Wednesday, 17 December 2008

bCisive 2.0 Released

The latest version of bCisive has just been announced - the following from Austhink, the supplier:


Austhink is very pleased to announce the release of bCisive 2.0, our tool for helping address key business challenges effectively, enhancing analysis and communication across your team and achieving better business performance through better thinking.

bCisive 2.0 offers a redesigned, more comprehensive Building Panel, giving an improved user experience and making it even easier to get started. The new version also allows you to:

  • Save time developing slide shows with the new in-product Presentation and export to PowerPoint features 
  • Present complex arguments more rigorously using new co-premise capability for grouping statements that rely on each other to hold
  • Find and fix typing errors with the Spell Check

Download bCisive 2.0 for a free evaluation now

Explore bCisive 2.0 for assistance to:

  • Explore options and make confident decisions: lay out all the options and drill down into the implications, achieve consensus more easily, and arrive at the best decision.
  • Test hypotheses: assess a situation, identify competing hypotheses, and quickly zero-in on the most likely cause.
  • Analyze reasoning: develop your logic and convince your colleagues to support and adopt your proposal.
  • Capture discussion: keep meetings on track, capture and record each team member’s perspective, and build shared understanding. Save time and improve efficiency.
  • Organize ideas: structure your thinking, identify patterns and formulate an effective plan.
  • Present your case: make compelling presentations quickly and easily with the intuitive Presentation feature.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Comic Book Style Presentation

Graphic story telling has long been popular with children (and adults), whether the output be labelled as comics, graphic novels or Japanese manga.  It is increasingly being used in education, both as a means of presenting information to students and also by the students themselves as a means of reinforcing what they have been taught.  The students also use graphic story telling as a format for completing and presenting projects. 

depressioncomicThe sample here, by my daughter, describes the weather one might experience as a low pressure system (depression) tracks across the UK.


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Decision Trees Using Argument Mapping

image As a variation on a theme, try argument mapping process logic (is that a good sentence?).  The bCisive tool is not only great for mapping arguments, it works well for decision trees.  And for my money, it is so much more visual than a typical flow chart.  See my example at the bCisive Hive here.

bCisiveFor a comparison between diagramming techniques see this introduction at the Austhink website.


Saturday, 4 October 2008

More on Mind Manager Export to Word

Exporting to Word has been both a strength and a weakness of MindManager.  MindManager does a good job exporting the topics and notes, creating a hierarchical document structure based on the topic levels in the map.  However getting the formatting right without further editing in Word is less than intuitive.

A couple of preparatory steps and some mapping guidelines can be followed to ensure better results - first time. 

In summary:

1. Design and create a Word template before you map image

  • Edit the key Word styles such as Heading 1, Heading 2, Body Text
  • Think of a hierarchical document structure based on these styles
  • Create a simple one page document using all the required styles and following your hierarchy
  • Save this as a Word template.

2. Create a simple MindManager map and export it using your templateimage

  • Just one branch will do as long as it contains all the levels in your Word hierarchy
  • From the export options, make sure you select the template created in the first step
  • Export the map
  • Review the document and edit the additional styles created by the MindManager export - these all begin with MM such as MM Topic 1, MM Topic 2
  • Save this document as a new Word template

3. Now create the map with your actual product and export

  • Now start work on the map you are using to create your document, report or presentation
  • When ready, review the map and ensure the topic levels conform to the document hierarchy you created in your second Word template
  • Export the map, ensuring you use the second Word template - ensure you match the topic levels to the MM topics in this template - NOT the default Word topics such as Heading 1 and so on
  • Complete the export and review the Word document for any final formatting.

imageThis is all described in more detail in a map, which you can download here.  It also contains sample templates.  When you develop a template you like, it can be used over and over again - the first two steps above can be omitted.


I'm working on a more complete map covering Word styles for notes, relationships and attachments that will be posted soon.


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Sunday, 28 September 2008

Update to Requirements Mapping with Mind Manager

For more on mapping software requirements and integration between MindManager and RTime - QAvantage's requirements life cycle management tool - see Brian S Friedlander's post.  The post include and interview with Robert Chenal, author of the white paper published in my last post.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Mind Mapping Software Requirements

imageRobert Chenal of QAvantage has written a thought provoking white paper on the use of mind mapping software for defining, documenting and communicating software requirements.  Robert recommends software such as Mind Manager to capture and manipulate requirements, even to the extent of "reverse mapping" requirements from Word documents.  Robert's paper goes on to discuss improving:

• requirements quality
• collaboration and communication of requirements
• requirement traceability.

