Over the last six months, we’ve witnessed more transformative, collaborative innovation taking place than ever before. We’re not only excited to be a part of this huge influx of communal ideation, but can’t wait to see how it continues to shape various industries, cultures, and breakthrough technologies. Mindjet’s INQ Magazine: Innovation for the Enterprise, is a great way for us to curate and highlight key innovations and ideators in the global community.
Our Third Issue: Humanitarian Innovation for the Greater Good
In our Q3 2014 edition, we’ve featured a selection of rich, insightful content focused on humanitarian innovation that drives positive change and returns that go far beyond the financial. Issue #3 highlights UNHCR’s global crowdsourcing initiatives to support refugees, teachers who bring innovation straight to students, Cambia Health’s advancements in palliative care, socially-driven examples of human ROI, and much more.
We’re honored and proud to be able to showcase these top examples of humanitarian innovation at work, and we hope they inspire even more acts of innovation for the greater good.
Get your copy here, and stay tuned for the next issue, coming October 2014!
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A couple of weeks ago, a favorite client of mine approached me about facilitating a Rapid Spigit at his office. This client, a strong advocate for the practice of collaborative innovation as a means of helping his organization find meaning in trends, wanted to pursue a Rapid Spigit to give his colleagues a “taste” while engaging them on a critical business matter.
What is a Rapid Spigit Challenge?
A Rapid Spigit is a live, in-person complement to a standard collaborative innovation challenge that SpigitEngage enables, which typically lasts from a few days or even weeks, and is pursued virtually. Clients host Rapid Spigits to engage their attendees in a compelling way to “get the juices flowing” at off-site meetings, all hands sessions, and customer advisory boards. They are fun and engaging in the way that competitive problem-solving can be fun and engaging.
Figure 1 shows the application space for Rapid Spigits in the context of the collaborative innovation space. For example, clients have successfully pursued Rapid Spigits both internally, with associates, and externally, with clients at advisory board sessions.
Figure 1: where clients apply Rapid Spigits in the overall practice space
Here, the client wished to explore possibilities around a promising new market opportunity tied to the farm-to-table movement (i.e., the thoughtful consumption of locally produced food). Approximately thirty people from across the organization participated in the Rapid Spigit over lunch. My client offered the universal currency of free pizza to entice his colleagues to participate.
Findings and Results
My first observation on outcomes? Whereas the “usual suspects” in marketing and product development participated, an associate in customer service contributed what the community adjudged the compelling, promising idea.
How? This associate enjoys strong ties to her local community: the local high school and the local farmers who work the fields outside of town. Her immersion in this environment, a natural extension of what matters to her, gave her insight into the market that the organization was considering how best to serve. She’s now part of the conversation. I continue to be amazed by the gifts people bring to the table, above and beyond whatever their title or role might indicate.
My second observation on outcomes? My client now has half the organization thinking about his problem with him. He’s told me that a number of people have since approached him to brainstorm with him, further, based on their own experiences. In the knowledge economy, share of market starts with share of mind.
Click here to download my presentation for the event. I added a slide with pictures of the event. Participants access the Rapid Spigit site from their laptops or smartphones.
Your Call to Action
What do you think? How might you gain share of mind? Please drop me a line in the comments section.
Ever hear about or play the game “Hot potato”? The game’s objective is for players to sit in a circle and pass a “hot” potato around the circle as quickly as possible until the music stops. The object of hot potato is to not be the one holding the potato when the music stops. No one wants the hotthis very same scenario apply to corporate innovation? There is a phenomenon in innovation I like to call “Hot Potato Syndrome.” It is when there is an idea that everyone thinks is great, but is continually passed around in circles from one organization to another. Clearly everyone supports the idea in theory but no one is willing to take ownership to lead it to implementation.
Are ideas seen as “hot potatoes,” even if the idea is widely accepted, supported, and strategic? Sometimes it is the ideas that could provide the most impact because they affect multiple parts of the organization that fall into this bucket. But how can you avoid hot potato syndrome? In my experience, it sometimes feels that way, so I decided to explore what are the root causes to this very common scenario. Below are some ways to recognize and deal with this phenomenon so that you can finally land the hot potato in the right person’s hands, and it is a potato they need.
Identifying a work stream that has a defined need for the idea is always the first option. If an idea can garner support based on its relevance to the work streams strategy, the idea will get the attention and ownership it needs to drive forward. It is important to establish accountable individuals based on the type of work stream they are associated will make them more willing to take on an idea. Creating accountability and ownership in the business is critical to avoiding the “hot potato” syndrome and giving people ownership to move forward with ideas they feel are important to their work stream.
Facilitate Leadership Teams to Assess and Come to Consensus
Creating a forum to facilitate a working session with a clear objective may help in understanding the true potential of an idea and driving ownership and responsibility necessary to implement. Set up touch points throughout your organization to share ideas, create forums for those individuals to discuss and share. There is truth when they say it takes one person to have an idea, but it takes an army to implement. Setting up different people to be part of the “troop” will help in garnering support and responsibility. Sometimes pulling together the people that may be interested or who have already assessed the ideas can be the ones that devise the best course of action for the idea.
Connect Ideators with Potential Owners
Getting the person who came up with the idea in front of those that have not made decision will often times produce a result. Being able to have the person with the passion and the insight to elaborate on the potential impact of the idea is important to decision making. If the Ideator can appropriately convince a leader of the need and impact of the idea, then the idea will have more relevance and most times a decision can be reached more quickly.
I find most companies I work with suffer from a case of hot potato syndrome. To help avoid this, the above techniques to facilitate discussion, drive action and create ownership will yield results.
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Few entrepreneurs or self-employed professionals look forward to preparing new business proposals. And, I suspect, even fewer of their clients and prospects look forward to reading them.
Many new business proposals are doomed to fail because of reasons like:
- Length. Many proposals are too long and too detailed. They take too much time for sellers to prepare, and too much time for prospects to evaluate.
- Focus. Many proposals over-emphasize the seller’s capabilities, and fail to place enough emphasis on the buyer’s needs and benefits.
In the absence of conciseness and a meaningful discussion of buyer benefits, many proposals end up depending on price as the most important selling and decision tool.
Price-first strategies may be appropriate for corporations selling to corporations, but smaller businesses need a simpler, faster, and more agile way to prepare and present new business proposals.
Many years ago, William McKinley, a friend of mine who was on the business and sales faculty of the University of Washington, introduced me to a proposal development system he had been using for over twenty-five years of successful entrepreneurship. His ideas formed the basis for my Mindjet Proposal Planner (available for download here), the latest addition to my Content Dashboard.
The resulting Proposal Planner provides focus and encourages conciseness, and builds on several of MindManager’s features, such as the ability to:
- Manage time and resources, such as identifying start dates and dues dates, and indicating task dependencies (i.e., relationships between the completion of one task and the start of the next task).
- Compute costs inside the mind map, eliminating the need to transfer data back and forth from a spreadsheet program to the map (and, often, back again).
- Present “virtual proposals.” This involves walking clients step-by-step through a proposal, in person or online, focusing their attention and soliciting feedback in real time. This is far more efficient than “submitting a proposal” and waiting for a response.
Putting the New Business Proposal Planner to Work
Selectivity plays a key role in the New Business Proposal Planner mind map. This involves identifying and focusing on the prospect’s most important areas of concern and addressing their goals as concisely as possible. The map is based on a simple 6-topic structure:
- Areas of concern. Begin by focusing on customer issues, rather than describing your product, services, or competitive advantages. State the key issues as concisely as possible, providing a few supporting details or reveal quotes added as Notes or subtopics. Your goal at this point is simply to confirm your understand the main issues your prospect would like to see improved.
- Objectives. Next, restate each area of concern as a proposal goal. The easiest way to do this is to write a goal, or objective, statement beginning with “To…” Follow with words like reduce, eliminate, increase, improve, maximize, etc. In this step, and in the following, be sure to address each topic in the same sequence used in the Areas of concern.
- Recommendations. Next, add subtopics containing your recommendations for achieving the objectives. Avoid unnecessary detail. Introduce the major deliverables (i.e., your products and services needed for each step), and briefly describe their contribution to achieving the proposal’s objectives.
- Benefits. Next, re-visit each area of concern and point out the benefits of solving the prospect’s problems or helping them accomplish their goals. Be as concrete as possible. Avoid introducing benefits that don’t address the original areas of concern.
- Investment. Follow-up the benefits by describing the investment needed to achieve them. A simple, straightforward list of what you will charge for various products and/or services works best. With the latest versions of MindManager, you can use the Calculate feature to compute the costs associated with each task. When appropriate, insert Topics to group related tasks together. (If you do this, provide a subtotal for each group of costs.) You can also add Notes to present options, (if appropriate) and to describe your payment terms and schedule. To keep your proposal map as simple as possible, refer prospects to the Addendum for additional information.
- Schedule. This is a very important section; it allows you to create a credible incentive for prospects to accept your proposal as quickly as possible. Prepare this section as if your proposal had already been accepted. Start with Date of proposal acceptance (or set a deadline for next week). Assuming that your proposal will be accepted, insert subtopics describing the work to be done. Add MindManager’s Start Dates and Due Dates for each task. This will emphasize that any delay accepting the proposal pushes back all future dates! This creates urgency, as prospects can easily grasp the consequences and actual costs of procrastination.
Experience has taught me that proposals that concisely and effectively address the most important prospect areas of concern are far more effective than proposals that try to address too many points in a rambling, unfocused way.
The Addendum is there simply to provide space to link supporting documents. These may include word-processed documents or Adobe Acrobat PDFs, such as brochures, case studies, client lists, company history, price lists, specifications, staff profiles, price lists, specifications, testimonials, etc.
Working with the New Business Proposal Mind Map
In the Notes associated with each topic, I have included instructions and tips for each topic. You may want to delete these instructions after you and your staff have gained experience working with the New Business Proposal mind map.
Submitting your New Business Proposal
There are two ways you can submit new business proposals based on the New Business Proposal Map, the “old way” and the “new way.”
The “old way” to submit a new business proposals involves several steps and – frequently – numerous delays:
- Exporting your mind map as a word-processed document
- Editing and reformatting the proposal to include expanded narrative
- Printing and mailing copies of the proposal, or creating and emailing a PDF file
- Waiting for a response and feedback, often followed by awkward “Did you read it yet?” calls.
The “new way” involves presenting your proposal as an in-person or virtual presentation as soon as possible, and taking advantage of MindManager’s presentation capabilities and real time map sharing tools like Mindjet Connect.
The advantages include:
- Faster turnaround and less work. A mind-map based New Business Proposal presentation requires fewer words and less formatting to prepare. It also reduces the recipient’s workload, i.e., “One more thing to read when I get time!” A fast proposal response becomes a competitive advantage by projecting a professional, agile image.
- Provides an incentive for action. Scheduling a short meeting to present the new business proposal reduces delays caused by procrastination, by presenting a deadline for both presenter and prospect.
- Control. MindManager’s built-in presentation tools allow you to walk clients through the proposal, engaging the prospect by focusing their attention on one topic at a time. As you walk through the proposal, you can emphasize important points that prospects might otherwise skim through.
- 2-way communication. Presenting your proposal with MindManager encourages immediate feedback, allowing you to immediately respond to client concerns or objections. If needed, you can modify the proposal in real time.
Choosing the Right Format
Obviously, there’s no single, universal, always-appropriate format for preparing and delivering new business proposals.
Depending on your relationship with the prospect and your analysis of the prospect’s corporate culture, you may decide to use the New Business Proposal Planner strictly as an idea development platform, continuing to format and submit your proposal in traditional ways.
On the other hand, in today’s faster-moving, more competitive business environment, you may find that many prospects will actually prefer the focused presentation approach and the faster response it allows you to deliver.
Which approach is best for you?
If you’re already using the presentation approach, or have any concerns, questions, or takeaways about New Business Proposal map, please share them as comments, below.
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Nonprofits sometimes think that innovation is not for them: it’s too cutting-edge, too complicated, or too expensive. But the fact is, nonprofits are engaged in doing business like anyone else — and they can also benefit from innovation and innovation technologies.
