Sunday, November 6, 2011

Goalscape for HR; by Richard Parslow of Goalscape

Goalscape is ideal for many HR applications: recruitment, skills and competencies profiling, goal-oriented management and reviews

Recruitment and skills profiling

Hiring, training and retaining the right people are all essential for running a successful business. 

The people who excel at HR and recruitment are very perceptive judges of skills, character and the often-nebulous criterion 'best fit'.  This is usually the result of careful attention to the job specification: establishing the requirements and agreeing their relative importance, then accurately assessing applicants on every aspect.

Extracting a good job specification is a skill in itself.  Managers may have a concept of the ideal candidate, yet find it difficult to express; or they may omit to mention vital aspects because they consider them ‘obvious’.  And if more than one person is involved in the hiring it is even trickier, especially if a senior decision-maker is not going to be present at the interviews.

Evaluating applicants is demanding too, relying in the early stages on Resumes (CVs), previous work (if available) and perhaps personal recommendations from trusted sources.  Face-to-face interviews can be even trickier: social bias (or “beauty contest syndrome”) can take over, so the interviewer chooses the person (s)he likes most, almost regardless of other factors. 

This is the basis of the oft-repeated statistic that interviewers decide within 5 minutes (sometimes less!) whether to hire someone.  While this sometimes works out well, it can cause problems later… and it may even have brought down empires!

Goalscape ‘smart jobspecs’

With Goalscape anyone can easily produce a ‘smart’ job specification that precisely matches all the key requirements.  Because it is extremely fast, all the decision-makers can be involved at an early stage to ensure that nothing vital is omitted and everyone agrees what makes the ideal candidate. 

The manager makes a first draft that covers the specific skills and experience profile for the role.  Senior managers can contribute their ideas – perhaps to check that candidates’ personal goals align with corporate goals or to express a preference about experience in areas not directly related to the role.  Even the team members can contribute to the final specification: team cohesion is vital.

Crucially the Goalscape representation incorporates an agreed assessment or the relative importance of each skill, experience and personality trait.  This automatically applies a weighting to the candidates’ scores in each area.

The screenshot below is a real job specification, which we posted on the web when we were looking for a Data Services Developer.  In this screenshot the ‘Basic Computer Science’ skill is selected, to illustrate the additional detail in the Notes field.

Note that each element has its own section under this skill, each with its own relative importance set. 

The interviewers enter the applicants’ scores for each skill (either on the basis of written submissions and test scores, or interview, or both) as Progress. In producing the overall rating (ie Progress in the Main Goal), Goalscape automatically applies the agreed weightings.  So the person with the highest overall score just is the best candidate, according to the agreed specification!  This supports an analytical approach and reduces the influence of social bias. 

Below is a screenshot of the completed goalscape for the successful applicant (who has since been extremely successful in the role).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mindjet might just put the others out of business!!

Words escape me regarding what Mindjet are attempting to accomplish with their latest acquisitions and extremely intelligent moves to absolutely corner the visual information management market.

The others (competing developers) may indeed be placed into panic mode with the realization they may not be able to compete with the FREE offerings and new acquisitions of Mindjet.

Via the entry level Free offering of Mindjet Connect (Thanks for being reborn) with 1GB of data load, and yes I'll say it again; it's FREE. No excuse ever needed for not experiencing the absolute power of visual information management in and through MindManager any longer.  Mindjet shall exponentially grow their user base through Mindjet Connect. And I do believe many users of Connect at the Free level shall indeed migrate to the business and corporate subscription models for more functions, capabilities and security in the cloud.

Oh! and the mobile editions associated with MindManager are now FREE too.

The Desktop versions for both PC and Mac are the inevitable destination for many who shall experience the Free entry level to Mindjet Connect; and the Acquisition of Cohuman; a social media and team building/management product is ingenious, and this in due course shall be integrated right into the MindManager suite. And need I say; this will be FREE too.

MindManager desktop is a rather expensive product to own, but the serious visual information managers of this century shall indeed brush that issue aside; as the implications and power realized from adopting and infusing MindManager into personal, academic and business environments shall be more than mere finacial cost of having this excellent product.

Personally I'm still trying to get my very small brain around the implications of this ingenious move by Mindjet; so maybe this collage will inspire you to delve a little deeper into the upcoming changes to the apparent unbeatable leader and innovator of visual information management software and services.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Mind mapping arena: Perspectives

Point of view, perception, side, angle; they all mean perspective, and I’m sharing mine.

The mind mapping arena has been good to me; from my perspective, I call it visual mapping and I’ve used the name Visualmapper to define my persona within the visual mapping arena.

My angle has been one of using multiple formats (Visual mapping) compared to using a single format (mind mapping); visual mapping includes but is not limited to mind mapping and other formats such as concept mapping and flow charts.

