Software

MindManager for Mac users: A creative way to record and diagram brainstorming sessions

It's difficult to turn an idea into a process with actionable steps and deadlines. Mac users will find that the new features in Mindjet's MindManager 11 address these common application challenges.

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Image: Milkos, Getty Images/iStockphoto

The best way to capture ideas, models, risks, opportunities, and other information has long occupied business professionals, creatives, thinkers, and behaviorists. The challenge has spawned such tools as The Omni Group's OmniGraffle, Literature and Latte's Scapple, and Lucidchart, as well as such popular books as Dan Roam's The Back of the Napkin and Sunni Brown's The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently.

Mindjet's MindManager for Mac adopts a creative approach with its so-called mind-mapping program. MindManager 11.0, with a reasonable 200MB installed footprint, includes numerous new templates to help users quickly begin creating and editing radial maps, flowcharts, timelines, organizational charts, onion and Venn diagrams, concept maps, and more for productivity mapping, meeting and event planning, idea charting, process diagramming, strategic planning, and other purposes.

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The program's menu bar icons (Figure A) are self-explanatory and provide quick access to inserting topic boxes, subtopics, swim lanes, text boxes, images, and similar elements, which simplifies and accelerates capturing ideas and building expandable diagrams, as is common when needing to record ideas, show relationships between elements and objects, brainstorm, add timelines, and generally chart various routines.

Figure A

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The program's design encourages continual adjustment and re-arrangement of components, as well as adding and associating notes, attachments, and links with different objects (Figure B).

The program's curious and intriguing blend of common drag-and-drop actions, along with its publishing and presentation features, enable unusual collaboration and training functionality, while also extending the ability to mix different disciplines, including strategic planning, milestone and deadline specification, diagramming and flowcharting, note-taking, and presentation and publication capabilities. But because MindManager so easily permits re-arranging topics, elements, and ideas, it excels at supporting brainstorming and whiteboard sessions, in particular.

Figure B

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MindManager 11's new Digital Architect adds pre-populated tools. New sample templates include prepopulated forms, including a self-assessment chart, to-do list, brainstorming diagram, detailed event plan, stand-up meeting template, project plan diagram, training plan workflow, business model canvas, various matrices, quarterly timelines, and more.

Leveraging the program's new HTML5 Interactive Map Export enables presenting just those elements you wish, while retaining access to additional drill-down information for various objects and elements. The Presentation mode helps control the content an audience sees in an interactive format that can be embedded within a blog or to social media or posted to the web. The interactivity and ability to collapse sections or expand specific text blocks helps focus attention on individual items as needed.

The program's new publishing features enable publishing maps on the web and sharing corresponding links with anyone. Then, all that is needed to access the interactive file is an internet connection and web browser. Users can publish publicly or privately, in which case a password is added to help restrict access.

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Multiple other export options are supported. Users can export MindManager files using the Share menu to the web as previously described as Word files, as .JPG, .PNG, or .TIFF images, as PDFs, or as text files, RTFs, and OPML files.

The bottom line

MindManager is a creative approach to capturing, shaping, noting, and sharing the results of brainstorm sessions, diagramming efforts, and process reviews, among other activities. To better understand MindManager, it might help to think of the application as a cross between a diagramming tool such as Lucidchart and a free-form mind-mapping tool like Scapple, with a little PowerPoint thrown in for good measure.

A standard license costs $179, while enterprise licenses are available for teams of five or more users. Upgrades for standard licenses for one year run an additional $39.

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About Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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