One of the unique features of MindGenius mind mapping software is it’s ability to analyse ideas according to categories and to restructure maps or views of those ideas automatically.  This feature is a great way of implementing the consensus workshop method electronically (see previous post on the consensus workshop method). 

The five steps of the consensus workshop (as developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs) method are:

  1. Set the context – introduce the focus question
  2. Brainstorm the ideas
  3. Cluster the ideas
  4. Name the idea clusters
  5. Review and action.

image Using MindGenius, the focus question become the central topic or idea.

 

 

 

What can we do to improve morale in our office ideas

 

 

The ideas are brainstormed, collected and consolidated as they are added to the map.

 

 

 

What can we do to improve morale in our office ideas analysisThe ideas are clustered using categories feature, available from the “Analyze” tab – you can use a default set provided or create your own category group.

 

 

 

From here, create a new map with the ideas clustered by selecting the “Create Category Map”.

What can we do to improve morale in our office - by Category unamed

Using this new map as a basis you can work to name the clusters.  Add the names by editing the level one topics.

As an alternative, once the cluster names are agreed, return to the original map – the one with the brainstormed ideas. From the “Analyze” tab, now select “Edit Categories”.  Amend the categories used in your map, replacing the original identifiers with the cluster names.  Once completed, select “Create Category Map” and this time the resulting cluster map contains the cluster names in the level one topics. 

What can we do to improve morale in our office -named clusters

imageYou could now go on to assign dates and resources to the ideas, creating a simple action plan. 

imageAs part of the documentation step, you can export the map to Excel or Word to provide an additional record of the workshop or to provide the basis for further definition.

 

You can try this for yourself using MindGenius by clicking this text or the image below and downloading a free trial.

free trial

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Bringing a group of people together to solve a problem or make a plan is a great idea, especially where that group needs to commit to act on the ideas they generate.  There is a simple, structured approach which will harness the group’s creativity and allow them to generate a range of ideas.  It is called the “Consensus Workshop”

The method has five steps:

  1. Set the context – introduce the focus question
  2. Brainstorm the ideas
  3. Cluster the ideas
  4. Name the idea clusters
  5. Review and action.

What focus q Setting the context states why the group has been gathered and what the situation is that requires their collective thinking.  The method to be followed is outlined together with a general idea of the outcome and products.  The focus question sets the boundaries for what exactly is to be discussed.

What brain

 

Next, ideas are brainstormed.  Begin with an individual brainstorm – each person works on their own making a list of their ideas.  Then the ideas are collected and reviewed by the whole group until a consolidated list is prepared, resolving duplicates and capturing new ideas prompted by the discussion.

 

What brain cluster 1

 

Third, the group reviews the list and identifies common threads or clusters. 

 

 

 

What brain cluster sortedThe ideas are gathered together into the clusters.  At this stage it is sufficient to merely group ideas together because they have something in common without defining exactly what the thread or cluster is.

 

 

What brain cluster named

 

Fourthly, now name the clusters.  Review the clusters and discuss what are the common threads. 

 

 

 

Express these as phrases or very short sentences.  These will form the big ideas or focused directions for the actions that may follow.

What brain cluster named 2

Finally, review what has been achieved and test the level of agreement and consensus.  Begin the discussion on what needs doing and by whom.  Form these ideas into an initial action plan for subsequent development.  Document the outputs.

Further reading:

The consensus workshop method was defined by the Institute for Cultural Affairs (ICA) and is explained, with examples, in the publication, The Workshop Book: From Individual Creativity to Group Action (ICA series), by R. Brian Stanfield. 

Internal control is the process an organisation follows to provide reasonable assurance of the reliability of its financial reporting, its operational effectiveness and efficiency and its overall compliance with laws and regulations. 

Taking its particular circumstances into account, the first step for an organisation is to define its ‘control environment’ – what are its values and ethics; what are its policies and practices; its management culture; organisational structure; the involvement of the Board and audit.

Using these as guide, the overall control objectives can be defined – taking into account the need to balance the need for control with efficiency.  A risk assessment provides further focus, identifying those risks the organisation wishes to reduce and is willing to devote resources to reducing.  This will identify the key business processes where controls are to be applied or assessed.

Internal controls follow two main strategies – preventive or detective.  The first attempts to prevent errors arising at all whilst the latter attempts to identify errors for correction “after the fact”.  Information systems (or applications) are integral to implementing an effective internal control environment as they provide many features for real time prevention and for logging and reporting of exceptions, rejections and reconciliation.  Mapping the controls onto business process maps and other documentation is also key and helps training and performance review.

The controls in place (or desired, if yet to be implemented) can be documented quite simply – process by process.  Such a list provides the checklist for a review of the health or maturity of the internal control regime in the organisation.

Defining and Assessing Internal Controls

Assessment of the control regime first identifies the critical processes and confirms the associated internal controls.  Each control is reviewed and any issues logged.  The risks indicated with each issue are be assessed and a decision taken on the response to the risk.  An action list will result which can form the delivery plan for the next phase of implementation of the control regime.

This summary is taken from a quick survey of what is available on the subject on the Internet.  It aims to pull out the key ideas of what is involved in defining internal controls.  Ideas such as reporting and monitoring – how do management know that the controls are working – also need to be considered in conjunction with this summary.

Free download. MindView Mind Mapping Software. The visual summary (above) was prepared using MindView and the full MindView map may be downloaded as a zip file by clicking the link: Defining and Assessing Internal Controls and saving the file.

 

 

A MindManager version of the map may be downloaded from either Biggerplate or Maps for That.

