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.

 

 

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In previous posts I introduced an approach to defining strategy and the action plan that will implement it.  See:

The approach lends itself particularly well to group work in workshops.  Prior to the workshop, individuals or teams each prepare their part of the vision and some initial ideas of what needs to done over a given time period. 

They arrive at a working draft by progressing through a number of stages:

  • answering focus questions
  • identifying key directions
  • entering the details of their emerging vision on a template
  • entering their ideas for an action timetable on another template
  • transferring the template entries to flip charts ready for the workshop.

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One idea for a workshop is to invite other managers and experts to help the teams review their initial ideas. 

Vision EGTimetable eg

 

The pre-prepared flip charts are posted up and everyone encouraged to walk around, understand the content and ask questions. 

 

 

 

New ideas can be logged directly on the flip charts or as PostIts.  This might be broken down into simple steps:

  • Walk around, read and understand the flip charts
  • Ask questions, make challenges and suggest ideas
  • Further review of the annotated vision and timetable
  • Consolidate any cross-team components such as overall headcount, costs and benefits
  • Finish with an open session to identify next actions.

 

Following on from the previous Strategy Into Action post, here is a worked example to illustrate the process in a little more detail.

The process is broken down into two major stages:image

 

 

Action Framework – sets the overall strategic aim and the subsidiary aims that will provide focus and direction (“Focused Directions”). It also considers the obstacles that may be encountered and allows for the end situation to be described to help recognise success when it is achieved – this is called the "Practical Vision".

Action Timetable – the critical part for getting things moving. Taking the information from the Action Framework, this stage identifies owners for the Focused Directions. Actions are identified and assessed against the Focused Directions to confirm they are worth doing and will contribute to the overall strategy. Confirmed actions are also scheduled against a simple timetable: now; in the next 3 months; 6 months; 9 months; next year. A simple schedule of high level actions is produced.

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In the original post, 5 questions were introduced, which if answered, would lead to an a first pass strategy and action plan. 

Responses to questions 1-4 may be structured using the Action Framework stage. Answering question 5 provides the list of actions that are defined further in the Action Framework stage.

 

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imageIn the example here, managers have considered what is needed for the future of their organisation’s Internet service and arrived at the Action Framework illustrated.

  

Next, they moved to the Action Timetable stage and listed and defined actions, paying particular attention to the "obstacles" they need to overcome and the things they need to do to achieve the "practical vision".

   

 

imageThe actions have been mapped to the relevant "direction" – the directions now providing useful streams of activity. Each of these was assigned an owner for delivery.

The actions were also scheduled against the broad timetable: now; next 3 months; and so on.

       

 

 

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As you can see from the illustrations, all of this was captured and refined using a software tool, in this case MindView Business Edition from MatchWare. Using a tool such as this an outline report of the work can be created by exporting the analysis and planning to MS Word.

   

 

 

To better understand the schedule of actions we can use MindView to create either a timeline view or a Gantt view. These provide a better view of what is going to be done when. Additional work may amend the schedule and break down the actions into more detailed tasks. This may be done using the Gantt feature of the software or the data may be exported to MS Project.

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Strategy Into Action

September 3, 2010

Everyone will tell you that you need a strategy for your business or department – and they are right.  Whether it is “grand” strategy that establishes the direction for your business overall or whether it is a “tactical” strategy designed to effect more specific changes, it’s a good idea to know where you are going and what it will look like when you arrive.

But many strategies fail to deliver.  There are many reasons for this – one being a failure to turn the big ideas into actions that people can work on.  Sometimes there is a plan but it is too grand and too long in the preparation – by the time the actions actually get started the world has changed and they plan doesn’t seem relevant any more.  Or there is a strategy but no clear idea of the directions to follow, no one is responsible and and no obvious place to start.  The momentum generated by the “strategic” thinking soon dissipates.

With just 5 questions it is possible in the space of a few hours to generate a robust action plan that will get you moving on achieving your strategy.  You can do this on your own or with your team, in a meeting or workshop, and with or without a facilitator.

Question 1     What is our focus?

Question 2     What are the key directions we should take?

Question 3     What are the obstacles that are blocking us?

Question 4     What to do to remove the obstacles and achieve what we want?

Question 5     What are the immediate, practical actions we can take?

The focus question defines the overall goal and scope – you might already know the answer and just need to restate it.  The key directions are the themes or areas that if followed will lead to the goal.  The obstacles are the constraints, the blockers that will defeat the plan if not addressed – some of the actions will be focussed on overcoming these.  Other actions will address new things that need to be created or delivered.  Consideration of these should be focussed on short term or very short term timescales – what can we do today, tomorrow, this week, this month that get us following the key directions.  Medium and longer term actions can be logged but will most likely be consider later.  Assign ownership to the key themes and the actions.  Document it all – preferably on a single sheet of paper (see the example). Get started.

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In just a few hours you have an action plan.  It won’t be perfect nor will it be complete.  But it will provide a basis on which to move forward.  New or missing actions can be added as each action is completed.  Keep the plan alive, review it regularly, keep adding the next actions that come to mind.

Acknowledgement: The format of the action plan was suggested by examples using the ToP Participatory Strategic Planning method designed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA).