Summarize with WebSummarizer

 Show All Keywords
 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Planning Effective Meetings with MindGenius

Even a Simple Plan is Better than No Plan

Planning a meeting can take as little time as just a few minutes. The return on investment will be time saved and objectives achieved.  The steps to follow are quite simple:

  • What's the purpose - what must be achieved?
  • Who needs to be at the meeting?
  • What ideas need to be discussed?
  • What will be the style of the meeting?

Once you've considered these questions you are ready to formulate your agenda.

Planning a Meeting Using a Mapping Tool

Mapping tools can help you work through the process and produce a finished meeting plan ready for circulation. The example that follows uses MindGenius.

First, jot down the purpose and key ideas.

Agenda Items for Team Meeting - purpose ideas

Next open a new map and use the Brainstorm feature to identify the discussion subjects (click on the image to see an enlarged view).  If you want, consult others for their ideas and add them to the map.

bstorm1

Categorise the ideas (in this example: Quick; Major; Minor) and create a category centric map to provide the basis of the agenda.

categories

Add timings (here I've used the 'Resources' feature to create labels for '10 mins'; 20 mins' and so on). Top and tail the agenda items with an introduction and a meeting close (click on the image to see an enlarged view).

Agenda Items for Team Meeting - time

Use cut and paste to combine the agenda items with the meeting purpose and ideas. Add notes for any materials, papers or data that might be needed (click on the image to see an enlarged view).

Agenda Items for Team Meeting - final

When you are ready send the agenda map to the attendees (as a map file, PDF or a Word version created by exporting the map).

Agenda Items for Team Meeting - word

For more on planning effective meetings click on the 'meetings' tab below or visit the 'Effective Meetings' group at Biggerplate.

__________________________________image

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

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sharing Word Templates

Introduction

If you use more than one PC or work with a group of people, you might want to share a common set of Word templates.

If you are all connected via a LAN the administrator can configure Word when it is installed to look for the common templates in a specified folder. But what do you do if you are not connected to a LAN?

You can still share templates (and indeed any kind of file) using the Internet file sharing tools such as Dropbox and SugarSync.

Note: I have used Word 2007 in this description - to access the options and locations may vary for Word 2010 or earlier versions of Word.

Word Templates Folder

When Word is installed it creates a folder to store templates deep within the file structure of your PC. The path to this folder is usually something like: C:\Documents and Settings\Steve\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates

Word defines this location as being trusted and adds a 'Trusted Templates' link to the Office Button>Open and Office Button>Save as dialogues. This makes it easy to store new templates you create and to find them later.

When you create a new document using the Office Button>New dialogue, Word opens a screen that allows you to select from a range of templates. You can access your own templates from here, by clicking on the 'My Templates' link in the left hand column.

new-11

This opens a new window, displaying the list of available templates in the default Word folder created upon installation and described above (this is the 'Trusted Templates' folder).

new-21 templates pre

Creating a Shared Area

To share your templates with your other PCs or colleagues using an Internet file sharing application is straightforward.

First create the shared folder that will hold the templates. In this example I'm using SugarSync to synchronise folders between my computers, so I create a folder - 'My Word Templates' - within the Magic Briefcase folder (the Magic Briefcase folder is automatically shared and kept up to date across all PCs you choose to synchronise).

new-31 Magic

Next, move the templates to be shared from the default Word location into this new folder within the Magic Briefcase.

Pointing Word at the Shared Folder

Word uses 'File Location' details to set defaults for storing and accessing files including templates. There are two locations for templates:

  • 'User Templates' - which is where 'My Templates' and 'Trusted Templates' look for templates
  • 'Workgroup Templates' - used by network administrators to store shared, common templates on a LAN.

We'll use 'Workgroup Templates' to point to our new shared folder to access the templates we want to share.

From Word Options select Advanced, scroll down to the 'General' section, click on 'File Locations'.

new-41 location

If you are using this for the first time on your own PC, the location for 'Workgroup Templates' will normally be blank. Highlight 'Workgroup Templates' and click 'Modify'

new-51 locations

Use the file dialogue to navigate to the shared folder within Magic Briefcase, highlight the folder (in this case 'My Word Templates') and click OK.

new-61 mod locn

Returning to the 'File Locations' window you will see that 'Workgroup Templates' is now pointing at the shared folder.

new-71 new locn

Now, whenever you want to create a new document using one of the shared templates, go to the 'New' dialogue and click on 'My Templates'. 'My Templates' will now display all the templates stored in both the 'User Templates' and 'Workgroup Templates' folders, the latter location being where the shared templates are held.

new-81 shared templates

You can also access the folder directly from the 'Open' and 'Save' dialogues by adding it as an item to the 'My Places' bar.

new-91

To find out how to add folders in this way, see this Microsoft article: 'How to customize the My Places bar in both the Open and the Save As dialog boxes in Office'.

________________________________________

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.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

MindGenius for iPad now Released

MindGenius have just announced the release of MindGenius for iPad. This App is free and available now.

Download MindGenius for iPad App.

In the days prior to the launch of MindGenius for iPad, MindGenius claim that over 2000 downloads were made. 

 

With excellent customer feedback being received, at the time of writing the app was the top rated mind mapping App in the App store.

For more details and a video demo, visit the MindGenius blog.

__________________________________image

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

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Creating Finished Products from Template Maps

Maps that are Templates

You will come across many electronic maps that are designed to be used as a template.  Their purpose is to help you create or complete standard documents on specific subjects.

They provide a list of the ideas or subject areas in the form of topic branches and sub-topics and notes to help you complete your own content to arrive at a finished item.

new-1 template

If you work in an organisation where the sharing of maps is common and accepted this may be all you have to do. If a traditional, linear document is required then you will have to export the content into Word.

An example of this approach is standard documentation used to describe programmes or projects. One approach is to create a Blueprint and I'll use an example template for a Blueprint to illustrate some of the key steps in creating one.

The Template Map

Topic branches are the major ideas or subjects forming the requirements of the document.

new-2 topics

See them as headings or sections and sub-sections in a traditional linear document. Should you export your finished map to Word this is exactly how they will appear in the resulting document.

new-5 linear sections

Starting Work

Familiarise yourself with the topic branches. Look at any sub-topic branches or text notes that provide prompts for the content you will need to provide. Start making notes against each of the topics and sub-topics as ideas come to you (mind mapping as it was originally envisaged).

Refining the Ideas

When you think you may have got all the ideas captured on the map, review them:

  • Organise the ideas - moving them to more appropriate topic or sub-topic branches
  • Add new ideas as they occur to you
  • Add new topics or sub-topics if needed
  • Transform the ideas into proper sentences - thinking about the audience for the finished output.

Prepare to Publish

If the map will be the delivered output, add icons, markers, images and relationships to create emphasis or further meaning.

If the map is to be exported to create a traditional Word document, organise what you have written to fit the hierarchical structure of the target document. Structure the map so that the different topic levels and notes will map correctly onto the Word Styles in the template to be used. Lower level topics may be easier to export if they are Notes to higher level topics. Cut and paste the lower level topics as Notes to the relevant topic branches.

Publish to Word

Select the Export function and review the Export options (the dialogue and options will vary depending on which mapping tool you are using - here I am using MindGenius).

Select the preferred Word template.

new-3 export select template

Choose which elements of the map you want to be included or excluded from the finished document.

new-4 export options

Export and review the document created. If there are structural problems it might be easier to go back to the map and fix them there and then re-export. This is essential if you intend to maintain the content of the map over time.

new-6 finished

When you are happy with the document structure and format, review it in detail, making any local formatting changes. Finally, distribute the finished product.

Of course, if your recipients are comfortable with maps you can just send them the map.

__________________________________image

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

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Business Continuity Maps - Now in MindManager Format

MindManager users might be interested to know that the maps in the recent series on Business Continuity are now available in MindManager format. 

The original blog posts provide a little more background to each of the maps and can be accessed by clicking the 'business continuity' Blogger label(below) or by following this link.

The Business Continuity maps can be found at Biggerplate in the Business Continuity Group

They are also available at MapsforThat at the following links:

  1. A Simple Business Continuity Planning Process
  2. Business Continuity Policy - Guide and Template
  3. Business Continuity Plan - Template
  4. Dealing with the Unexpected - Planning Procedure.
image 

Friday, 4 May 2012

Business Continuity - a New Group at Biggerplate

The key to effective business continuity management is recognising the more mundane and more likely threats to your business. This Biggerplate group brings together maps that can help you plan for dealing with the worst.

image

This Group includes all the MindGenius maps (and one extra originally provided as a MindManager map) on the subject of Business Continuity first introduced on this blog.  These are:

  1. A Simple Business Continuity Planning Process
  2. Business Continuity Policy - Guide and Template
  3. Business Continuity Plan - Template
  4. Dealing with the Unexpected - Planning Procedure.

