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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

6 Thinking Hats and MindGenius

De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats - different coloured hats each symbolising a specific perspective - provide a structured way of looking at a problem or idea from all angles.  It's a great workshop tool.

With the brainstorming and analysis tools included within MindGenius 4 it is possible to step through a process of: generating ideas using the Thinking Hats; reviewing the ideas, again with the Thinking Hats; then creating a final integrated view of all the ideas, categorised by Thinking Hat.

In summary, the 6 Thinking Hats are:

White hat: neutral; fact or information driven; trends; no opinions; gaps in knowledge

Red hat: intuition or gut reactions; feelings; emotional responses

Black hat: defensive thinking; risks; constraints; impact for other initiatives

Yellow hat: positive thinking; opportunities; benefits

Green hat: creativity; new ways of seeing things; new associations; insights

Blue hat: process control – worn by the meeting chair; summaries; actions; decisions.

Category edit add white hat drop down The hats can be created as MindGenius categories ahead of the workshop.  Click the image (left) to see an enlarged view.

 

 

Depending on how the workshop is planned, you might first begin with a brainstorm and collect all the ideas in MindGenius.

Hats brainstorm

The 6 Thinking Hats icons can be applied as the process is stepped through or as part of a second pass where the audience is asked to categorise the ideas.

Category edit add white hat drop down applied

Category edit add white hat drop down applied newTo create some order from this brainstorm and initial categorisation, select the " Create Map from Brainstorm" option and "Create Category-Centric Map".

 

 

MindGenius will create a new map with branches based on each of the 6 Thinking Hats and the categorised ideas attached under the appropriate branch.

Category edit add white hat drop down applied new dia result

Reformat the map to a preferred style and you are ready to move on to the next stage of the workshop.

Category edit add white hat drop down applied new dia result format

In the next post I'll show how to create the 6 Thinking Hats Category Group in MindGenius. 

image

 

If you want to try MindGenius please click on this link or the "trial" image here.

 

 

For more on De Bono's 6 Thinking Hats try his book:

 

Friday, 27 May 2011

MindGenius Version 4 - New Release

Just released is the newest version of MindGenius, Version 4.  This version contains significant additions and enhancements and is well worth a look.image
Two new functions added are:
  • Brainstorming
  • Presentations.
Major enhancements have been made to:
  • Project Management
  • Task Management.
Brainstorming
image A well thought out approach to providing support for brainstorming that leads to finished products where information has been sorted, filtered and/or categorised - ready for input into action planning. 
The brainstorming view captures ideas in an unstructured format that removes the risk of channeling ideas down pre-determined or emerging paths.  The brainstorm can be seeded by the use of a MindGenius question set, great for prompting ideas and getting things started.  Users can select from a range of question set templates supplied with MindGenius or create their own.  If desired, ideas can be captured linked to the question that prompted them - useful for subsequent review and analysis.  when ready, MindGenius can create new structured maps from the unstructured ideas, either organised by question or by categories applied to the ideas.
See a tutorial video on the Brainstorming feature

Presentations
image Also new in MindGenius 4 is a presentation feature.  Taking a map as a starting point, the new tools allow a set of slides to be created interactively. 
The user has great control over the content, layout, additional text and graphics appearing in each slide.  To create a slide, a portion of the map - typically a branch - is selected and forms the basis of the slide.  Additional text can be added, together with graphics to embellish the slide. 
Once created a set of slide can be edited to change sequence or remove unwanted slides.  A background can be applied together transitions between slides.  Throughout the link with the original map is maintained so that any edits to the slide content and reflected in the map.  This is a great feature as it let's the material be edited on the fly during the presentation - great for capturing feedback and new ideas.  The presentation can be exported either as a PDF or PowerPoint file.
See a tutorial video on the Presentation feature