 

MindView Round Up

April 21, 2011

MV4-BE-Box-Front-medFor anyone interested in MindView and how the application can support you when devising strategy, planning projects or writing an article or report, here is a list of recent subjects covered, most recent first:

  • Managing a plan using task lists and timelines
  • Managing a plan with a Gantt chart
  • Managing a plan using MindView with MS Outlook
  • A simple planning procedure
  • Writing business reports
  • Meeting planning
  • Business continuity planning – crisis planning
  • Developing work procedures
  • Defining strategy and the action to implement it
  • Exporting mind maps to MS Excel.

To view the articles you can either click on the MindView “label” (not the Technorati tag) below this article or click on this link to list all the articles.

Free download. MindView Mind Mapping Software.

 

If you are interested to try MindView for free just click on the “free download” image here.

 

 

Context Organizer for MindManager can be used to create visual summaries of any document or web page – right from within MindManager (see: Context Organizer post).

Included within the add-in is an options dialogue that can be used to create summaries with more or less elements and whether selected elements are displayed expanded or not.

image The basic option to consider is the size and scope of the summary produced based on keywords- options for this are: total number of keywords to be included; defining how many keywords are to be considered as “top” keywords (the default is 3); how many keywords of lesser importance are to be included as “other” (this is set automatically, being the difference between the total and top keywords).

imageThe next group of options determine whether grouping branches are inserted into the map and whether these groups are to be displayed initial either expanded or collapsed.

The best way to explain what the different combinations of these options result in is to illustrate with a few examples.  Here a Wiki page on business analysis is used as the summarised article.

1. All Grouping Branches Selected, Expand Only “Top” Keywords

default context

 

default context map

2. All Grouping Branches Selected, Expand “Top” and “Other” Keywords

context expand other

 

context expand other map

3. No Context Branch Group – Summary and Keywords Connected Directly to the Central Topic

context no context 

 

context no context map

 4. Only “Summary” Branch Group Selected, No Keywords Expanded

context no headers

 

context no headers map

As you can see, this last set of options attaches all the keywords and the summary grouping branch directly to the central topic.  Depending on the topic layout options you have selected in MindManager (right map, tree, split tree and so on), the keyword topics will be displayed in the relevant map layout.  Here the layout is “Map” giving the basic mind map radiant layout. 

To learn more about Context Organizer for MindManager visit http://www.contextdiscovery.com/context-organizer-for-mindjet-mindmanager.aspx

 

In examining ideas on action planning for simple or small tasks, I’ve posted recently on how to manage the plans using Outlook and Project in conjunction with mind mapping software.  To draw this to a conclusion here are some ideas for using Word and Excel as well as the inbuilt timeline view within some mind mapping software (in this case MindView).

As before, the assumption is a quick planning exercise has identified what needs to be done and the tasks to achieve it.  These ideas have been captured, reviewed and refined as a map using software such as MindView.

Replace Garden Shed

Many people are comfortable working with simple lists.  The first thing we can do with a mind map entered into a mind mapping application is to use the outline view to create a simple list.

Replace Garden Shed outline

If the preference is to work with the list using MS Office, the map or outline may be exported to Word.  The advanced export dialogue will allow you to select which task attributes to export, such as start and end dates and completion status.

Replace Garden Shed Word

An option many people may prefer is to export to Excel.

Replace Garden Shed excel 

A final option, and perhaps one with a more unusual and appealing visual style, is to use the inbuilt timeline view.  This gives a good feel for the loading of tasks over time and is often received better by those not familiar or comfortable working with Gantt charts.

 

Replace Garden Shed timeline

The trick with timelines views is to filter or focus on just a few tasks at a time or the timeline gets to busy.  here the example just presents the key information for the garden shed project – the main delivery steps.  Sharing a timeline view is easily done using a PDF export or print.

 

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WikiSummarizer from Context Discovery is a web-based application that specialises in summarising Wikipedia articles.  Aimed at anyone who needs to learn, understand or write about topics, the application will benefit such diverse roles as researcher, student, writer, journalist and blogger.

“Summarization” is the process by which a piece of text, document or article is analysed to produce a list of keywords and the more significant text extracts associated with these keywords.image

 

 

 

The immediate benefit from a summary comes from a review of the keywords, giving the reader instant insight into the substance and meaning of the text.  Further review of the extracted sentences adds to this initial insight.

Wikipedia contains almost 4 million articles, I’m told.

WikiSummarizer has summarised almost all of these articles and holds them in a knowledge database that can be searched.  It is possible to enter a keyword and have WikiSummarizer return a list of potentially the most relevant articles.  Alternatively, one can use a keyword to find and select a Wikipedia article which is then presented in summary form in the browser.  In either instance, the summaries can be downloaded to either word processing or mind mind mapping applications for further review and editing.

To illustrate how WikiSummarizer works, the following screen shots follow the process of finding a summarised article and downloading it to Word and to Mind Manager. 

First let’s look for summarised articles on “project planning”.  As the keywords are entered, WikiSummarizer presents possible matches in a drop down list for selection.

Wiki search

Next, select the relevant item from the drop down list and search.  WikiSummarizer returns a list of summarised articles.

Wiki search result

To view a summary, click on the “Link Summary” link for the article of interest.  The summary is presented as a list of keywords, each of which has listed under it sentences most relevant to that keyword.  The list is expandable and collapsible to make reading easier.

Wiki search summary

You could print the summary from the browser or download it either as a Rich Text File (RTF) or MindJet MindManager file.

Wiki search summary rtf

image 

Although the technology demonstrated is aimed at Wikipedia it can work with other information sources such as a web site, SharePoint, corporate document repository and content management system.

To find out more visit the Context Discovery blog where you can see more examples.

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