Whether you’re happy with using a single format or multiple formats, it’s all good as far as I perceive this arena; no problem whatsoever, or is there?

From the perspective of software development; the mind mapping arena is somewhat successful.  Regarding software names and capabilities; Mindjet, CS Odessa, Simtech, MindGenius, NovaMind and Xmind are a few that deserve to be applauded for their software development work.  

Many not mentioned here; they simply clone what the leader such as Mindjet have developed and many indeed make themselves irrelevant to the furtherance of this so called arena, by way of their apparent cloning activities. And if the “other” developers merely have cool functions that add up to maybe a timeline or a different brainstorming capability; hmm, me thinks this arena needs a shakeup altogether.

Who the F**k do you think you are? You may be thinking this if you’re one of the “other” developers.  Well; I’ve been involved within the information management scene for some time, my genesis being within industry.  I’ve used and abused quite a few information management products over the past 25 years, some are excellent and some are not so excellent.

From my perspective; the software mind mapping development arena is without a doubt indebted to Tony Buzan for giving them the initial seed of development motivation.  Many software products though have struggled to get past the perception (by potential users) of the “stuck in a time warp” traditional mind mapping philosophy developed by Mr. Buzan.  A note of recognition also goes to ThinkBuzan; the developers of a truly Buzan approach to software Mind mapping.

I’m personally not a Buzan mapper; yet I do have the utmost respect for what Mr. Buzan initially formalized, and for what it has become in and through the ThinkBuzan flagship product named iMindMap.

The landscape though, certainly is not pretty regarding the plethora (over abundance) of software products that have unashamedly claimed to be mind mapping product.  It really is such a shame to see these other developers merely hijack mind mapping as an SEO advantage.  But; hey its business and these other developer have the right to develop their angle on the traditional Buzan approach to Mind mapping.
Apart from what I view, use and write about; I certainly perceive the mind-visual mapping arena to be an arena based merely on what the developers create and release as viable product.  This product may (or may not) be effectively used within the mainstream information management economy.  A note about the “information economy”; it’s real and tangible by the way we have aggregated data into information and further contextualized into usable knowledge.  Information/knowledge has become the commodity of business success.

The monetary value (ROI) of the data-information-knowledge evolutionary (development) process has indeed been realized through many people, academics and organizations becoming aware of the power of becoming visual information managers; in and through the use of the tools, methods and Mindset of Visual mapping IMO.

There’s a conundrum (puzzle) though; and it’s one relating to why we haven’t experienced a more wide mainstream acceptance of the tools, methods and Mindset of mind-visual mapping. After all; most developers offer really good, capable and effective tools for creating, managing and exchanging (monetary value) data-information-knowledge processes.  The gap between fringe (where many approaches initially live) to mainstream may be read as a chasm.

I personally engage with many of the mind-visual mapping developers, and I must say the majority are definitely most giving and open; when it has come to giving me and the rest of my fellow colleague’s access to their excellent product.

There has been though; an obvious lack of engagement from the developers to the user base (Voice of the Customer); and this has raised its ugly head as discontent (from a user perspective) towards the mainstream developers that cries “WTF are you developing; we didn’t ask for this”.  So it seems to me (my perspective) that we’ve certainly arrived at an impasse of sorts between the users and developers.

This impasse has been revealed by the developers focus on merely competing with their perceived nearest competitor.  This competitiveness is certainly not bad; yet it does seem to have thwarted further relevant development (evolution) of the needs of the voice of the customer (user base).

There are indeed devotees of specific software packages, and I certainly understand this sentiment.  I have a couple of products I simply need to be effective, capable and competitive within the information management arena.

My specific point of view would be one of challenging all developers to take a closer look at their own product and asking a few cutting question such as; are we merely cloning the perceived leaders capabilities and functions, or are we creating functions and capabilities that are enabling a quantum shift in the human condition relating to information/knowledge management.  If you’re not enabling a shift in the way we humans create, manage and exchange data-information-knowledge; well I would challenge you to consider pressing the pause button and re-examining your positioning within this so called arena.

Merely my perspective and I would be pleased to publish your perspective.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Gregory Zhukov Re: Universal Mind Mapping File Format

Greetings from Gregory Zhukov; founder and CEO of CS Odessa to all the readers of the universal mind mapping file format proposal blog at Visualmapper.


I am indeed very pleased and excited to read the enthusiasm and energy behind this idea.  I personally see this (in the long term) as the ability to interoperate between applications in a fluid manner, and also extending this capability to all desktop and web products.

For many years now, users have been asking mind mapping software developers; when will our applications be a standard among individuals and organizations? The answer is; when we provide the conditions for infusing mind mapping into the mainstream.  I believe this condition is provided in the guise of a Unified Business Graphics Format (ubgf).

