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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Managing a Crisis - A Plan for Business Continuity

image In a previous post introducing Business Continuity (See: Surviving a Crisis - Business Continuity), it was recommended to define a policy setting out the responses in the event of disruption.

Having assessed your organisation, identified the more likely threats and defined your high level response in a policy, the next step is to think about the actions and initiatives to be taken to reduce the impact of a crisis.

Implement the Policy

The initiatives and actions may take the form of business-as-usual initiatives, such as reviewing insurance or suppliers. They may also result in projects such as technology replacement or premises relocation.

The policy will also identify which business activities require revised or new continuity plans.

You might want to create a strategy document to set out the overall risk reduction approach or you may includes this as part of the policy.

The Business Continuity Plan

The Business Continuity Plan addresses business disruption, interruption or loss from the initial response to the point at which normal operations are resumed. It is based upon the agreed responses set out in the Business Continuity Policy and provides procedures and processes to be followed in the event of a crisis. In particular the plan will:

  • Allocate roles and their accountability, responsibility and authority
  • Detail the interfaces and the principles for dealing with external players in the response such as recovery services suppliers and emergency services
  • Identify a role for communication and the communication plan with senior managers, employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders.

The typical contents of a BC Plan are listed below.

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Once the plan is defined and agreed, implement it to ensure all responsibilities are understood. Think about testing the plan (possibly on an annual basis) and how it will be maintained over time when changes occur.

Other Plans You Might Need

  • Incident Management

An incident management plan defines how the strategic issues of a crisis affecting the organisation would be addressed and managed by the Executive.

The media response to any incident is usually managed through an incident management plan though some organisations would manage the media under a business continuity plan.

  • Restoration

The business continuity plan will address the immediate response to a disruption and implement the processes and procedures to deliver an interim operation. Whilst this is in play, departments will be working to achieve full restoration of their activities to return the organisation to its "normal" operation. The business continuity policy/strategy will have identified which departments are to prepare and maintain restoration plans.

A MindGenius map is available that provides a guide to creating your own Business Continuity Plan. As with the Policy map, it may also be used as a template or checklist and exported to Word.

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The map is available at Biggerplate as Business Continuity Plan - Template.

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imageIf 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

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The MindManager Experience - Measurement and Feelings

Neuroscience indicates that using mapping and visual software tools can help us cope better with information processing tasks. But what does it actually feel like to use these tools - does individual experience match the measurements?

Science Measures Activity and Stress

You may have seen reports recently that using mapping software can lead to improved performance and less stress (BBC: Pretty pictures: Can images stop data overload?).

Mindlab experiment

In a test commissioned by MindJet, the results indicated:

  • Less mental resources needed to perform a task
  • More efficient information processing
  • Greater recall of information after the task.

The tests involved neurobiological and skin conductance monitoring of participants whilst performing information processing tasks. Essentially the tests measured brain activity and stress whilst the subjects performed information processing tasks using Office software and MindManager.

(You can register to download a copy of the background to the tests and the results here.)

Yes – But How Did it Feel?

As one of the 12 participants I was eager to see how the measurements corresponded to my sense of the experience of performing the tests.  Did the measurements support my feelings at the time as to when I was under pressure and when I was enjoying the work?

During the session I was pleasantly surprised to sense a marked difference in my experience, attitude, comfort and satisfaction when performing the tasks using Office software compared with performing the tasks using MindManager.

A Little Personal Background

Before relating my experience of the tests, some background.  I have been using MindManager for many years - since version 6.  The main uses include:

  • Jotting down ideas
  • Pulling together research notes for review
  • Analysing and structuring information
  • Maintaining links by which to access files, web pages, spreadsheets - relating to a specific client, project or subject
  • Writing reports, business documents, blog posts

I also use Office products - Word, Excel and Access - on a daily basis.

The Human Experience

The tests were held at Mindlabs International offices at Sussex University, near Brighton.  Participants performed a number of tasks collecting, recording and reviewing information.  Whilst doing these tasks they were wired up to monitor brain activity and stress indicators through the skin.