The number of nonprofits is actually on the rise. Between 2001 and 2011, they increased by 25%, and this growth means that the competition for donations and funding is also growing. Organizations need to show donors that their programs are effective and have a wide reach. By thinking and doing things differently, they have a better chance at gaining access to more funds and a wider audience.
Why Nonprofits Need To Use Innovation Platforms
So: how can nonprofits use innovation software platforms?
Fundraising. Apart from implementing and planning programs, the biggest task facing nonprofits is fundraising. With innovation platforms, agencies can tap into a wider audience to come up with fundraising ideas. Plus, by inviting volunteers and outsiders to participate, you can create more awareness about your project or campaign, and grab the attention of potential sponsors. You may even discover a new issue that can be solved by your agency!
Transparency. Crowdsourcing and innovation platforms allow for transparency. Each idea can be recorded and saved for future reference, and the collaborative nature of the software cuts across geographies and linguistic boundaries. Since everything is discussed on one centralized platform, ideas never slip through the cracks.
Community. Innovation platforms also help create a sense of community, which is always welcome in an industry that can use volunteers. Plus, it can help build partnerships with other organizations and for-profits. Since nonprofits often find it difficult to sustain themselves solely on charitable donations, partnerships and crowdfunding provide opportunities to fund their mission.
Measuring Impact. Nonprofits need to check how well their projects are doing, and continuously assess and evaluate. There is a lot of data coming in, and, with innovation software, all of that data can be sorted, organized, and made more accessible to those who need it. When data is centralized and available for analysis, it’s easier to gain insight and make strategic decisions. Plus, leaders can account for funds received.
Streamlining. With innovation technology, nonprofit teams can automate tasks to get more done in less time. Who doesn’t need more time nowadays?
An Environment of Engagement
Not every fancy software out there is meant for large businesses; using enterprise innovation software for nonprofits will serve the greater good while streamlining organization goals and processes. It allows you to source ideas form anywhere, create an environment of sustained engagement with rewards, and quantify program investment with analytics and reports. And, with easy voting, discussions, and leader boards, you can have total transparency throughout the organization.
The bottom line? Nonprofits that utilize innovation software drive more than just a culture collaborative innovation; they ensure that more of each dollar they receive goes directly towards the causes that need them most.
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Welcome to Conspire’s Fun Friday Links, a weekly collection of interesting discoveries from around the Web. Most of the time, the goal is to get you thinking differently about innovation, collaboration, business culture, and life in general. Other times, we may toss an infographic or fun video your way. Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
What Lemonade Stands Say About American Innovation
Most American children are familiar with the idea — if not the sometimes soul-crushing experience — of running a sidewalk lemonade stand. Even if you didn’t do it yourself, chances are the concept at least showed itself in a mathematical word problem or two. And while it may not really seem like it, the notion of teaching our children early on about risk, budgets, entrepreneurship, and profits through the medium of squashed fruit is apparently quite indicative of the American innovation ideal. From Forbes:
“Meanwhile, many Americans are concerned that our children, compared to their peers in other developed countries, aren’t achieving their highest academic potential and are struggling on standardized tests. In December, the results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment showed that American teenagers scored below average in math and science when compared with 65 other countries. But standardized tests reward rote learners and cannot measure creativity or innovation. Unlike much of the rest of the world, the U.S. is uniquely positioned to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and that sets us up for success.”
AT&T’s Hackathons Help Foster Digital Innovation
A well-executed hackathon is one of the most effective types of collaborative ideating that can be done today. Even better is when all that collective ideating leads to breakthrough, altruistic innovation — something that AT&T is all about. From AdWeek:
“For the last three years, the telecommunications company has calling on developers, marketers, designers and innovators to work together to create tech solutions for common problems. The participants usually have 24 hours to come up with an idea and prototype for each project, and a winner is awarded at each event. Most of the stops are themed around an issue, including the upcoming Houston, Texas event on Friday which will focus on apps to help the disabled.
AT&T has also worked with other organizations and brands, including a co-sponsored stop with Autism Speaks, which called on the participants to help create apps that would benefit the autism spectrum disorder community. The Houston event will be with Easter Seals of Houston.”