The greatest benefit has to be the opportunities to present, discuss and amend requirements visually.  Many of us will be familiar with key users being switched off when asked to spend several hours working through rather dry lists of requirements.  Here are some ideas to save time, communicate clearly and add a little more stimulation to the process.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Meeting Magic Tips for Virtual Meetings

A recent email newsletter from Meeting Magic contained a link to a list of tips for virtual meetings.  The author,  Steve Apps, talks about the importance of contacting the participants before the meeting and of checking that the technology works (and you know how to make it work). 

An interesting observation about virtual meetings once underway is that we tend to be less patient than when talking face to face.  Steve recommends that virtual meetings should be kept short.  My own experience also suggests that participants be asked to speak in headlines only - detailed explanations and discussion can take place offline.

If you are interested to see all 10 tips then visit the Meeting Magic web site by clicking here.

Effective Meetings Post by Jamie Nast

Jamie has posted a map of mine on her Idea Mapping blog, outlining how to plan for effective meetings.  You can see the post here.


If you are a MindManager user you can download and expand the full map here.

Friday, 15 August 2008

A Visual Language for Business Decision Making

image Earlier this week I spoke to Tim Van Gelder of Austhink to understand more about business decision mapping and the bCisive tool.  Tim is a cognitive scientist, an Associate Professor (Principal Fellow) in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, Australia and CEO of Austhink, the software developers of bCisive (You can read more about Tim on Wikipedia here).

For many years, Tim  has been developing and evaluating an approach to improving reasoning and critical thinking skills, known variously as The Reason Method, and LAMP ("Lots of Argument Mapping Practice").  Out of this has developed a specific application for business called business decision mapping.

image The philosophy of business decision mapping is based on study of the way in which people make decisions. Either as individuals or in groups we prefer to deliberate, debate and weigh arguments.

Most people will be familiar with the matrix method supporting business decisions. A list of criteria are weighted and scored, often using a spreadsheet. The totals are compared to identify a winner.  Yet this doesn't always end the process. What often follows is a discussion as people express their surprise at the result and begin to debate its pros and cons. This can lead to the options being reviewed again, outside of the matrix, and it is this conversation that benefits from direction, capture and subsequent communication. Instead of providing the basis for the decision, the spreadsheet and other data are relegated to a supporting role for specific points of argument.

As will be familiar to readers of this blog, mapping decisions using a visual language takes advantage of our ability to grasp and make sense of information faster and more easily when it is graphically presented.

bCisive BeesbCisive can be used to direct people down a formal yet flexible path. As a software tool that focuses on the specific activity of decision making, it removes the clutter encountered when using generic tools and provides direct support for decision mapping.

Business decision mapping provides a common notation or language with which to capture the considerations and the conversation that flows around a decision. bCisive presents this notation and an environment in which to use it.

For more on business decision mapping see the bCisive introduction to the topic here. Also have a look at the slide show here.

BCisive can be explored using a free download trial and can be purchased at a hugely discounted price of USD$149 (normal price USD$349) until Monday 18th August. Hurry, hurry, hurry.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Progress, not perfection, is the goal ......

A post by Chuck Frey this week really struck a chord.  Often progress on a project is difficult.  There is much uncertainty at the beginning and many involved are reluctant to get stuck in because the final product is not defined completely.  However those charged with defining the product are struggling to do so because they just don't know enough or are not sufficiently confident to commit themselves.  Perfection becomes the enemy of the good.

A way of breaking through this impasse is "successive approximation" or iterative development if you prefer.  Chuck quotes the author of a new book, Dave Gray:

“If you wait until your plan is complete – till every contingency is covered – you will never get anywhere. Progress, not perfection, is the goal… Build feedback loops into your execution mechanisms, so you can improve as you move… (Use) feedback… to enrich your thinking and improve your understanding of the situation.  Feedback is the most important and often neglected piece of the puzzle. When you first contextualize, you are guessing. When you incorporate feedback and use it to re-contextualize, you are improving… Success does not come from perfect execution, but from a fast-moving cycle of continuous improvement. The faster you go, the more you learn. The more you learn, the stronger you get.”

This is where visual mapping can really score.  Put the ideas down on paper, get people talking about them, capture the feedback and revise the map.  Keep going this way until clarity and definition take shape.

Chuck explains this very well - check out his post How to use successive approximation to improve your visual maps.

And also check out Dave Gray's book, Marks and Meaning.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

No Time To Think?

An interesting article on the BBC News web site poses the question of how to give time each day to thinking.  Discussing time, place and props the article includes comments from scientists and Tony Buzan, the inventor of mind maps.No time to think







I've summarised the key points as a mind map (click on the image above).  You can download a MindManager file here.