It's worth taking into account that the tests themselves involved a little extra and unusual stress:

  • A new and strange environment - not my office
  • Performed after a long journey - nearly 2 hours by car, to a destination I'd not been to before
  • Meeting new people - always fun but not without a certain tension
  • Being wired up to a machine - only ever happened before on a visit to the doctor
  • Using an unfamiliar computer, network and file folder structure
  • Taking a test - no matter I'd volunteered, what if I messed up on the tests (Yoiks!)

Mindlab experiment

Performing the tasks using Office was more uncomfortable than I thought it would be - it was a little stressful.  In addition to finding, understanding and recording the information, I found myself having to make many decisions:

  • Shall I use Word or Excel?
  • How many files shall I create?
  • What information shall I put in which file?
  • How should I format the information?
  • Where shall I save the files?
  • What shall I call the files?
  • Do I need new folders? What shall I call them?

I admit to feeling a little flustered and under pressure when using just the Office tools

Performing the tasks using MindManager was more comfortable than I expected:

  • There seemed to be fewer questions in my mind
  • It seemed to take less effort - it felt less like hard work
  • I completed the tasks more quickly
  • I felt more relaxed, more in control.

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Personal Conclusions

I am an experienced MindManager user and use it and similar software on a daily basis. It is the way I work so it is only natural that I would feel comfortable using it. However this comfort was presumably offset by the unusual circumstances of the tests.

I'm also an experienced Office user but I was surprised, by comparison, at how difficult it was to perform the simple tests using only these tools. It was really uncomfortable and I had more of a sense of being under pressure

I got a strong sense of the changes in my attitude towards the tests, the sense of comfort and the feeling of job satisfaction.  This seems to be supported by the measurements.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Membership Milestone Reached by Biggerplate

The Biggerplate Blog

The mind map sharing site, Biggerplate, has reached a major milestone by registering its 30,000 member. Quite an achievement for the owner and creator, Liam Hughes. Congratulations!

Originally launched in January 2008 and re-launched early in 2011 after a major revamp, the site is a library where mind map users can share maps.  If you are looking for assistance with a subject the chances are you will find a map on Biggerplate that can help.  If you've created a map and think it may help others, you can upload the map in seconds.

Membership is free and it takes only a few moments to register.  Once you've registered you may download any or all of the maps on the site.

Currently Biggerplate supports maps created with:

  • MindManager
  • iMindMap
  • Xmind
  • MindGenius.

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The site provides different ways of participating in mind mapping.  It's also easy to connect with others with similar interests using Biggerplate Groups or via the inbuilt social media links.

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You can access Biggerplate by clicking this link.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

WikiSummarizer Enters 2012 MassChallenge

In a bid for funds to expand their online service, WikiSummarizer has entered this year's Mass Challenge competition.

"MassChallenge is the largest-ever startup accelerator and competition, and the first to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached. Benefits for startups include:

  • 3 month accelerator program. World-class mentorship and training, free office space, access to funding, media and more.
  • $1M in Cash Awards. $4M+ in-kind support.
  • Open to all. Any startup can enter, from anywhere, in any industry.
  • No equity taken. No restrictions applied."

"President Obama honored MassChallenge in January of 2011 as one of the nation's best organizations for supporting high-growth entrepreneurs, and MassChallenge is an affiliate of the Startup America Partnership.

The 111 startups supported in the 2010 accelerator raised over ~$100M in outside funding and created ~500 new jobs in under 12 months."

The WikiSummarizer elevator pitch is:

"WebSummarizer provides tools to summarize web pages and documents to make the KEY FACTS instantly VISIBLE. Organizations and users can integrate WebSummarizer engine with search engines, social media, blogs, news and any textual information streams to filter and extract summaries and automatically build knowledge bases. The keywords and summaries form corporate and personal knowledge libraries. WebSummarizer works with any 3-rd party content applications on computers, tablets and smart phones."

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You can support WikiSummarizer by voting at the MassChallenge web site.  The more 5 Star ratings they get the better their chances of going through to the next round.

