Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Strengths Mapper interview

Mike Taylor is the owner and developer of Strengths Mapper, and has delivered an excellent interview to Visualmapper for your reading pleasure.

The third party add-in market for Mindjet Mind Manager is a thriving and active arena. You’ll find many interesting add-ins to suit your specific needs. This arena reminds me of what goes on within the Mac world; you get an app for just about anything.

One particular add-in is IMO going to be invaluable; it is called Strengths Mapper. Are you interested in discovering your personal strengths rather than your weaknesses? Also, at a corporate level; do you need to have productive teams consisting of personnel with well defined strengths? If so read on.



About P. Mike Taylor P. E
• 35-year Entrepreneur of 12 Businesses up to $7MM in annual sales
• City Engineer for a city of 200,000
• Licensed Professional Engineer
• Business Coach and Consultant
• Founder (ret.) of a regional consulting engineering firm with 3 offices in 2 states
• Chaired and Vice Chair of $300 MM/yr, 311-bed hospital system
• Director on a regional community bank board: $1.8 billion and 47 branches
• Recipient of numerous community service and business excellence awards and recognition
• Vietnam Veteran with Bronze Star (‘69 – ’70, DMZ)
• Avid MindMapper
• Happily married; 4 children, 6 grandchildren


About Strengths Mapper
P. Mike Taylor, LLC dba www.StrengthsMapper.com is dedicated to:
• helping individuals and teams learn, assimilate, retain, and share personal best strengths
• developing techniques to help assure their clients can put those best strengths to useful purpose every day
• promoting and facilitating continuous, positive personal and organizational growth and development
• using the vivid graphics of mind mapping technology to enhance left- and right-brain learning
• promoting a kinder, gentler approach to sharing our planet through enlightened self-interest

The Interview:

1. You’ve recently released to market Strengths Mapper for Mind Manager: what is this app and what can it do for us?

The application is a personal productivity/team building add-in for Mind Manager that comes in two versions.

In the Basic version, it is a personal development and improvement tool. It is designed to help you discover and embrace your own personal top 5 strengths (talents that can be put to useful purpose) by:
Building your own Personal Strengths Map (PSM);
Developing and enhancing those strengths by a personalized, transportable Action Plan.
Sharing your strengths map with others via vivid graphic posters.


The idea is to create a meaningful framework and dialogue to enhance your ability to work to your best strengths every day.

The Pro version is a tool to enable team leaders and managers to assemble and/or manage their teams to each of team members’ personal best strengths. Building upon the basic version Personal Strengths Maps, the user creates a Talent Pool of PSMs from which to draw. This can be a combination of in-house staff and consultants or specialists from whom they regularly draw.



When either creating a new team, or analysing an existing team, use the wizard to define team Roles and Responsibilities; and, select one or more of the 4 Primary Strength Domain attributes (Striving Skills, Relationship Building Skills, Thinking Skills and Impacting Skills) most likely to facilitate successfully fulfillment of that particular Role and Responsibility.

Once the desired roles and attributes of the team are set, the leader / manager selects the trial team members from the Talent Pool(s). They are, of course, pre-qualified by education and experience to be even considered for a team role, but once that qualification is met, their team chemistry is the focus.

This program automatically summarizes the skill sets by Domain; creates relationship arrow depicting which potential team members possess sought attributes; and, demonstrates whether or not there are skill gaps or mis-matches for talent versus roles and responsibilities.
Then, the manager has an opportunity to decide to either change traditional role assignments; or to select a different team member to better match roles and skills.

2. Why did you choose Mind Manager to be the API of delivery for Strengths Mapper?


This was simply because that was the program I was using, and familiar with; and, it was the most dominant mind mapping program in existence. At 73% market share according to Chuck Frey’s survey, they were the unquestioned leader. The next highest user was at about 10% of market share and then they really dropped off the chart. It is a very feature rich application and had the ability to attach graphics, photos and quotations to enhance and vividly personalize the user’s Personal Strengths Posters.

3. What is the mindset supporting the application of Strengths Mapper?

People work best to their strengths. This is a tool to enhance personal understanding and sharing of those strengths so that they are enabled in that pursuit. It will happen within a genuine framework and dialogue. This is a way to help that to happen. It is also fun to do. I have yet to meet someone who was not fascinated by; and did not engage in conversation about, their Personal Strengths as depicted in a handy and graphically pleasing map. They get it.



4. Is there a connection with the; Strengths Finder 2.0 and Strengths based leadership books?

The theme is that evidence has demonstrated that people are much better at enhancing their natural talents than at overcoming their weaknesses. So the traditional management technique of hiring for education and experience, then hammering on people to overcome their weaknesses is essentially counterproductive (and wrong). People are who they are. The older they are, the more ‘set in their ways’ they become. So, capitalizing on one’s natural talents is more fruitful; and, as the evidence points out, more fulfilling. Working to their strengths, the evidence is that groups of people are more productive, profitable, happier and have lower turnover than their peer groups. Who loses when people are both happier and more productive?



5. Are users of Strengths mapper required to take the on-line Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment?

Yes. They can get them in any book store (the most expensive route); or order them from an on-line vendor like Amazon.com (about $12, currently). If they have a Kindle or an ipod, they can order the electronic version of the book (currently under $10) and have instant access to the key for the 20 minute on-line test. The test is one of those easy, first-impressions tests that even have a 20 second limit on each question. Gallup has a data base of more than 4 million employee’s world wide from which they have devised and refined their strengths test questions.

6. What arenas are Strengths Mapper being used?

What is interesting is that they tout a 70% repeatability of results over time. In other words when individuals take the test again in 5 years or 10 years, they have, on average that high of a consistency of their personal strengths attributes.

7. What’s the difference between the personal use and professional editions of the app?

The personal use edition is really geared to personal growth and development. Understanding what you are best at; honing and developing your best skills; and, sharing them with meaningful people in your life so that you enable them to let youwork to your best strengths.

The pro version is the next step up. How do we put this to best use in groups of people? Define the necessary roles and responsibilities; assign the important attributes to assure success; select from the Talent Pool; and, either adjust the team composition or re-arrange roles to have each team member work to their strengths to the maximum possible. They’ll be happier and more productive; and, you will get your mission accomplished in good order.


8. Is there a correlation between HBDI, Belbin team profiles and Strengths mapper?




Strengths Mapper is a compilation of many best practices concepts. HBDI is a concept of which I am not directly familiar. However, I have read quite a bit on how the human brain receives, processes, stores, and recalls information. Our understanding has certainly changed and progressed with the advent of the EEG real time experiments begun in earnest in 1994. This work, for example, quashed the idea of left brained versus right brained. It did note that both sides are usually involved in activity; and there are specific areas of the brain associated with specific functions. Their relative involvement can be modified by current moods, as well.
Suffice it to say that there is a lot of evidence that assimilation, retention and recall of information is enhanced by graphic depictions over strictly linear, textual representations. Mind mapping is a very useful tool as are many other graphic depiction media.

Belbin team profiles are a fine bit of work done to characterize the enormous myriad of ways in which we humans organize ourselves for various useful purposes. I tried to paraphrase types of work in a similar fashion in our wizard to make it easier for the novel user to complete the process of defining Team Roles and Responsibilities. I also wanted to appeal to the user’s intuitive understanding of their fellow man in building team maps and looking at them in a completely different way than the traditional “Can they design this feature? Can they write the report? Can they present the concept? Can they document the findings and conclusions? Can they complete a project?” I want them to be asking and assigning more of the “Should they...” questions: “Who is the best Relationship Builder to lead the team? Who is the best Impactor to tell the story and/or sell the product? Who is the best person to meticulously document the process, results and conclusions? Who are the best thinkers to generate ideas and to brainstorm? Who is the best gate keeper to keep everyone on schedule and on budget?” That may very well point out non-traditional roles. People need to tuck away their egos to do this well, but once they have the courage and the conviction to do so, the evidence is strongly in their favor. My personal experience over 40 years, and in significant organizations, is that it really works well.


9. How easy is Strengths mapper to use and apply?

According to our alpha and beta tests, users find it quite easy to use. Ease of application will very much depend upon the user. The basic version makes it quite simple to create a Personal Strengths Map to just remind yourself of your best strengths, their definitions, and then to create a portable Action Plan to work on enhancing and honing those strengths. We feel we have made that easy and handy.

Making a PSM poster to share with friends, family and colleagues is also easy with MindManager. And, it makes a non-artist able to make a pretty impressive looking professional piece to share. You can play with colors, line weights, clip art, photos and quotes to really personalize this piece. I believe it will be a very popular attribute of the basic version.

The users of the Pro Version will likely be the more open, progressive, free-thinkers who are more focused on outcomes than on turf and egos. Understanding the concepts and applications is really quite intuitive, once you have created and spent time studying your first team map.

What we have noticed is, once you have created your first team map, you get some real “Aha’s” as to why individuals respond or react in their particular manners to different requests and assignments. You literally change how you interact with them and with their fellow team members to enable working to strengths while focusing on the mission and the overall team environment.

People much prefer being viewed as able as to incompetent. I see a big use for this in the current corporate world where down sizing has left managers with substantially modified teams. They really need to know how to get more done with what they have. Wouldn’t it be something if they could both get more done and have a happier, more profitable team?

10. Are the results something I would want my colleagues, clients and employer to know about?



Very much: How else do you create a framework for; and affect a meaningful dialogue on, what you and they are best equipped to do?

This is not narcissism, it is reality. One of the worst statistics I remember reading was that upwards of 85% of the american population dreaded going to work every day because of their work environment or of mismatched responsibilities and skills. We feel that StrengthsMapper can help change that situation for those who are willing to make that positive change.

11. I found the on-line assessment very accurate, but what about my other potential strengths?

The test results are your Top 5 strengths. In your test result report, Gallup offers personal trainers and coaches who can provide you with the rest of your 34 strengths, rank ordered highest to lowest. If you are serious about corporate or institutional implementation of Strengths Based Leadership / Management, your test results report also points you to additional consulting resources to avail yourselves of. We do not pretend to be organizational coaches or mentors. That is up to the users. We simply provide a powerful, versatile and handy tool to make it happen.



12. What is your elevator conversation piece regarding Strengths mapper?


Evidence and intuition supports that people working to their strengths every day are happier, more productive, and more profitable. StrengthsMapper is a versatile tool to help individuals and organizations effectively put those principles into practice.

13. Where can we download Strengths Mapper for Mind Manager, and what’s the cost?

You can find it at www.StrengthsMapper.com in a free 21-day trial version or for direct purchase.

The basic version of Strengths Mapper sells for $37;

Strengths Mapper Pro sells for $187;

The upgrade from Basic to Pro sells for $157.

There are also hot links on the web site to purchase the StrengthsFinder 2.0 book from which to get your own top 5 top strengths.

2 comments:

Wojciech Korsak said...

Excellent news. Wallace, thank You for sharing the interview. And big thanks for Mike - very interesting view of the mapping topics.

greetings
Wojtek

Kyle McFarlin said...

Wallace,

That 85% statistic about people dreading work is scary as hell. Big ups to anyone taking a team-building tool and putting it into the visual candy that is MindManager. I hope it plays nicely with other add-ins in the MindManager ecosystem... Given it does, I think they'll have a hit on their hands.