To read the article in full go to No Time To Think?

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Sunday, 27 July 2008

bCisive - Visual Decision Making

bCisive Program

I've just downloaded a trial of BCisive - a business decision making and diagramming tool.  First impressions are very good. 

When you run bCisive you are presented with a typical workspace in which to model the decision.  However the way the workspace is designed has real impact and yet is fresh and clean.

Building a decision tree is quick and easy and I will experiment more with this.  I see great potential for using this interactively in business meetings, workshops and group consultations. 

The web site offers some great support - with tutorials for beginners, case studies and sample decision maps.  This feels like a winner.

bCisive Man

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Visual Summaries for Workshop Feedback

Recently I gave up a Saturday to support a strategic away day for a charitable organisation. Among the activities were a number of breakout workshops. imageEach workshop was given a question to discuss and the findings were to be presented back to the main group.

The groups I worked with produced many flip charts to capture all their ideas. However, as raw output, these would have proved too much to present back in the time allowed.

In the last five minutes of each workshop I summarised the key ideas with the group and summarised these visually (or graphically) on a single flip chart. image

The subsequent presentations were concise and focussed on the key ideas and conclusions.  The audience found it easy to recall the main points.

The visual organisation of the ideas is simple yet powerful – a demonstration of how ideas can be presented visually with little or no artistic talent – and in next to no time.



Sunday, 29 June 2008

Jamie Nast Gives Idea Mapping Training to the UK

image Well, at least to those who sign up for her course in Poole, Dorset to be given October 6-7th later this year.

Click here to download the flyer with full details.

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Mind2Chart - Latest Version

Version 1.3 of Mind2Chart has been released. This neatly packaged project planning add-in to MindManager has been updated with more essential features. Latest additions are:

  • Colouring Tasks and Colour Synchronization
    Tasks bar colouring can now be synchronised with colours on the mindmap
  • Master Project Calendar
    You can now define holidays and workdays and work-hours per day for a team
  • Advanced Resource Parameters: Individual Schedule and Cost
    An individual calendar and details for each resource can now be set
  • Total Cost Sheet
    A new report and Excel export provide total project costs
  • Automatic Task Alignment Tool
    This simple function provides resource levelling.

I am very impressed with the simplicity of use and the speed of operation of this add-in.  The extracts to Excel of tasks, resources and total costs result in beautifully formatted spreadsheets, with tasks highlighted and accurately indented sub-tasks.  Here are some screen shots.

M2C2 M2C window open

M2C3 M2C window expanded

M2C4 Task sheet export to Excel

M2C5 Resource list in Excel

Sergiy Goncharov, from the company that developed M2C, shared his team's philosophy :

"the recipe for the right product is simple:
- we are software development company with very well established testing procedures
- we are mind mapping enthusiasts
- we are lazy enough so we focus only on things that really adds value to our work ;) "

You can download a free full function trial of Mind2Chart v1.3 from the official site at:

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Graphic Record of the IAF Conference - Large Scale


I've been asked to provide a larger scale version of the graphic record of last year's European IAF Conference.  Click on the image here or this link to download a PDF.

A warning - the file is over 5Mb.

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Monday, 16 June 2008

IQ Visual Mapping Conference - Q&A with Brian S Friedlander

Some time ago I was able to pose some questions to Brian about the IQ Visual Mapping Conference, set for October 3rd this year.  Brian was good enough to provide detailed responses and I'm pleased to share the complete dialogue on this blog. 

The questions posed include:

  • What was the inspiration for the conference?
  • Who is the conference aimed at? How will they benefit?
  • What experience or prior knowledge should attendees have?
  • What will attendees get to take away?

Click on this link to see the Q&A as a pdf.

The very latest news is that the conference team have now started a blog to keep everyone up to date on developments around the conference.  Click here to go to the blog.

One of the conference presenters, Chuck Frey, has posted on the conference content which can be seen here.

To register for the conference, please click here.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Import a Word Document into MindManager

Taken directly from the MindManager help file:

"MindManager can import a Word document and transform the text into a map. An essential part of this process is the proper structuring of the Word document.

The document is processed according to the styles it contains. MindManager uses the Heading styles to determine the map topic hierarchy: text in Heading 1 style becomes Main topics, Heading 2 and greater are subtopics. Text in the Normal style (or any other style that is not a Heading style) is included as text notes for the topic directly preceding it. "

WordDocPreMM In this simple example, the headings in the document had a style 'Heading 1' and the notes had a style 'Heading 2'.