If you are a WikiSummarizer user please give your support to Henry and the team.

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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Sharing MindManager Icons, Map Parts and Themes with Package Folders

Acknowledgements

imageA big thank you to Andrew Wilcox for introducing me to the Package Folder feature of MindManager and providing the inspiration for sharing all my custom items across multiple PCs.

Andrew is an acknowledged expert with MindManager and his blog is regularly updated - please visit: Applications of MindManager.

 

What is a Package Folder?

It has been described by some as one of the hidden (lost?) gems of MindManager.

It is the place where MindManager stores all the styles/themes, icons, markers, map parts, images and so on.

When you install MindManager a series of folders are created on your PC to hold all the elements that come with the package. MindManager finds these items by referencing a default 'Package Folder' called 'MindManager'. See 'File' > 'Options' then select 'Package Folders'.

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Every time you access an icon or choose a template or theme from within MindManager, the application is looking these up in this default Package Folder.

These installed items are buried deep with your 'Program Files' folder, accessed by a long file path such as 'C:\Documents and Settings\Steve\Local Settings\Application Data\Mindjet\MindManager\10\Library\ENU\'.

What Can I Use it For?

When you create your own items for use with MindManager - map parts, icons, images, themes - you probably save these somewhere in your 'My Documents' folder on the PC you created them with.

Whenever you want to use them you have to point MindManager manually at the appropriate folder - assuming you can remember where you saved the item.

If instead you create your own Package Folder, you can store all your custom items in this.

See Andrew Wilcox's post 'How to manage shared resources for teams of MindManager users' on how to do this.

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Sharing Your Package Folders

Andrew describes the sharing of items between different users across a network and even between different versions of MindManager on the same PC.

He also describes how you can do this using Internet sharing tools such as DropBox.

My own favourite is the Magic Briefcase feature of SugarSync which lets me share these items amongst my different PCs and laptops at home, in the office and with clients.

To do this, I created a Package Folder in my Magic Briefcase. In MindManager I called this .... well, 'Magic Briefcase'. It points to a new folder within Magic Briefcase which I called 'MindManager Package Folder'.

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Next I copied in all my useful items, using Windows Explorer, taking care to store them within the appropriate sub folder created by MindManager.

The items were instantly available from within MindManager - such as this theme ...

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...or these icons.

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Then I started my laptop up. SugarSync automatically updated the Magic Briefcase folder on the laptop with the new folders and items.

I opened MindManager on the laptop and created the new Package Folder as before, taking care to point to this new folder at the Package Folder in Magic Briefcase. The items I'd put in here on my desktop PC were now immediately available to MindManager on my laptop.

From now on I can not only find and use all these items more easily from within MindManager, I can also maintain them automatically across my various PCs.

Please visit Andrew's blog - Applications of MindManager.

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If you would like to know more about SugarSync and the Magic Briefcase please click here to be taken to the SugarSync web site.

SugarSync: Sync your life. Access, sync, and share all your files from any device.

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Monday, 16 April 2012

Surviving a Crisis - Business Continuity

What is a crisis? Anything that interrupts your business - in particular anything which impacts your organisation's ability to generate or maintain revenue. Specifically this is any event that impacts the delivery of the organisation's products and services.

Your organisation is under threat and it's not all about air crashes, bombs and major floods. The key to effective business continuity management is recognising the more mundane and more likely threats to your business. 

You can then define how the organisation will respond to these, in the form of a policy. 

Such a policy will:

  • Identify the Critical Activities for the organisation
  • List the key threats to delivery of products and services
  • Describe the procedure for invoking Business Continuity Plans
  • Describe the roles and responsibilities for Business Continuity Plans
  • Set out the context for and gives general guidance on the delivery of critical activities during a disruption.

A typical structure or template for a Business Continuity Policy will look like the example below:

TemplateOutline

A map is available that provides a guide to creating your own Business Continuity Policy. It may also be used as a template or checklist and exported to Word.

The map is available at Biggerplate at Business Continuity Policy - Guide and Template.

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__________________________________

imageIf 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