Posts Tagged technology

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 Adds More Awesome to Hootlet with AutoSchedule – HootSuite Social Media Management


HootSuite / Hootlet has become one of my favorite tools to manage twitter accounts and my Facebook account and Facebook pages for myself and my clients.  I’ve tried many but this web based service seems to have the best of both words and I have come to expect it on all the machines I work on.

HootSuite Adds More Awesome to Hootlet with AutoSchedule

Post is in the News & Events Parent Category July 17, 2012 by Andy Au0

HootSuite adds more awesome to Hootlet with new features including AutoSchedule – a powerful new link share tool that determines the optimal time to schedule social media messaging. Now you can automatically queue messages throughout the day to maintain a consistent social media presence.

via HootSuite Adds More Awesome to Hootlet with AutoSchedule – HootSuite Social Media Management.

Hootlet – Time Saver

This Chrome extension is one of the first I add to any machine I work on.  It has saved me countless hours.  One of the new time savers is Auto-schedule feature.    When I’m pushing content to my to biggest twitter accounts try and space it out.  So you can imaging when you are pushing 20 updates the time management can get a bit tricky.  Now this is taken care of.   I have used it today and like it thus far.

Schedule Still Works

Now, if I’m managing a campaign for a client, I still manage the schedule manually.  I can release the updates to Twitter and Facebook based on the campaign we have designed.  This still remains so you don’t lose anything there.

Possible Improvements

Here are some ideas I would love to see in this new capability:

  • Load Balancing – As you put more updates in, they auto-adjust to spread out over time, maybe a range you give them.  9 to 5 or 7 to 7, don’t know.
  • More Automation – Since HootSuite is already watching, they should build in auto-responder capability.  That would be awesome.
  • 7 Drip Logic – Have a singe post/update  set for distribution X number of times.  The logic here is that a message doesn’t really sink in until it’s heard 7 times by the consumer.

So what do you think of the tool?  What other suggestions would you recommend to HootSuite.

Good Hunting!

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foursquare Social Media Ignorance


Image representing Foursquare as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

So tell me what’s wrong with this picture.  I got this email today:

Hi Tim,

If you’ve opened up foursquare in the last couple weeks you’ve probably noticed that we made a ton of changes. We re-imagined the entire app, Extreme Makeover style, to make it even easier for you and your friends to share and save your experiences and find new places to go. We also gave it plenty of design love and under-the-hood tweaks, so it’s not only prettier but faster than ever – hurrah!

Usage Ignorance

Anyone who has me as a friend in foursquare or see’s my Facebook stream knows I use foursquare a lot.  The question is, why doesn’t foursquare know this?  How can I get an email making it seem like I need to be reminded that the screens have changed, the navigation is different, more map features added, and more?  So why is a social media company incapable of using their own data to enhance my relationship?  Why not make me feel special rather then a member of their junk mail list?

Lessons for  Small Business

Even the big boys don’t get it right.  So don’t ever think that you should not try because some major player in your space can always do it better and faster then you.  Often, small business has more chances to beat the larger players at their own game because small business can be more nimble.

So my advice, don’t count out social media in your marketing plan!

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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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Google+ Local: Taking over Places?


English: Google+ wordmark

Mobile + Social Saturation

Here are some key things to remember when thinking about this topic.  The saturation level for smart phones is on the rise is all areas of the world.  In many parts of the word, people own more smart phones then PC’s in their households.  Phone books are becoming museum pieces (and catalogs are not far to follow).  I believe there is a big push in the industry to move consumers to tablet computing, making the desktop and laptop less dominant is the purchasing process.  Now with all that said, let’s look at the new shifts that are right in front of us.

Leverage Equals Change

Companies are working hard to get their data in the hands of mobile users.  Google consolidation or leveraging of applications and data into the Google+ platform is no different.  Right now Google+ is also providing mobile apps to access this information.  In my opinion, Google+ has been doing a better job then Facebook in this area.  It is yet to be seen if this latest change can be classified as an improvement, but Google’s actions are consistent with their past performance in removing older apps in place of newer ones.  For instance, we are seeing similar work being done to fold the Orkut users (still a large user base in Latin American countries)  into the Google+ platform so another app could be retired.

Lessons Learned

So what can we learn from this turmoil and churn in the social media and mobile space?  Below I have some thoughts for you to consider.  They all focus on the fact that life cycle of applications and the data of those applications are extremely volatile and need to treated as such.

Stay Flexible

Let’s face the facts, we are not talking about Yellow Page ads were we talk to a sales rep once a year and then mark in our calendars to review the purchase plan 11 months out.  We have to take a Guerrilla Marketing approach to this area of our marketing plans.  Be willing to invest in something, and leave it alone and move on if the situation changes.  Never holding on to something more then is absolutely necessarily.  Always attacking the mind of the consumer where ever it is found, and when gone, move on.  There is a reason why we are talking about Facebook and Google+ right now, and not MySpace, AOL, or Prodigy.

Be Vigilant

Stay on top of the trends.  Notice where your battle field (the mind of the consumer) is.  If the consumer moves to a new area, be aware of the change.  Stay on top of your stats.  If you start seeing a drop, find out why.  Never stop reading about what is happening in the mobile space.  Pay attention to the mobile app scene.  If this seems to much, then hire someone to do it for you.  Find an agency that will keep you in the right place so you can keep attacking the mind of the consumer.

Act Quickly

Back to the Guerrilla Marketing theme,  move into the space quickly.  Move out just as quickly.  Take over the areas you can master as fast as you can so you reap the rewards of being first, when the benefits begin to lose to the increasing costs, evaluate your position and consider making changes quickly.  Are you sensing the quick theme here.

The enemy advances, we retreat.  The enemy camps, we harass.  The enemy tires, we attack.  The enemy retreats, we pursue. – Mao Tse-Tung

Wrap Up

So for right now, you should be using both Google Places and Google+ Local (i.e. Pages) to drive people to your business or service.  Google is using both in search engine results, and I have evidence they are giving preferential scoring to them.

Would love to read your thoughts on this.  Please leave a comment.

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