WordDocPostMM The resulting map - all that was needed was to edit the central topic.



This powerful feature can be invaluable for turning a document into a map for further review - allowing restructuring, the building of associations and the addition of colour and images.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Mapping Thoughts Pt4 - Making Notes More Memorable

RolesMap Here is a simple map from one of my note books. The subject was the different roles one might have in life.  Rather than list as a series of bullets I included this simple 'wheel' mind map in my notes.

To aid recall I might subsequently have redrawn the map and added colour and images.

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Sunday, 1 June 2008

IQ Visual Mapping Conference

Brian S Friedlander and colleagues are hosting a full day conference in October on how to use visual mapping to advantage in your organisation. The team promise to demonstrate how to take visual mapping to the next level and attendees will see how this powerful tool can help them reach personal, academic or business goals.

The conference will be hosted and led by Brian S. Friedlander, Ph.D. and his professional team of preeminent visual mappers who include: Adam Clayman, Stephanie Diamond, Chuck Frey, Arjen Ter Hoeve, Kyle McFarlin, and Wallace Tait. His assembled team comes from such areas as banking, psychology, manufacturing, business management, marketing and college teaching.

Coming Soon: A Q&A session with Brian that will reveal the inspiration behind the conference together with more details of the event itself.  Watch this Space.

Details of the IQ Visual Mapping Conference are available here

Friday, 30 May 2008

Update on Mind2Chart

Sergiy Goncharov from the Mind2Chart people has been in touch with some additional details on this project planning add-in for MindManager. 

Sergiy says:

"- there is a hotkey "Ctrl-G" that opens and closes the M2C pane, so there is no need to deal with ribbons;

- M2C is $79 for a single copy - available from the 'Try and Buy' page on the website

- M2C is working well with Mindjet Connect.

Now we're working on an updated version (1.3) which will have some great features such as resource costing and calendaring - I will keep you posted ........"


Thanks Sergiy - I am looking forward to the next version already.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Mind2Chart and MindManager

M2C Box


I've been getting to know a useful project planning add-in for MindManager.  It's called Mind2Chart and can be used to create simple project plans and Gantts from MindManager maps - quickly and without fuss.


M2C01 To use you first create the task list in MM.  You can add task information and resources if you wish, or add them later when Mind2Chart is active.  Next select all the tasks and either click on the Chart Item option added to the ribbon or right click and select from the pop-up menu.  Then click Mind2Chart View from the MM View menu bar (the Mind2Chart options are added when the product is installed).  A window opens below the map displaying task details and the Gantt view.

Working in the Mind2Chart window you can now edit tasks, add and amend resources, link tasks and create dependencies and set milestones.  As you work, any changes are reflected in the MM map simultaneously. A nice feature is the critical path highlight option.

Mind2Chart does not work in standalone mode - it is designed to work with a map.  To add tasks or change their sequence, move the tasks (topics) on the mind map itself.  You can however amend the predecessors from within Mind2Chart.

M2CTskAlso included is an export feature which will create either a task or a resource spreadsheet - very nice touch and very useful.  To export to other formats, such as MS Project then export from the MindManager map in the usual way once you have finished editing using Mind2Chart.  You can also print the combined task list and Gantt.  This is a simple option but by changing the margins of the document it is possible to fit the output to "1 page wide - many pages tall".

Mind2Chart does simple task scheduling M2CReswell and is an alternative to JCVGantt, although less powerful.  The development team are incredibly responsive and have answered my queries and added a feature within days (export to older versions of Excel).  The web site includes training notes and videos together with support and FAQs.  At this stage I'm waiting for pricing details.


Monday, 26 May 2008

Planning Effective Meetings

Before the Meeting, Ask Yourself  .....I was lucky enough to be asked to give a short presentation recently on Planning for Effective Meetings.  The 10 minute talk is supported by a mind map listing the key points and a planning worksheet.

The talk was developed via a mind map that then migrated to MindManager for further development, becoming my script in the process.  You can download the mind map as a pdf here and the planning worksheet here - right click on the links and then save.


Saturday, 17 May 2008

Web-Based Mind Mapping Applications

Chuck Frey has just published an extensive comparison chart of the major web-based mind mapping applications - MindMeister, Mindomo, Mind42, Comapping and Mead Map - covering over 60 features and capabilities of these applications, including:

Webmmschart200px- Overview (versions, pricing)
- Map formats supported
- Map level features
- Topic-level features
- Import options
- Export options
- Publishing options
- Collaboration
- Other features

This comparison chart is available as a free download from my blog. Here's a link with more details:

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Graphic Record of the IAF Conference

graphicrecordingLast October I attended the annual conference of the International Association of Facilitators in Edinburgh.  Among many highlights were the opening and the close where we were treated to thought provoking material by two guest speakers.  These items were recorded by graphic facilitator, Albi Taylor and her wonderful work has just been made available.  Click on the image to see a larger scale version.