The Man Who Turned Paper into Pixels: How Mathematician Claude Shannon Ignited the Information Age
It’s incredibly easy to take our digitally-driven culture for granted, even when we’re just upset that the internet is being slow. That, of course, says nothing about the amazing people throughout history who made it possible for us to complain about download speeds at all — people like Claude Shannon, a black jack wizard and mathematician who made it possible for the world to evolve from paper to pixels. From Brainpickings:
“The so-called Information Age we live in, like all major leaps in human achievement, isn’t a self-contained bubble that coalesced out of nothingness in a flash of genius but the cumulative product of incremental innovation stretching back centuries. It builds upon the work of multiple inventors, scientists, and thinkers, including Lady Ada Lovelace, celebrated as the world’s first computer programmer, Alan Turing, considered the godfather of modern computing, Paul Otlet, who built a proto-internet in the early twentieth century, and Vannevar Bush, who envisioned the web in 1945.
Among them was the American mathematician, engineer, and cryptographer Claude Shannon (April 30, 1916–February 24, 2001), who laid the foundation for the Information Age. According to British filmmaker Adam Westbrook — who gave us those fantastic video essays on the long game of creativity — Shannon is “the most important man you’ve probably never heard of” and his work impacted the modern world as profoundly as Einstein’s did.”
The vast majority of businesses around the globe have long since been citing innovation as a key priority, and because of that, the rising adoption of crowdsourcing and transparent practices are not only encouraging mass ideation, but helping organizations turn fledgling ideas into progressive, global solutions.
Diving In to Open Innovation
From Innovation Management:
“As part of the Open Innovation movement, many companies now actively solicit technical solutions, products and business ideas from innovators, customers, suppliers, and the broader marketplace of technology providers. Some companies have begun utilizing structured innovation submission programs, typically implemented through their corporate websites. This article, the first in a two-part series, helps companies understand Collaborative vs. Direct Portals, and the importance of IP-anti-contamination and efficient filtering in choosing the best innovation portals for their unique situations.
“Young inventor invents technical tool for big company” – that’s a news story to which we all respond. The underdog saves the big company with a great idea. That was the story reported in a recent business article in the New York Times (February 22, 2014), a tale of Mark King, a young 21-year-old community-college dropout, who responded to a call for ideas on a website sponsored by General Mills. King responded to a technology problem posted on the company’s website and invented an organoleptic analyzer — a way to measure the texture of granola bars. King’s side of the story is good reading, but we’re interested in the corporate side of that story – why and how companies like General Mills decided to utilize an idea submission program.
Numerous companies – Unilever, General Mills, Shell, DSM, Mars, GSK, Kraft, Crown Holdings to name just a few — have made structured solution or innovation submission programs a functional part of their Open Innovation practice. Other B2B and B2C firms are now paying attention, trying to decide whether to move in this direction, too.
Figure 1: General Mills solicits novel product and business ideas via its online Portal
In response, an armada of service providers has emerged to help companies design and put such an innovation portal plan into action. Because these programs are still relatively new, it can be challenging to know where to start.
Yet2.com has been a service provider in the Open Innovation market since 1999; among technology scouting and other intellectual property services, we provide custom and turnkey Open Innovation Portal Programs to corporate clients. We are happy to take the opportunity to suggest how companies can navigate their way toward an effective idea submission program, one that will be a useful part of product development in an active Open Innovation program.
Collaborative vs. Direct Innovation Portals
Corporations are currently using several different implementation models to accomplish their innovation submission goals. Most structured programs, like that of Unilever, for example, take the form of a dedicated micro-site linked off of the corporate website – called “innovation portals.” Some companies limit their portals simply to encouraging and collecting ideas as they come in. Other companies additionally list their current technology needs, in order to encourage responses to those specific technical challenges. Both Unilever and General Mills, for example, include their own technical challenges. It was to one of the posted challenges in General Mills’ G-Win program that Mark King responded.”
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In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we dig into the two major types of thought leadership out there, the six pillars of a successful strategy, and seven criteria for creating compelling intellectual capital.
