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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Creating Word Documents with MindGenius

The previous post (Creating Word Documents with MindManager) demonstrated how a document may be created using mind mapping software.  The software is used for all but the final steps - from an initial dump of ideas through a process of review and restructuring until it is exported to Word for some final formatting.

In that example I used MindManager - other software can provide similar results.  In this post I'll demonstrate this using MindManager.

Here is the report in the later stages of creation ....

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MindGenius has an additional feature useful for visualising the structure of the document - this is the Map Explorer window at the top left.

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You can even use this feature to restructure the topics in the map by selecting and using drag and drop.

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If you've followed the steps in the earlier post, have created the text and structured it according to the strict hierarchy of Word Styles in your target template, then it is now ready for export.

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Notice that the body text has been cut and pasted into the 'Notes ' of the appropriate Topic.

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Select the export options, including the target template.

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There is the completed, formatted Word document.

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imageMany of the images used in this post were created using MindGenius.  If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Creating Word Documents from MindManager

Introduction

Mind mapping software is great for assembling thoughts and notes in preparation for writing a finished document.

Have you gone on from this and used the software to draft the document (contents and structure)? 

Continuing to work in the visual format can help get to a finished product more quickly and with less effort.

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This post summarises an approach to document creation using MindManager. It will show how to prepare and structure the document using MindManager and how to export to Word to achieve a finished document with little or no formatting.

[Clicking on some of the images will expand these in another window]

Approach

1. Assemble Thoughts

First begin by collecting thoughts and notes in MindManager, creating topics as and when ideas form.  Don't be too concerned about structure and the hierarchy of topics to Styles at this stage

2. Structure

Reorganise the notes, grouping them under Level 1 Topics that will form the major sections of the document.

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These will map to the 'Heading 1' Style in Word.  Create and maintain Level 2 Topics that will form sub-headings under each Level 1 Topic. These will map to the 'Heading 2' Style in Word.  Add further levels of sub-heading if required.

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3. Review The Text

Review Structure:  Assemble the topics containing the main text under these headings, use drag 'n' drop.  Add and edit the text.

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Move Body Text into Topic Notes:  Then cut the topics containing the text and paste as Notes to Topics/Headings at the appropriate level.  Notes can be mapped to any Word style but in this example we will map Notes to the Normal style.  Edit the resulting Notes, add further text.  Don't add any Font formatting to the Notes. If you want Numbered or Bulleted lists use the MindManager options within the Notes editor pane.

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Continue Editing and Review: Review the document content, continue adding ideas and text.  Review the structure and order. Re-order Heading Topics, insert new ones.

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4. Preparation for Export to Word

Go to Word and open the template you wish to use.  Review the Styles in the template, especially the 'Heading' styles and the 'Normal' style.  Review styles that are 'based' on the 'Heading 1', 'Heading 2' and so on. Also review the 'Normal' style.  Save the Word template.

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5. Export to Word

Select the Export Option, then the Word option.  Choose or edit the file name and select save.  On the Microsoft Export to Word Settings dialogue, select 'Use settings from template'.  On the next tab, 'Word Template', load your preferred template by clicking the drop down arrow and selecting 'User Template'. Browse for your template and select it. 

When the template has loaded review the mapping for MindManager Topics, Notes and elements to the Styles in your template. MindManager defaults to mapping Topic 1 to 'Heading 1', Topic 2 to 'Heading 2' and so on. Change the mapping of Notes to 'Normal' or what ever your preferred body text style is.

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When you are happy, click 'Export'.

Review the resulting Word document.

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Final Word (!)

If you like to create documents using MindManager before moving to Word this is a great way of doing it.

A little time spent refining and understanding the Word template will save time when it comes to export

The only real constraint of this approach is that to achieve consistent results you must edit and organise your mind map into the strict hierarchical structure of Headings and Notes that will most directly map to the Word hierarchy of styles

There are other approaches to exporting that are less reliant on a tight hierarchical structure and I'll look at one of these in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Management Reporting - Defining Measures that Matter ... A Balanced Scorecard

Reporting the performance of a function or department to senior stakeholders is an opportunity to highlight the value or contribution made.  The challenges lie in how to:

  • Get away from issuing a monthly 'database' that collates every input and output in detail
  • Provide just a handful (or two) of measures that really indicate the overall health of the function
  • Report measures that reinforce the value of the function to the organisation, not just what it costs to operate.

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Keeping the needs or the audience or recipients in mind at all times, consider how they may be helped to:

  • 'See at a glance' how things are doing, helping them prioritise their time to focus on exceptions
  • Understand how the function or department contributes value to the organisation.

An approach that borrows from the balanced scorecard method can help to identify measures of real interest to the target audience.  There are four steps:

  1. Shaping
  2. Objectives
  3. Measures
  4. Targets.

1. Shaping

Reflect on the purpose of the function - what does it contribute, what are its priorities?

What does success look like, what objectives really matter? 

What are the interests of the target audience, over and above cost control, for instance?

What are the four or so Perspectives that reflect what is important?

Typically the Perspectives will include:

  • Customer Requirements or Satisfaction
  • Internal Processes
  • Employee Learning and Skills; Innovation
  • Financial Performance

Additional Perspectives may be included, for instance where a Change Programme is under way a 'Realisation of Benefits' Perspective might be included.

image2. Objectives

In this context think of objectives as being the ongoing purpose or value to be delivered, rather than that maybe used for an annual appraisal.

Taking the context provided by 'Shaping', for each Perspective identify one or two objectives.

Identify objectives that focus on the purpose, success and interests of the target audience.

The objectives should be indicators of the health of the function as seen from the perspective of the target audience, i.e. what your CEO believes is important.

What Outcomes do these Objectives suggest (don't measure the inputs and outputs - measure the Outcomes)?

3. Measures

For each Objective, identify a Measure.

Measures should be numbers - quantitative - where possible.

Think laterally - monitoring the status of a given area might involve, for instance, measuring the status of a basket of items (a bit like the FTSE share index).

For an area where compliance or audit is critical, it might be really useful to report 'the time since last review, inspection or audit' rather than to just keep reporting 'audited'.

Aim for less than 10 Measures ... certainty no more than 20 or you are back to providing a 'database' again.

image 4. Targets

Assign Targets to the Measures against which you can report achievement or otherwise.

Identify the values you will use for the RAG (Red, Amber, Green) status of each Measure based on achievement of the Target.

Where you may be uncertain as to a sensible Target, only begin using Targets where you have experience of performance with the Measures for some time.

Alternatively, set a reasonable Target to begin with and adjust this over time in the light of experience.

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Mind maps are available that summarise the approach and that may also be used as a template or checklist. 

At Biggerplate there is a MindGenius map and a MindManager map

The MindManager map is also available at MapsforThat.

 

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Some of the images used in this post were created using MindGenius.  If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.

Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.
To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST