have been opened by technology in the last twenty years that the word “sufficiently” is being stretched. If it happens on a screen (Google automatically guessing what I want next, a social network knowing who my friends are before I tell them) we just assume it’s technology at work. Hard to even imagine magic here.

via Seth’s Blog: An end of magic.

How to Make the Magic

This is a fun exercise to take your team or department through.  You can read about the process in one my previous posts “Exceptionalism: Focus on the Never“.  But basically, take several idea lists you’ve created and follow the “Innovation Bonus Exercise” in the above post.  Then take some of those ideas and create you own little science fiction episode of “Stargete”, “Sanctuary”, or “Startrek” in which your team runs accross a civilazation with advanced technology like some of the crazy  items on your list and they now have to revewrse engenere it to gain the benefits of the new found technology.

You might be surprised how many of the way-out-there crazy ideas turn into actionable realistic projects for your team to investigate further.

It’s a fun off-site day, especially if you have a bunch of techie scifi geeks on your team!

Good Hunting!

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Look up!


I ran across this post at “Damn I Wish I Would Have Thought of That!” and thought it was worth sharing.  Sometimes the act of finding a new client is as simple as seeing there is an opportunity to help someone with their situation.

Look up!

May 15, 2011

Our neighbor had their gutters replaced yesterday.

Our gutters are (shamefully) falling off the house.

Why didn’t their gutter guy call us?

Your next customer is closer than you think — if you’re paying attention.

via Look up!.

Good Hunting.

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Flickr improves sharing options


In my weekly review of feeds concerning Web 2.0 and Web 3.0  I ran across the news that Flickr has improved their ability to share content with other sites.  As I continue to collect material for my “WEB 2.0 for Students” class that I’ll be teaching at our local college, this one hit home.  I use Flickr for my photo repository.  So it is nice to see new feature showing up in this service since I haven’t seen to many in the last year.

Flickr adds to sharing options, now easier to share photos across the Web

by Erez Zukerman on March 31, 2011 at 03:30 AM

It sure is nice to see some new developer action over at Flickr. The relatively slow-moving photo-sharing service has just announced a new sharing update, which consists of several new and easy ways to embed or link to your photos:

via Flickr adds to sharing options, now easier to share photos across the Web.

So the thought came to me that this is nice but what could be implemented to improve the experience:

  1. Photo comments made on Flickr would also be shown on the shared item in Facebook.
  2. Post comments made on the shared item would also be available on Flickr.
  3. Multiple authors – One pool.  One of the biggest problems I have with my clients.  Many photographers, one common pool to associate them with.

Either way, Flickr is a great tool to use to keep all your photos.  It’s worth a good look at if your in the market to implement such a capability.

Good Hunting.

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Ditch the Office: Next Week is National Telework Week


More than 35,000 companies and organizations have pledged to participate in the event. According to the official Telework Week Website, this would save an estimated $2,451,069 and more than 1,600 tons of pollutants from entering the atmosphere. Where these numbers come from is not entirely clear, but it stands to reason that fewer people commuting would help save money and reduce pollution to some extent.

National Telework Week is sponsored by Telework Exchange and Cisco, which makes telepresence and communication products, as well as other tools to facilate remote working.

via Ditch the Office: Next Week is National Telework Week.

To: Non-Teleworkers

I would suggest you spend some time understanding what it would take to perform your work outside the office.  As I would explain to past staffs, just because a weather day or some unplanned disaster occurred, project deadlines remain the same.  If you and your manager, or if you are the manager, haven’t spent enough time creating a work force that is flexible enough to handle the unique demands of performing all department requirements outside of the normal office space, you will find yourself in the awkward situation of losing value to the company.

Disaster Recovery Planning

OK, maybe it’s because my first job in a large IT organization was helping implement the annual remote disaster recovery test plans that I seem to gravitate to this fact.  I ask all my clients, if your office burned down this weekend, what you do on Monday.  Close shop?  Declare bankruptcy? Put everything on hold until you get a new office leased?  What about your paper records?  How about your leads?  How about your contracts in progress? Are you’re files stored off-site, and if so how long would it take to get them back and running at the new location?

These are all questions that should bring a leader or manager to the point of understanding how important teleworking can be to this scenario and their organization.

Improved Productivity

An important factor in improving your productivity is to design a work environment that helps you accomplish your work faster and smarter then your competition.  Well how about all the time you are not in the office?  Are you tied to a paper filing system … how could you change that? (Evernote.com)  Can your assistant and team members update file and get them to your quickly? (DropBox.com) Can your team, partners, and client see your calendar and plan accordingly?  (Google Calendar)  Can you conduct training sessions without having to be on-prem at the client’s location? (WebEx) Can you brainstorm with your team, partners, and clients regardless of their geographical location? (MindMeister.com)  Can you manage your To-Do list, or better yet, can your assistant manage your list for you? (Remember the Milk).

My guess the most difficult thing to change in your work space is the paper trails you live with.  You probably have become so accustomed to getting something in paper, working on it, then passing it on.  Reguardless, it is possible to go paperless.  It’s worth the time to implement also.

My Office

Over the past 10 years I have moved to a paperless process.  That is how I had to look at it.  I focused on the process, not the piece of paper or some other physical object.  Many of the web based applications I mentioned above I use today.  It allows me to complete my client requests while knowing that all the items I need are right at my fingertips.

So what have you done to make it possible to telework or telecomute?  I’d love to compare notes some time.

Good Hunting.

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