How to Become a Thought Leader
“There are effectively two sides to the thought leader coin: pushing the boundaries of a particular method or industry, and then using those ideas to leverage ubiquity on social or broadcast media. But achieving those two things simultaneously is actually more difficult than it sounds.
To put it simply, thought leaders are not only known for radically changing thoughts or ideas about a particular industry, but thriving in it too. For example, Nate Silver became the premier thought leader on statistics when his blog, fivethirtyeight, accurately predicted the results of the November election exactly in both state majority and ultimate electoral college votes. After weeks of dismissive behaviors from analysts and research centers, Silver’s accuracy boosted him into the new role of election thought leader.
The moral of the story? Do something everyone else in your field thinks is dumb, and be right about it.”
Our take: Succinctly put, and an important lesson, too: to become a true thought leader, it’s not enough to agree with something that other people are already talking about, even if you’re talking the loudest. Unique perspective is utterly crucial, and the risk that comes along with having one is a necessary evil.
The Six Pillars of a Successful Thought Leadership Strategy
“It’s clear from our research that process leads to success in thought leadership. ITSMA’s thought leadership survey found that companies with formal development and dissemination processes are more satisfied with the quality of ideas from their thought leaders and are more likely to have the business’s critical support and involvement in idea development.
After all, marketing can’t do thought leadership alone — this is what leads to warmed-over brochures that masquerade as thought leadership.
In our research with marketers on thought leadership and social media, one theme has stood out consistently: Success requires a deep commitment not just from marketing but from the entire company. This led us to explore the concept of the idea organization and develop a model of the components required both inside and outside of marketing to successfully develop and disseminate ideas. From our research, we came up with six important areas of focus.”
Our take: What’s particularly great about this piece is its reiteration that thought leadership is neither the property or the responsibility of a single group within an organization. As developers of innovation management software, we couldn’t agree more — crowdsourcing ideation is the most effective way of gaining real, in-depth insight into not only your employees, but your market, too.
Seven Hallmarks of Compelling Intellectual Capital
“Getting high-level executive attention that, ideally, results in business depends upon a firm’s ability to powerfully differentiate its expertise and substantiate its client results. This requires clear, fact-based communication of the firm’s:
- Unique insights into the problem at hand;
- Experience in solving the problem with other clients;
- Results from those experiences;
- and Approach to doing the work.
We refer to a firm’s unique insights, client experiences, client results, and approach on a particular business issue, collectively, as its “point of view.” A point of view is the embodiment of the firm’s best thinking on an issue. A well-developed point of view demonstrates a firm’s unique, proven expertise for resolving a critical business issue, and thus is important for attracting clients and creating or enhancing a firm’s image as a “thought leader.” Powerful points of view address the most pressing business issues in the most unique way and with the highest level of demonstrated success. In today’s accelerating, increasingly complex, and high-stakes business world, executives are more receptive than ever to new, effective ways to address critical problems.
Past methods of developing and communicating a point of view—hiring a ghostwriter to interview a subject matter expert for several hours and write drafts of articles, collecting a team to discuss issues over an afternoon, or taking a weekend to write about a recent client experience—are no longer sufficient. To make their points of view “market ready,” firms need to undertake a number of important activities well before they “put pen to paper.” These activities include case study research of clients and other best practice companies, survey research, literature searches, and brainstorming workshops. In our experience, the exact combination of these activities depends on how the concept measures up to seven key criteria.”
Our take: As technology advances and grants just about everyone instantaneous access to educational materials, news, trends, and the like, executives are being forced to be more discerning in their approach to problems, especially when involving third-party vendors. The points made in this article, as well as the suggestions given, serve as an excellent template to be used when choosing firms to develop any kind of thought leadership content or strategy.
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For the avid mind mapper, productivity and project planning are usually a breeze — but even the experts might find themselves in need of additional structure to keep track of their many maps and tasks.
Our partners over at Olympic Limited have taken a successful stab at solving the problem of locating specific maps as quickly and easily as possible with the creation of the Map Tracker add-in.
“MindManager is a very versatile information mapping application. Once you really get to grips with its powerful functions it is not long before you are creating maps for all kinds of reasons and subjects.
