Thursday, December 31, 2015

If they're all the same; where's the innovation?

Another short thought blog by Visual Mapper

If they're all the same; where's the innovation?

For me, it's clear there's divisions within the visual mapping arena. And let's be straight, the word “arena” is used loosely when defining an area that visual mapping belongs to. It may be imagined.

But firstly I'll use the term “visual mapping” to define where we're at regarding software tool development. Mind mapping came first, and IMO Mr. Tony Buzan is the embedded acceptance as being the author and founder of hand drawn mind mapping. So let's not argue about that sticky subject for some. Yup, there's concept mapping too, but that is indeed a different animal.

The “arena” is indeed a sticky one for me, as we use that term almost flippantly to gesture away any potential challenges to there being an actual arena in the first place. But, the arena definition is in fact propped up, or was originally developed and propped up by a cottage industry like fervour for the mind mapping tool to become an accepted and viable software tool for ideation and information mapping.

This “cottage industry” was originally a single person or team approach that took mind mapping from being a hobby pastime software development to being something that seemed to be a viable commercial offering. That is; if it was marketed well, and further developed as a tool that could be integrated with other real mainstream tools. Has this ever happened in reality?

Okay; so it's taken us quite a few years to get to where we are today regarding software offerings. We even have cloud integration now; and even a couple have evolved into relational database approaches.

Price? Back in the genesis days, the software was super affordable, yes it had rudimentary capabilities in the early days. Looking at what we have available these days seems like an evolutionary synaptic explosion has occurred. Oh my: we have software products such as iMindMap, Mindjet MindManager, ConceptDraw Office, MindGenius, Xmind, MindMapper and many others; the list goes on.

But here's the thing; the visual mapping products are all beginning to suffer that dreaded auto sector curse of uniformity. Yup they're all looking pretty similar regarding capabilities and functions; the only thing that separates them is user interface. Whilst there's nothing wrong with that at all; the arena offerings boil down to UI look and feel and yes price.

So; If they all offer the same capabilities and functions: where's the innovation?

I personally haven't seen much innovation other than the inclusion of Gantt charts; and SimTech were the first to offer that along with MS Word integration many years ago before any other developer.

So; what innovation do you expect or even demand from the developers? And the question of identity through “arena”; what's your thoughts? And if it just boils down to price due to the uniformity of capabilities and functions; who's going to win there?

I won't blab on any further, as that's all it becomes; blabbing.

Time for you to blab now.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Introductions matter; don't they?

Another short thought blog by Visual Mapper

Introductions matter; don't they?

Do you recall the first time you became acquainted with Mind mapping? Oh my, I do and it was at a time when I just didn't need another frigging tool to learn. I was involved with a company as a contracts controller within the clean room modular construction business.

Motorola was the client at that time and we (middle management) were required to go through a course of statistical process control that was eventually called the Six sigma green and black belt certifications. Oh I hated the fact that I had to basically go back to school again, and I thought the math was going to demolish me.

Back in that day we used a real rudimentary (at that time) minitab type of software that saved my arse regarding the calcs and statistical charting. My software list of tools was growing monthly at that time and I must admit I was ill prepared for the advancements in information management, as I was and still am old school. But I persevered and eventually, as we all do, reached that point of proficiency.

And then my boss asked me to attend with him to an introduction to this thing called Mind mapping. Hey I went because my boss said so, and the food and drink was a freebie; it seemed like a relaxing night out.

The presenter introduced Mind mapping, gave us a book called mindmapping by Joyce Wycoff, spoke about the inventor of mind mapping called Tony Buzan and gave everyone crayons and large sheets of paper. (And no, we didn't get any books by Mr Buzan at that time); I thought to myself, “I need another vodka”. So here I was, over worked, stressed and in need of another self medicating drink. And then we started to mind map out a few of our specific business processes, and almost immediately I had what I later came to define as an “INSIGHT”.

That insight was this; holy sh** I can actually get a birds eye view of all of our relevant processes that control our daily operations by the overviews presented within this damn mind map. My boss was a little more vociferous than me, as we both are Glasgow boys born and bred; the expletives came hard and fast.

We went home after doing the maps and pondered the implications of using mind mapping within our business model. The next day my boss and I decided to see if we could create what I now call a master map of all of our business processes. It worked a treat, but went through a sh** load of large format paper and wrote all over the walls that weren’t actually white boards.

A few weeks passed and I was merrily feeling rather unstressed as I could keep tabs on our processes, and I even mapped out our business system that was in the process of being certified to the precursor to ISO9001 called BS 57/50, yup BS.

I started to flowchart the business system out using a mainstream MS product and found it awful for realizing my new mind mapping skill set. And then I came across a mind mapping software; I can't actually recall the name, but it may have been called Mind Maps or Visimap. It changed everything for me as a fledgling information manager. All these years later, and exposure to many software product and changes in career, I now define myself as a knowledge mapper.

But that initial introduction: Oh my it mattered so much and forced a change process in me that has taken me through many loops of continuous improvement as a person, manager, consultant and teacher.

I do hope you have your unique story to tell; please feel free to share right here at Visual Mapper.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Still waiting for that mainstream breakthrough?

Another short thought blog by Visual Mapper

Still waiting for that mainstream breakthrough?

It may be the same old same old for the mind mapping arena: well, regarding seeing a real breakthrough into the mainstream for mapping product this year, but things may be changing.

For me, there has been a rot within the mapping arena for the past few years, and IMO the mapping arena has gone through a series of challenges that have equated to faux pas.

From attempting to force a subscription model rather than a desktop (ownership) model was one that threw the cat amongst the pigeons in the past years; and that developer lost me due to that foolish move.

And then the absent mindedness of developers who misunderstood the relevance of the desktop to cloud sync process in the absence of an attachment embedding function. I do believe this has been given attention by most developers now. This has bemused and annoyed users to a degree, as it's so clear the data (attachments) must be embedded into the graphical framework of a map in order for it to be uploaded via a sync function to an available framework service.

The attachment embedding function for many developers was like putting the cart before the horse. Those developers who decided to go full cloud service kind of missed the relevance of the data load. Yes we load our mind maps with attachments and in these days of large data load and transfer, we need a large data load transfer capability to cloud sync capability. And thus the single file architecture comes into view and I'm sure most developers are saying “oh ***k how did we miss that do we deal with this shift?

For many, databases have become a daily single point of interaction with their private internet of things associated with personal development, academic enhancement and business productivity. Having access to our personal database across multiple devices is not only essential but now expected and even demanded. And that is where the single file architecture is simply no longer capable enough to handle the data load, speed expectations and availability between platforms of desktop to cloud and devices.

The real issue for this internet of things that shall influence the mapping arena is the stability of internet, readily available synced data, information and knowledge, and available data load that is packaged (moved) and stored with encryption and security in mind.

Will this encryption and security level be realized? Hmm; I’m still hedging my bets here, as it's very clear the web is certainly having an ownership issue regarding the movement of data, information and knowledge that is both legal and verified as safe and allowable. I just don't know how that's going to be managed by the agencies that have obviously laid claim to our personal data in the past few years of international turmoil.

I digress of course (as usual); but the mainstream mind/visual mapping breakthrough might just come via a few very relevant products that have propped up this so called arena for some time now.

I sincerely wish ALL developers the very best of luck with these challenges for 2016, and further hoping to see more innovation and creativity being unleashed by these awesome developers. We need disruption and I hope to see that during 2016.

IMO (and it's merely my opinion); the most relevant products of 2015 have been:

Yes there are many others, but IMO the above links are the most relevant.

Maybe I should rename these blogs as “blab blogs” rather than short “though blogs”. Blogs are never complete, they merely post a mindful snapshot of thoughts. Regardless; I do hope you've enjoyed this blog. Your opinions matter and I want to encourage you to contribute via your comments.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

I know a few Consultants

Another short thought blog by Visual Mapper

I know a few Consultants: connect with them

I've worked with a few of them, I associate very closely with most of them and I highly recommend all of them. These consultants? let's say I have something in common with them. The common thread that runs through our relationship, is the fact that, we have all arrived at that single point, epiphany or insight regarding the absolute power and advantages of graphical knowledge management.

And that insight motivates us to be better consultants that drives, encourages and sometimes aggressively pushes each other into new places of learning and eventually teaching/consulting.

That insight?
It's the realization that we are a collective of Knowledge management consultants/developers who understand procedure, process and system to the point of going beyond standards of continuous improvement espoused by current business management systems. We expose each other, our clients and other colleagues to the mind/visual/knowledge mapping tools, techniques and mindsets that actually drives us to create, manage and share our insights.


Wow; how was that for being long winded and the bad grammar eh? But this is a short thought blog, and who cares about blabbing and grammar; right?

But, for the most part we all must needs take you through the time line of our own personal epiphanies and insights in order to enable you too somewhat experience or get a vision of where we started and why we are here now offering the services as a deliverable through our business models. Feel free to connect with anyone listed at the provided link at the bottom of this short thought blog.

Most listed are either consultants and/or software developers within the mind/visual/knowledge mapping/management arenas. All are extremely capable to assist, teach and consult with you regarding your needs associated with making you a much better data, information and knowledge handler. They all use one or more graphical mapping tools to enable you to become a more effective knowledge manager.

The skill sets of these consultants runs through and integrates within all three arenas of personal development, academic enhancement and business productivity.

Here's the link: now go connect with them and start your journey through the mind bending arena of knowledge mapping.

Friday, December 25, 2015

ConceptDraw: the complete package, and then some

Another short thought blog by Visual Mapper

ConceptDraw: the complete package, and then some

Take the time to visit and it won't take you long before you realize CS Odessa; the developer, offers a complete software package for your graphical knowledge mapping/management needs. And yes, it is indeed a complete offering that covers personal development, academic enhancement and business productivity tool-sets.


These tools are 3:
  1. ConceptDraw Pro: The undeniable leader of the graphical charting arena
  2. ConceptDraw Mind Map: A most capable Visual mapping tool
  3. ConceptDraw Project: A very user friendly management scheduling tool

Yes these are 3 independently operating products, yet the power of these 3 are integrative. These three awesome products speak to each other, read each others file formats and populate data, information and knowledge between each others interface via the proprietary InGyre process. This is all able to be viewed in a dashboard ; ConceptDraw being the first to integrate a dashboard approach. And the even more awesome portion of this integrative approach is the Solution Browser.

The solution browser is a central management tool that offers a space where a huge list of apps (add-ins) are made available for this suite of products at the Solution Park; There's over 150 solutions to date and the list is ever growing. The solution park cuts out the middle men of app development for this suite by being controlled by CS Odessa, and that's the best approach IMO.

I've used ConceptDraw for some years now, and as much as I have access to other competing products, the pure genius of the independent yet integrative approach makes ConceptDraw as individual products and as an office suite offering unbeatable.

Affordable? Of course it is; the ConceptDraw product range can be purchased individually or as an Office suite. I personally have the Office suite as it suits my business model needs perfectly. Ideal for personal development, academic enhancement and business productivity. Oh and I use ConceptDraw products on both PC and Mac.

So go visit and be amazed at their offerings. The product is truly cross-platform providing both PC and Mac users with parity between platforms regarding capabilities and functions.