Disclaimer: This article does not represent Equifax’s position, opinion or strategy on process improvement, software, or mind mapping.
(Editor’s Note: Six Sigma & Process Excellence IQ searched its contacts on LinkedIn for someone who would be able to offer insight into MindManager 9 for Windows and selected Troy Nielsen to review the software. Nielsen is in no way associated with Mindjet.)
MindManager 9 for Windows, the latest mind mapping software release from Mindjet, includes new features that will benefit Six Sigma Black Belts, Lean leaders, and process improvement practitioners. In addition to its ability to organize large amounts of information and ideas, MindManager 9 for Windows provides two new features that will especially benefit process improvement practitioners: project Gantt chart and slide presentation.
As a Lean leader, I frequently have to navigate between ideas, tasks, business information, and visuals all while managing a project plan. Usually that means finding various files, opening several applications, and doing rework to copy information from one format to another. With MindManager, I can use one project map to link all of that information while performing updates, adding information, and managing a project plan. Fellow practitioners and team members can also easily review and collaborate on the project because of the map’s ability to quickly hide and show detail, change viewing formats, and focus in certain topic areas.
Mind mapping captures information, analyzes relationships, brainstorms concepts and identifies priorities. Think of that picture on your whiteboard that shows connected ideas and concepts using ovals and lines — that’s a mind map. Mindjet, formed in 1993, has been producing mind mapping software under the product name “MindManager.” The software runs on Windows (Version 9) and Mac (Version 8). MindManager for Windows can also be enhanced with program add-ons extensions, such as Catalyst for collaborative purposes and MindManager Explorer for SharePoint for managing your SharePoint content using MindManager.
Project Gantt Chart and Resource Planning
While previous versions of MindManager have had project management capability, Version 9 takes it to a new level by adding a Gantt chart view (see Figure 1; click to enlarge).
You can edit the task info in the Task Info pane or directly in the Gantt chart view (see Figure 2). Either way, the mind map will refresh to include the updates. This is useful because at some points in project work you may be in “project management mode” and working mostly in a Gantt chart view. In addition, you may find that some team members are more familiar with the Gantt chart view — you can use that view for team meetings and project updates. In the past, one would have to create a separate unlinked Gantt chart for the project management view. The integration of the project management and collaborative views is a time-saving benefit for the process improvement practitioner.
Figure 2: Editing in Gantt chart view
Interactive Slide Presentations
Prior to Version 9, creating a slide show from a mind map meant exporting the map to PowerPoint and then editing the slides to ensure that the information is properly represented in the slides. And then you were left with a static representation of the dynamic mind map. There is a significant upgrade to that process in Version 9: You create the slide show while in the mind map, picking which topics you want to appear in which order, and you can dynamically update the map while in “slide show mode”!
Let’s say that you are making a brief presentation on a data request. You have three branches in your map: objective, overall process flow, and data request specifics. In this example, let’s assume that you need to present slides to an audience involved in the data collection. To create the slides in the mind map, you right click on the branch that you want included and select “New Slide from Topic.”
Figure 3: Creating map within branch
After making three slides from the three branches, your work view changes as shown in Figure 4. The slides are the ones shown on the left pane.
Figure 4: Slide and Map View
Branches with linked slides are identified with a “slide” icon as shown in Figure 5. You can select specific branches to include on the map.
Figure 5: Slide icon on branch
In the slide show work pane, there are pull-down options that assist in the creation and editing of the slide show. See Figure 6.
Figure 6: Slide show pane options
When you put the map in slide show mode, you can isolate the topics branch by branch and you can update, add, delete, and modify the branches just as if you were in the mind map mode. The integration of mind mapping and slide show mode is a key upgrade to Version 9.
According to Mindjet, MindManager Version 9 launches approximately 35 percent faster and opens maps 50 percent faster. While I did not do a detailed verification of those numbers, I noticed a significant performance improvement while launching the software and opening maps.
Dynamic Outlook Dashboard
Version 9 allows you to create personal dashboards to manage your work. You can browse all of your Outlook information — tasks, calendar, mail, notes and contacts — in a single dynamic visual framework. You set the controls for what stays in synch. This new feature sounds exciting, but I was unable to test it as I do not use Outlook. I can envision that the synching feature would be critical for project management activities within a process improvement project.
As an extra benefit to slide creation capability in Version 9, you can print specific slides to isolate certain branches for printing. This is another time-saving upgrade.
Updated Template, Image and Icon Libraries
Version 9 includes updated images and icons. See examples in Figure 7.
Figure 7: Examples of updated icons
The upgrades in MindManager Version 9 for Windows address two key areas for process improvement practitioners: integration of project management functionality with the Gantt chart and slide show presentation dynamic mode. Combined with the other upgrades, MindManager Version 9 for Windows is sure to increase the power of mind mapping for process improvement practitioners.
About Troy Nielsen
Troy Nielsen is a process improvement leader at Equifax. For nearly 20 years he has been applying his process improvement skills to engineering, operations, and business excellence functions at companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Philips, MedQuist, and Equifax. He is a senior member of ASQ, an ASQ certified manager of quality/organizational excellence, and certified Six Sigma Black Belt from Air Academy Associates.