I will post more about some of the material over the coming weeks, focusing on different areas of the graphic.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Mapping Thoughts Pt 3 - Note Taking

EnergyMap Mind maps are wonderful for taking real time notes.  They aid memory, allow associations to be identified and reinforced and they can make the driest school lesson a little more fun.

Here is an example of notes taken during a Year 9 science lesson on the topic of energy transformation.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

MindMaps on Moonfruit

imagePaul Foreman is creating numerous hand drawn mind maps on health, well being and being organised.  They are all available for viewing at or



For anyone interested in developing their skills and style this is an invaluable resource given the huge range of examples.



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Thursday, 17 April 2008

MindManager Connect Beta

Collaborating with MindManager.

Mindjet Connect Beta

The next release of MindManager will include a new feature - MindJet Connect.  This allows you to invite a group to work together - in real time if you wish - on mind maps and other files.  Some of the features included are:

  • Simultaneous editing of maps by groups large and small
  • Attachment, upload and sharing of files
  • Instant meeting and chat options
  • Creation and management of workspaces
  • Management of users - who sees and edits what.

The product is in Beta test at the moment and disclosure restrictions have just been lifted.  To access Connect you either need to be an account holder or to be invited to join an account. If you would like to try the function, share maps and generally experiment, do drop me a line.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

To Do Lists with MindManager

I have dabbled with using MindManager to manage my to do's without reaching a stage of comfort.  I always revert to the simple list management possible with MS Outlook to which I have added the Getting Things Done (GTD) add-in.  I think this is partly because the maps get too big.

Accounts To DosObviously the idea of using a map or maps appeals to me as I keep coming back and trying again.  Recently I had more success by keeping the map constrained to just one set or topic of to do's.  In this instance it is everything I need to do with my accounts and taxation (brrrrrr!).  This has worked really well as it has allowed me to see everything I need to do on a specific topic, whereas the Outlook/GTD combination is less satisfactory in this respect. 

I create the tasks in Outlook, often from emails or as next actions when completing tasks.  I send these together with appointments and contacts to the MindManager map.  I also include links to relevant web sites, files and folders.  From this point I use the map to manage progress.

Gaelen O'Connell of MindJet has posted a question on LinkedIn asking 'What's your favourite GTD application?'.  The answers to date include a wide range of applications.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Meeting Magic - the Book

The graphic facilitators Meeting Magic have published a practical guide to making meetings more effective.  The book takes common problems with meetings, offers tools and tips to prevent each problem arising and how to deal with the problem if it does arise.

I met some of the Meeting Magic team in Edinburgh last October at the IAF European conference.  They are an experienced group with tremendous enthusiasm for achieving productive meetings.  While the use of graphics is a powerful tool in their armoury you don't need any drawing or facilitation skills to benefit from this book.

And the title?  Well it's Meeting Magic of course.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Mapping Thoughts Pt2 - Note Taking

Here is the second in an occasional series on applications for hand drawn maps.

Increasingly I find I am embellishing my notes with small mind maps and other visual references.  Here are some examples.

The first two are maps with only three branches. 



The third is probably the smallest mind map I have ever created.


Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Mind Maps for Authors

Mind mappingTom Evans helps budding authors get started and has a blog, The Bookwright, offering online resources. In his posting, "Why authors should use Mind Maps", he describes how mind mapping helps get thoughts down on paper in a way that leads to further insights, ideas and enlightenment.  The posting also includes a link to a sample map that summarises the posting.

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Friday, 28 March 2008

6 Thinking Hats and Mind Maps

There is continuing interest in Edward DeBono's Six Thinking Hats approach to helping groups develop, review and agree on options and solutions.

Last week Jamie Nast posted two idea or mind maps on the subject - one map summarising the technique and the other being a simple MindManager template to use in a meeting.  The material also appeared in the MindJet user newsletter.

The second map is available to download as a MindManager template - click here.


Andrew Wilcox has also used the technique with mind maps and has written about it here.  He also offers a template for downloading - click here.



I found this hand drawn map at the Illumine Training web site devoted to mind mapping


If you have a take on this subject or any maps or templates to share, do send them on.

DeBono's book is still available.