MindJet Diary: Dymamic Display of Data from Excel

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We’ve been using MindManager to create weekly and monthly reports (status update and accomplishments maps), which we find to be a better format than PPP and  Excel dashboards.   The Excel Range function that we recently discovered is extremely helpful.  It allows us to display selected data from a parent spreadsheet residing in SharePoint on the map by creating a dynamic display.  This eliminates duplicate data entry – once a parent spreadsheet is updated, data in the spreadsheet within the map is updated automatically and there is no need to update data in the map manually.  This saves us a lot of time and helps in prevening errors that come from double entry.  We’ve been very excited about this function.

There was a problem though – a person who doesn’t have access to a parent spreadsheet will not be able to see data on the map.   I called MindJet CS and was delighted to find out that you can actually break a link to a parent spreadsheet, which in turn will convert the datasheet on the map to a static form.   It is  very easy – just right click on an Excel icon shown on a map’s spreadsheet and select Disconnect from Microsoft Excel.   Problem solved! 😎

Idea Mapping Workshop in Palm Beach

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Fall 09 - Idea Mapping Workshop 038Last week, an Idea Mapping workshop took place in the Palm Beach Hotel, a nostalgic establishment from the Gilded Age that is still quite charming and awfully affordable considering its location.  It was great to see old friends and meet new people, all united by deep interest in the Idea Mapping and inspired by the Idea Mapping guru Jamie Nast

The fact that the four Certified Idea Mapping Instructors (CIMI) attended the workshop is a proof that the workshop has a lot to offer, even to seasoned instructors. For me personally, the workshop was an excellent review of the material and helped raising my confidence level as a new instructor.  This is the third workshop I attended, and every time I was able to learn something new. Another great benefit of retuning is that we get a chance to network with like-minded people and learn from each other. I hope that we’ll continue this wonderful tradition.

I’ve been impressed with the caliber of first-time workshop participants.  They come from all walks of life – business people, entrepreneurs, academia, aviation, education, information management, etc. Like myself, they all seek new and better ways of improving their business and personal life, and they turn to Idea Mapping as a universal whole-brain learning and thinking tool to achieve new level of success. 

We were very fortunate to meet Vanda North and Richard Israel who gave us a snick pick into their new global initiative Mind Chi (I’ll share more on Mind Chi in my next post).

On the last day, Jamie led us, CIMIs, through instructions on how to build and maintain a successful blog. She deserves a lot of credit for creating a worldwide viral network of Idea Mapping enthusiasts using popular social networking sites.  And this is just the beginning!

Summer Time and the Mapping is Easy (or getting easier…)

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We’ve been very busy and made significant breakthroughs since my last post in April.   Although it is hard to measure scientifically, I see a direct correlation between the team’s participation in the Idea Mapping workshop and the explosion of new ideas.  Just between January and July, we’ve developed and released two conceptually new services transforming the way we research and present information.  We are also transforming the way we communicate.  I already wrote about map meetings in the past.  We took collaboration a step further and now we report our weekly accomplishments together, in a single map.

It’s always been my intention to use idea maps and visualization in the library’s information research and distribution activities.  We haven’t figured it out yet how to best use MindManager to do that, but we’ve been experimenting.   For example, attached is a map created by Prakash Doraswamy, who attempted to capture key ideas from literature review and analysis he is doing for the health care reform.

I hope you are enjoying the summer time.  I’ll be in Russia most of August and will resume writing when I come back. Developments in U.S. Healthcare Reforms-small

MindJet Diary: From Net Meetings to Map Meetings

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We are a global team.  For years, we’ve depended on MeetingPlace or NetMeeting as standard communication tools enabling us to connect and work together in a virtual space during our weekly team meetings.  In the past few weeks, we are taking our meetings to the next level with the help of the idea mapping method and MindJet. 

As a collaboration tool, remote meetings have many disadvantages.  The risk of misunderstanding increases when you have more than a dozen of people from different countries attending a call. You cannot see your colleagues (you can, of course, with video conferencing technology, but we are not there yet).  Right there, you can miss a lot in terms of subtle communication including body language, facial expression, mood, worries, etc.  Even with well established and time-proven rules of meeting engagement that we’ve developed and implemented over the last 4 years, team collaboration and engagement during a traditional teleconference suffers the limitations that come with that medium.  Add to that the routine nature of the meetings and we can understand why some meetings are less than energizing and simply boring.  These are a few reasons why we’ve decided to enhance our meetings by using real time collaborative mapping as an alternative to net meetings.