The original blog posts provide a little more background to each of the maps and can be accessed by clicking the 'business continuity' Blogger label (below) or by following this link.

Follow this link to access the Biggerplate Business Continuity Group.  Please add further maps on the subject as you find or develop them.

The new Groups feature lets you bring together all the maps on Biggerplate that relate to your area of interest.  Other Biggerplate users who might be interested in the subject and the maps you’ve gathered can then join the group to access and contribute to the pool of maps.

The Biggerplate Blog

__________________________________

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

Thursday, 3 May 2012

MindGenius for iPad - Coming Soon

MindGenius Ltd Logo

Coming soon from MindGenius is an app for the iPad.

The pre-release information confirms that MindGenius for iPad retains the essential look and feel of MindGenius.

My Business Plan screenshot

It can be used in conjunction with MindGenius for PC, users being able to open maps created in the desktop version and vice versa.

My task list screenshot

Highlights to Watch Out For

  • Simple gestures to add and move branches, allowing you to quickly capture and structure your thoughts.
  • Use Output Tree or Map diagram layouts.
  • Add multiple branches without interruption, initiate Add branch to access the keyboard then simply Type and select ‘+’ to add multiple branches.
  • Includes the unique MindGenius Map Explorer which allows you to focus in on any branch in your map to expand and add more detail.
  • Pan mode, extends the navigation capability of the map explorer while browsing large maps.
  • 100% compatible with MindGenius desktop; Notes, categories, resources, pictures and action properties are all retained.
  • Send maps between the desktop and iPad using Dropbox integration or email.

Quick Start Image

I'm not an iPad user however I am keen to hear the experiences of those who adopt the app. Do drop me a line or comment on this post with your first thoughts.

The MindGenius for iPad app is free and will be available in the next couple of weeks.

Keep an eye out for more information at the MindGenius web site.

Technorati Tags: ,

__________________________________ image

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

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Business Continuity Planning - The Essentials

clip_image002In previous posts introducing Business Continuity, we've looked at defining and documenting a Business Continuity Policy and Business Continuity Plans.

These are best considered as deliverables from an overall planning process.

Such a process can be all encompassing and expensive to undertake. However it may be possible to achieve an acceptable result by focusing on the essential elements only.

Where to Start

  • 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.

The first step is to consider how your business organisation might be effected .... establish a business case for Business Continuity.

  • Agree that your organisation is under threat

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

“It won't happen to us”, “We will cope – we always do”, “We are too big to fail” and “We are not a terrorist target” , are frequent responses by businesses when questioned about their lack of preparedness. Others believe their insurance company will pay for everything. Most think they haven't got the time or money to prepare for something that will never happen. The catalogue of businesses that have failed following an incident suggests that these responses are based on false assumptions.

Whilst bombs, fires and floods capture the headlines almost 90% of business-threatening incidents are ‘quiet catastrophes which go unreported in the media but can have a devastating impact on an organisation’s ability to function. Many of the causes are outside of an organisation’s control and they are often at the mercy of the emergency services or suppliers who define the timescale of an interruption.

Examples:

  • A key supplier goes out of business
  • Access to premises disrupted by road works or other construction
  • The key IT system fails (or works but very slowly).

You can never know what will happen and when but you can take steps to keep critical business activity going.

You will probably not recover from an interruption as easily as you think you will but you can takes steps to minimise the impact.

There are inexpensive things you can do to mitigate the worst effects.

  • Assess the impact of interruptions

Interruptions damage your organisation's ability to deliver it's key products and services. An interruption may result in, for instance:

  • Production halted
  • Customers let down
  • Employees not suppliers not paid
  • Critical Information lost.

The impact for your organisation will be one or more of:

  • Loss of revenue from current business
  • Damage to reputation and future business
  • Increased costs (insurance)
  • Litigation - default on contracts.

Many organisation's do not recover from these situations .

Plan for Business Continuity

There are steps you can take to reduce the threats to your organisation and minimise the impact of any interruption.

  1. Understand your organisation - it's key products and services, the critical activities and business priorities
  2. Define the response needed to reduce risk and minimise interruption - what can you do quickly and what should be the overall strategy
  3. Implement the strategy - make the changes that will reduce risk and maintain continuity plans for critical activities in case of interruption
  4. Make business continuity management part of the "business as usual" activities of your organisation.

Business Continuity Planning Process

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

image

The map is available at Biggerplate as the Business Continuity Planning Process map.

__________________________________

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