For the past 5 years at my developer organization (CS Odessa); we have been studying compatibility issues that often occur between our respective mind mapping products and other graphic applications; especially within our own ConceptDraw office productivity suite.  The end result of our work has been realized with the successful integration of our own three software applications of Mindmap, Pro and Project using our "In Gyre Technology".

Looking at the wider implications of the interoperability success we have experienced with our own products; the issue of file standardization was one of those epiphanies that screamed of importance, for CS Odessa, and more importantly for the wider group of mainstream mapping developers too.  The benefit for the end user community is why I am committed to supporting a Unified Business Graphics Format within my particular software and that of my fellow developers at other notable organizations.

From an approach viewpoint I fully agree with Craig Scott that the file format should "not be over engineered"; but make it a well organized step for delivering to mind mapping users a file format which will provide major benefits, and a seamless data exchange of mind mapping data.

The ubgf format (in my opinion) must first of all be focused on servicing the needs of the customer over that of the vendor. Adopting an existing format may be a consideration, but I challenge our fellow developers to push their thinking further, and think out of the box.

It's simply not about any particular developer at all; it's all about, IMO; a collective work of immense importance for the furtherance of the products we, as developers, produce. 

Let’s agree to work together for the purpose of building a better file framework to help address customer requirements of interoperability and also assist the drive for mainstream adoption.

May I suggest the first order of business is to identify all of us (developers) who have an interest in this project to assemble in a group on Linkedin?  We can rough out our objectives regarding how we may work together on this significant groundbreaking project.

I have taken the bold step of opening a Linkedin forum titled; Mind Map Developers - Unified Business Graphics Format Group.

Best regards

Gregory Zhukov



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mind mapping: the ideal information exchange medium

During my many years of consultancy; I have noticed one aspect of the power of mind mapping that is recognized by all of my colleagues and clients alike.  It’s the use of a mind map to graphically convey, communicate and present data, information and knowledge.

The graphical capabilities of most of the mainstream mind mapping products are borderline Photoshop.  The ability to insert, manipulate and position images into the framework of a map has been one of the functions that have been the focus of my work as a consultant.

The use of images and icons within a mind map; borders also on the Information Architecture/User Experience arenas and the graphical facilitation arena. I don’t classify myself as being qualified to distinguish my skill set within the mentioned professional arenas; yet it is clear to me that we information management types bisect (on many occasions) the established professions of the IA/UX and graphical facilitation arenas.

Here’s an image I shared with a colleague relating to the Ford Production System (FPS).  FYI; the software used to create this map image was Mindjet MindManager 9; this is IMO the most polished and capable product for creating this kind of result.
The Image above was used as a means to convey, communicate and present (to both staff and labor) the basic understandings and self auditing capabilities (potentials) of all employees.  This approach to using mind mapping mixed with paragraphs of text as questions/instructions and inserted relevant images were noted as being extremely powerful as an information exchange medium.

If you are using mind mapping within your established business environment; consider using this format of use as the ideal information exchange medium.

I would be pleased to help you use mind mapping in this way to enable a more unambiguous format for information exchange within your organization.  I personally printed this image off as an extremely large (poster) format.  This image was placed strategically at positions within a manufacturing facility.  The feedback was excellent, and the employees regardless of position were impressed enough to make note of the power of the mapped format for future information/training use.

Let me know how and where you use mind mapping in this way and the feedback from your colleagues, suppliers, staff and labor?

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I recently received communication from Gregory Zhukov; president and founder of CS Odessa based in the Ukraine. Gregory has proposed the standardization of an Universal mind map file format.  This is not new of course Vic Gee wrote of this during 2007 and nothing came of it.  So this proposal comes at an opportune time IMO.
The proposal of a universal mind mapping file format coming from a mainstream developer rather than a consultant/writer is rather significant though.

I certainly understand the leading mind mapping software developer, may indeed perceive this proposal as a threat to their established and most deployed/exchanged mapping format.  And; for the smaller developers; this would simply be perceived as an open door to the larger developers market place.

Let's not forget about the users; they are the most important part of the process that enables the further use, development and evolution of all respective software products.  The users are privately asking for some kind of standardized  XML format that can be read across product range.

Regardless of the perception of this proposal; an open mind and forward thinking philosophy may be best rested upon for this proposal.  The plethora of software products relating to mind mapping as a base graphical function and capability has, even until this time, struggled to break into the mainstream.

At this time; Mindjet, CS Odessa, NovaMind, ThinkBuzan, Simtech, Matchware, MindGenius and Seavus are to mention but a few (apologies if you're not mentioned here) product developers that are, and remain to be relevant.  Cloud developers such as Comapping and Mindmeister are without a doubt leading the cloud Mind mapping revolution.