Project and Task Management
image
Improvements include:
  • New Gantt link types - F-F; S-F; S-S
  • Task constraint types - ASAP; Must Start On; Must Finish On; Start No earlier Than
  • New dynamic date filters - Today; On; Before
  • Branch symbol linked to status and % complete.
Initial overall impressions are that this version adds significant new function - function that is immediately useful for all kinds of idea creation, evaluation, planning and communication. 
In particular, the Brainstorming and Analysis tools, when used in combination, offer powerful tools for facilitating 1-1 sessions, meetings and workshops.
image

MindGenius and the Consensus Workshop Method

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.

image

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Friday, 20 May 2011

Internal Controls - Documenting with MS Visio

The last post (Process Mapping with Internal Controls)introduced the idea of integrating internal controls definitions with/within the map of the process that they apply to.  Using Visio the properties of each internal control can be recorded using the "Shape Data" feature. 

For this example, the shape object used to represent an internal control is the "Control transfer" object that comes as part of the Visio "Basic Flowchart Shapes" stencil.

This shape, transposed and coloured red, has been used to add four controls to a Purchase to Pay (P2P) process model (see below).

 

P2P Process with controls for blog

image The properties of each control have been added using the "Shape Data" feature, using a custom data set defining the properties and values needed.

The properties and typical values for defining an internal control are illustrated in this example.image

Having recorded the data on the map, how can it be accessed and used?  Visio has a "Report" feature ("Data > Reports") that can be used to list the controls and their properties.  We'll work with a report that creates an Excel spreadsheet.

image

 

Selecting "Reports" from the "Data" menu brings up the list of available reports.

We'll look at the "ControlReport". 

To view or modify this report, click "Modify".

 

imageWe want to report on only the controls on the current page.

Click "Next >".

 

 

 

 

image Now we can select the properties we want to include in the report.

Click "Next >".

 

 

 

imageNext, give the report a title and set the sort criteria.  In this example we'll sort by a Visio default field - "Shape ID".  This will order the report rows according to the order in which they were created on the drawing. Click "Next >".

 

image Next, save the report.  If it is saved as file then it can be loaded and used by any other or new drawing we create.

Click "Finish".

 

 

imageNow click "Run" to run the report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

image Select "Excel" and "OK".

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Excel spreadsheet is created which requires a minimum of formatting to produce a pleasing and usable result.

image

If at the Visio "Run Report" dialogue we select "Visio shape", Visio will create the Excel report and include it within the process map drawing as an object.

image 

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Process Mapping with Internal Controls

An approach to defining an internal control regime was outlined in a previous post (see: Defining Internal Controls).  When it comes to documenting the control strategy, typically a list is made for each process or process area.

A simple list of controls will include:

  • Control objectives
  • Risks to be managed
  • The internal controls themselves.

Such a list for a Purchase to Pay process (P2P) might look like the Excel example below.

image

A further step is to map the controls to the process steps, showing where the controls are applied.  This is easily done by adding a column and entering details of the process steps.

Where the process has been mapped, it is straightforward to annotate the diagram with the controls, linking them to the process steps where they are applied, as in the example below.

 

P2P Process for blog

image

Software such as Visio can used to map the process, and contains ready-defined objects to represent internal controls (in Visio, use the object called "Control transfer").

 

Add these objects to the process map wherever a control is to be applied. Change the format such as colour and size to help the controls stand out.  The controls may be added as a separate layer or overlay to an existing or new map.

 

P2P Process with controls for blog

To add details of the control, edit the fields to capture the details (in Visio first create a custom set of such details as part of the "Shape Data").

image

image

The advantage of this approach is the tight integration of the controls with the process definition and mapping.  When considering implementation or process improvement, one can be sure that all details relevant to the process are contained within a single source, in this case the process map. 

With software like Visio, it's possible to "report" from the map to create lists of the controls, taking the place of the simple lists illustrated at the start of this post.

 

Thursday, 12 May 2011

MindGenius and the Consensus Workshop Method

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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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Consensus Workshop - A Simple Method

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", by R. Brian Stanfield.