We had a lot of fun creating a meeting agenda map template (scroll down to the March 7 post for details).  The map contest winner was Safique Hazarika, our Mumbai manager.  His map (see below) is now being officially used for our weekly staff meetings.  We all were very excited during the first map meeting and everybody was engaged in contributing comments, adding notes and – to my surprise – decisively rearranging branches and taking ownership of the map.  It was fun to see small icons of people with corresponding names moving around the map IN REAL TIME.  Even if you cannot see faces, there is an increased perception of personal presence that you get using this tool.  There is also a sense of stronger connection between team members.  In the following weeks, we’ve taken a few steps to make our map meetings more efficient (we all enjoyed that creative chaos of the first meetings but there is work to be done!).  Each week’s agenda items are added to that week’s map by team members prior to a meeting, with as many details as needed, including document attachments.  This material can be reviewed in advance of the meeting.  To avoid multiplication of notes taking during a meeting, we’ve decided to designate a single person to add notes to the map as discussions take place. Each person can add his or her notes if he or she feels that not all important points were captured by a designated notes taker.  We want the process to be flexible but not too distractive.  We keep meeting maps in the MindJet Connect folder that everyone can access at any time.  It is hard to say at this early stage whether or not real time map meetings will be a much better alternative to traditional net meetings in terms of increased effectiveness and better results, but we’ve already seen a few benefits including:

  • increased team members’ engagement
  • heightened sense of connection with colleagues
  • breaking routine – we feel energized and have fun

These are intangibles that are hard, if not impossible,  to measure.  But we all know how important they are for building stronger teams.

“Idea Mapping” in Russian

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I was thrilled to learn that Jamie Nast’s book “Idea Mapping” was translated into Russian.  OZON.ru, one of the most popular online booksellers in Russia that is using business model similar to Amazon.com (they even sound similar, or almost similar, don’t you think?), posted a customer review that I thought had failed to do the book justice.  After reviewing a Russian copy of the book, which in my opinion was very well translated, I wrote and posted my review (text below) giving the book – with a glee – 5 stars that it deserves.


 Книга очень полезная.  Я не согласна с автором предыдущего отзыва, что «вся книжка – авторская самореклама».  Я знаю Джейми больше пяти лет (я участвовала в её семинарах) и могу из собственного опыта подтвердить, что синдромом самопродвижения она не страдает.  Напротив, Джейми использует свою энергию и признание, как ведущий авторитет в этой области, на то, чтобы помочь людям овладеть навыками визуализации мыслей и идей и улучшить их работоспособность.

Я ознакомилась с русским переводом книги после прочтения оригинального издания и мне кажется, что, не смотря на хороший перевод и соответствие оригиналу, не всё поддаётся дословному переводу. Например, idea mapping в переводе на русский дословно звучит как картирование идей, и для меня это звучит довольно странно и не органично, чего нельзя сказать о терминологии в английском варианте.  Я допускаю, что подобные лингвистические нюансы могут привести к не совсем полному пониманию задачи поставленной книгой.

Визуализация мыслей и идей с помощью схем и карт не является достижением нашей эпохи, уходя корнями в историю.  В современном мире заслуга разработки теории ментальных карт принадлежит Тони Бьюзену.  Заслуга Джейми заключается в том, что она упростила метод и правила лежащие в основе теории Бьюзена, давая «ментальным картографам» больше творческой свободы и возможности самовыражения.  Такой подход делает книгу незаменимым практическим руководством для всех тех, кто ищет новые пути по улучшению своих умственных способностей, развитию памяти и повышению продуктивности и успеха в делах.

Особенность ментальных карт заключается в том, что они отражают естественную работу мозга, в частности его ассоциативную природу.  С помощью ключевых слов, простых рисунков и разноцветных маркеров, ментальные карты помогают систематизировать мысли и придумывать новые идеи.  Успех многих компаний и бизнесов во многом зависит от творческого потенциала работников и служащих.  Система Джейми помогает развить и увеличить творческую активность и изобретательность людей, и потому её семинары пользуются большой популярностью в корпорациях, учебных заведениях и среди частных лиц. 

Книга преподносит материал с элегантной простотой, что нельзя путать с упрощённостью, используя многочислкнные примеры и иллюстрации. Большим достоинством книги является то, что Джейми делится с читателями образцами карт созданными людьми из разных сфер деятельности, давая возможность начинающим «картографам» ознакомиться с реальным применением этого метода в разных жизненных ситуациях.  Конечно, надеятся, что читатель мгновенно поумнеет после прочтения книги, это наивно.  Как любой инструмент, этот метод требует практики, и книга Джейми послужит вам хорошим путеводителем.


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