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Ongoing Management through Mind Map, Outline, Project Plan

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  • Ongoing Management through Mind Map, Outline, Project Plan

    I'd like to hear what support material people use to "work" their projects. Part of the nice thing about GTD is the flexability: basically review everything at the weekly review, identify anything that can be done, trash support material you no longer need, and keep going.

    All that being said, what do people use on the "formal" side of organizing their project tasks & deliverables and tracking them. A formal project plan? A mind-map with annotations for completed/incomplete tasks? An outline?

    Many of the things I have as projects are actual projects (I'm a project manager), but my GTD organization for such a project and the project plan itself AREN'T the same thing. My GTD stuff seems to be more focused on what do I or key people need to be doing to keep the project going, while the formal project plan integrates the activity of the group at a higher level. For example, "Hold Kickoff Meeting" is a task in the project plan for project X, but my GTD outline/next actions/mind map for that might be since I'm the responsible one

    * "Brainstorm Ideas for Kickoff meeting"
    * "Draft kickof meeting presentation"
    * "Do trial run through of kickoff meeting presentation with boss"

    etc.

  • #2
    I use mind mapping for PM all the time

    furashgf - you and I have chatted about this (and other topics) before but for those new to the forum, here's a post I made a while back about how I integrate mind mapping, Outlook, MS Project, and the Palm for project definition and management:

    http://www.davidco.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=821

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    • #3
      Hmm... So your big projects have a mind-map, dynamically linked to a project plan, with exports to outlook.
      I've been using the open-source FreeMind, which lacks these exporting capabilities. I tried doing the paper-and-pencil mind maping, and it wasn't productive for me - I liked being able to play with the map and reorganize it.
      Is the mindjet product really worth it? It looks like it's over $100 or so in US dollars.

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      • #4
        Mindmap

        I have been using it for nearly 4 years. I think it is worth it. You should try their trial version and see if it works for you. If you have both outlook and MS Project on your computer then, this tool will blend in easily.

        For the last two years I was using the Bonsai (palm and desktop) to organize my projects. The current version is very good. But I am now switching my project planning and tracking to Mindmanager (mindjet) and feeling very peaceful

        Mindmanager is not the only mindmapper. There are others out there which you can search for. I don't know if all of them have Outlook link capability.

        In summarry, if you like the mindmapping process, then investing in one of these software packages is worth it.

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        • #5
          Mindjet works best with Outlook

          I've tried virtually every mind mapping tool I can find and nothing has better Office integration than Mindjet's product. With the recent release of MindManager X5, Mindjet has followed Microsoft's lead and embraced an XML data structure for their files. The real win from this is yet to come, but the folks at Mindjet have continually improved integration with Outlook, Project, PowerPoint, and Word with every release.

          It's not a cheap program, to be sure. And there are great free and inexpensive alternatives. But if you want/need seamless integration with Office, this is the way to go.

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          • #6
            As part of the GTD recommendation, I started doing mindmaps. I didn't like it, didn't find it THAT productive (though it was fun to use different colored pens).
            When I switched to freemind, the quality (i.e., number of useful ideas) jumped exponetially. Being able to move stuff around, delete, and add made it very useful.
            According to the GTD recommendation, you then, if neccesary, start planning in some tree-like fashion (WBS, Project Plan, Outline, etc.). However, it seemed to me that with a good enough Mind Mapping program, you could skip that for all projects but those that actually had to be planned in a formal project plan.

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            • #7
              MindManager Promotion

              Since I registered for the Project World 2004 conference in LA, I also received a direct mail promotion from MindJet. Basically it's $189 for MindManager X5 Pro instead of the regular price of $299. Because of the promotion, resources on their website and feedback from several forums including this one, I've decided to give it a try and ordered it this morning. I hope it works out well for me.

              www.mindjet.com/us
              Promotion code: PWLA2004

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              • #8
                Mind mapping is great for lightweight projects

                Originally posted by furashgf
                According to the GTD recommendation, you then, if neccesary, start planning in some tree-like fashion (WBS, Project Plan, Outline, etc.). However, it seemed to me that with a good enough Mind Mapping program, you could skip that for all projects but those that actually had to be planned in a formal project plan.
                That's been my experience. Unless you need to track dependencies or want the Gannt chart timeline, a mind map can be a great project management tool. With MindManager X5 Pro, the hand off to and synchronization with MS Project is seamless.

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                • #9
                  Is it one way or two way synchronization? That is, can I create a hyperlink to a task, or does it just put the tasks in Outlook, then I have to keep it up to date in the map.

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                  • #10
                    It's two way, all the way

                    Originally posted by furashgf
                    Is it one way or two way synchronization? That is, can I create a hyperlink to a task, or does it just put the tasks in Outlook, then I have to keep it up to date in the map.
                    Two way all the way, baby! With both Outlook and Project. This is one the reasons I think Mindmanager is head and shoulders above all of the rest of the tools I've looked at.

                    On a side not, I just switched to a Tablet PC and MM rocks! It's a completely ink-enabled application that really takes advantage of the platform.

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                    • #11
                      I'm now addicted to MindMapping since I got Freemind. I'm skipping the outlining step except for individual tasks. I'll start putting $ away for FreeMind.

                      However, I think the Tablet PC should be excluded from your blogs. Your blogs used to be about how normal joes, for a few bucks, could make themselves more productive. Of course, for $3000, I can improve my productivity.

                      Or, maybe your blog could be titled "Marc has way cooler tools than you!"

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                      • #12
                        Now that wouldn't be fair

                        Originally posted by furashgf
                        I'm now addicted to MindMapping since I got Freemind. I'm skipping the outlining step except for individual tasks. I'll start putting $ away for FreeMind.

                        However, I think the Tablet PC should be excluded from your blogs. Your blogs used to be about how normal joes, for a few bucks, could make themselves more productive. Of course, for $3000, I can improve my productivity.

                        Or, maybe your blog could be titled "Marc has way cooler tools than you!"
                        Gary:

                        I don't think I'm ever going to be Tablet PC-centric on the blog but there are a lot of folks who are curious. I picked up the unit I'm using for about $2100 after rebates which is a pretty standard price for a good laptop these days so I don't buy the premium aspect.

                        All that aside, my focus has always been and will always be finding cool tools and tips. Today, for example, I posted about a nice piece of freeware. I'm definitely more of a software-focused guy in any event. It's just fun to write about new hardware and the little epiphanies you have while you're breaking it in

                        Finally, I do have cool tools. It was a point of negotiation when I interviewed for my current position

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                        • #13
                          One of the other criminal justice agencies I work with has moved to tablet PCs. You rarely see them with paper anymore at meetings. The technology finally seems ready for prime time.

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                          • #14
                            There's not enough software... yet

                            Originally posted by furashgf
                            One of the other criminal justice agencies I work with has moved to tablet PCs. You rarely see them with paper anymore at meetings. The technology finally seems ready for prime time.
                            I can't believe the freedom this unit provides me. There's not enough software yet that really takes advantage of the pen interface though. Even Microsoft hasn't gotten Office 2003 pen-ready (we need to wait for Lonestar, which is part of XP SP2 for that - now due this Fall).

                            But I'm groovin' on the ability to carry this lightweight powerhouse around with great WiFi everywhere in our building and 4.5 hour battery life!

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