So maybe; just maybe this proposal by Gregory Zhukov as a mainstream software developer; may spark positive debate and an outcome that gains more exposure for mind-visual mapping products period.

So here's Gregory's proposal, it is verbatim of an email invite that was posted to quite a few developers and thought leaders within the mapping arena.  And; I look forward to reading Gregory's input and feedback, which shall be posted as a new and separate blog post; in order to create a clear and unambiguous reply.

Wallace Tait: visualmapper

Fellow developer colleagues,

Mind mapping software users have for some time, been voicing their frustrated need for a universal mind map file format (ummap).  This would make it so much more convenient for users to effortlessly share mapped information with fellow mapping users who may use alternative mapping products.

The growing number of mind mapping product logically express a critical need for standardization.  At this time; the dominant obstacle to a mainstream adoption of mind mapping product is the lack of an ummap format enabling interoperability in and through a wide scope of information processing product.

Gregory Zhukov; president/founder of CS Odessa cordially invites you to join a round table group of fellow mind mapping developer organizations. The purpose of collectively developing an ummap format would be for the benefit of participating developers with a laser focus on current and potential end users.

The ummap format would indeed be a new standard that shall remove many barriers to market adoption of Mind mapping software product.

By participating in this initiative we shall collectively benefit by:
  1. Ensuring attachment (embedding) requirements are addressed
  2. Solving compatibility between products
  3. Realizing a wider marketplace exposure
  4. Developing standardized benchmarks that address the real needs of information management
  5. Enabling interoperability with a wider group of business products
  6. Improving customer satisfaction
Raise your hand of interest in this revolutionary change to the Mind mapping arena. With your participation; the work is about to begin.
Best Regards
Gregory Zhukov

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Marcus Baur of Goalscape: guest post

Why the Visual Overview is Vital
For Success in Sport, Business and Life
Marcus Baur, Goalscape Software

As a professional sailor I desperately wanted compete at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.  I had already done quite well and had won a few national regattas; but had not had much success at top level.  The Olympics is a serious challenge and I was no likely candidate.  But I just loved sailing the exciting new boat that had been chosen for the next Games; and I was fanatically determined to sail against the world’s best sailors on one of the most beautiful stretches of water anywhere: Sydney Harbor.  So I set out on the journey with my sailing partner, neither of us having any idea what a roller-coaster ride it would be.

The challenge before us was complex.  The 49er was a new class of boat that hardly anybody could handle and we had very little experience to build upon.  We also knew we would have to take our racing skills and our physical fitness to completely new levels, as well as learning to sail the boat.  And on top of all that we had organized everything ourselves and raise the money for what to many seemed like a 4-year holiday.  Of course the reality was a lot of hard work with long days and plenty of ups and downs.  It was intense, but very rewarding because we were really focused on our shared dream goal – and we loved to sail the boat for hours at a time, day after day. 

We had incredibly long to-do lists, so it was frustrating and stressful trying to fit in everything we had to do each day.  I knew that if we were to reach our goal, we had to approach this challenge in a better way.  Setting the right priorities is easier said then done when entering uncharted territory: there always seemed too much to do and resources were scarce.  But the clock was ticking, so we had to prioritize if we were to achieve anything at all.

What I needed was a visual map to show the entire structure of the challenge: every goal and subgoal.  I wanted to fly over the landscape of goals and get the view from 30,000 feet: seeing all the goals at once and the connections between them.  What’s more I had to track our progress in every area so I could always see exactly where we were in order to decide what to do next.

So I came up with the Goalscape goal map.  A multi-level pie chart seemed to be the best way to break down the huge challenge into specific goals and subgoals in every area.  The circle represented the fact that our resources were limited: when we spent time, money and energy in one area, we could not spend it anywhere else.  
My first goalscape chart covered only the boat handling area, a specific part of sailing that is particularly important in the 49er class.

The boat is so difficult to sail that many international champions from other classes spent most of their time upside-down – and quite a few of them quit.  My goalscape displayed ALL the maneuvers we needed to perform during a race.  On the goal map we gave the most important maneuvers (those that contributed most to our success on the racecourse) the biggest slices. 

For each maneuver the goal was to perform it automatically without thinking about it, so that we had all our brain capacity available for strategic and tactical decisions.  And on each goal we marked our progress by filling in its slice, so we could literally see our skills improving all the time.

We soon realized that this system could also be used very effectively in other areas like fitness, gear testing and tuning for speed, or planning our logistics and financials. 
Being able to actually SEE the challenge like this certainly helped us to be better organized and to improve faster in our sailing: we climbed to the top of the world rankings and qualified to represent our country at the Olympic games.  So we achieved our first major goal!

As we progressed through our campaign, we had been re-evaluating our goals: changing the relative importance of each to match the requirements of the next phase.  By the time we arrived in Sydney we were set on winning a medal.