While this is a wonderful experience the downside is that you will very shortly find your map collection has grown considerably and finding the map you are looking for starts to require a bit more time and more accurate recollection.
Map Tracker is an add-in for Mindjet MindManager for Windows that catalogs your maps as you work enabling you to locate and access them faster the next time they are needed.
A SQL database stores map properties as well as a visual image of the map at each point it is updated providing a visual interface where maps can be located by visual recognition rather than textual recollection.
Maps can be stored in categories, map keywords can be searched and maps can be filtered by extended properties such as Author, Manager, Company etc.
Each map stored in Map Tracker is represented by a “tile” that shows a map image and enables you to interact with the map giving you a much more visual way to access and organize your map collection.”
Learn More About Map Tracker
Mind maps have long since proven that they improve focus, help people plan projects more efficiently, allow teams to discover hidden challenges and risks, and heighten productivity for individuals and groups alike. But, it can be difficult to understand just how useful they are if the evidence isn’t right there in front of you.
The following 4 mind maps were created with Mindjet MindManager, and do an excellent job of showcasing both why this particular format of organizing tasks and projects is so effective, while also providing great business productivity tips surrounding project launches, scope, ramping up creativity, and encouraging transparent communication.
1. The Scope Statement Template
Feeling overwhelmed by the scope of a project, or just need a central location so your entire team can see what’s going on? This map shows you how to capture scope requirements, prioritize them, and present them to various stakeholders.
The Project Launch Map
Getting caught in a swamp of emails is nobody’s favorite way of getting things done. Yet, when you’re working across multiple teams to launch a product or new service, disparate locations and the digital back-and-forth just don’t cut it. This map shows you how to manage content and activities relating to the creation and launch of a new product, facilitate brainstorming, develop collateral, and more.
The 5-Minute Juice
Mornings are rough for a lot of us, at least until we’ve had our third cup of coffee. This map was developed based on the creator’s consultation with a bonafide productivity coach, and is an excellent way of getting motivated early on days when you have big projects to work on, important meetings to attend, and tons of tasks to take care of.
The Communication Plan Template
If there’s one thing that’s utterly imperative to the successful completion of projects, business growth, and purposeful collaboration, it’s being able to communicate transparently across teams. Unfortunately, it’s also the business requirement that tends to suffer most, particularly in larger organizations. This map lays down a very well-executed communications template that anyone can use to make their project conversations run more smoothly.
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At the core, all problems are a failure to identify a solution or apply the right fix. Innovation management platforms, when implemented correctly, consistently prove to be one of the best problem solving tools businesses can employ; they help organizations uncover hidden challenges and overcome existing roadblocks with new, out-of-the-box solutions.
As with every business, nonprofits and humanitarian agencies are increasingly adopting innovation management programs in order to discover new solutions to deal with operational and other business challenges.
Opportunities and Possibilities
Encouraging a collaborative culture of innovation, and supporting it with an efficient innovation platform, can do wonders for nonprofits. Innovation management can create some of the following opportunities for nonprofits:
- Better Funding. Although the government and big corporations are the two major sources of funding for nonprofits, many rely on a variety of other, smaller sources. Nonprofits are now tapping into innovation to diversify their funding base or make the most of their hosts. Nonprofits apply innovation to make their foundation proposals, special events, online campaigns, and other fundraising efforts more successful — for example, tapping into mobile technology to orchestrate a text-to-give campaign.
- Internal Efficiency. Nonprofits can apply innovation management to cut costs, improve their efficiency, and improve their sustainability. By establishing an innovation platform that promotes open debate and critical thinking amongst stakeholders, nonprofits can discuss ideas and formulate paths to reach their objectives. These debates don’t just breed new ideas — they also help organizations to: rationalize suggestions; understand whether what’s being touted as “new” is really new, or something old that failed; dissect the underlying merits and worth of ideas; determine the scalability and transferability of an idea; and, identify the relevance of the idea to the nonprofits’ core objectives. Cross-sector collaboration helps to deliver collective impact.
- Unlock Growth. The success of most nonprofits depends on growth and the ability to reach out to a wider audience progressively. Innovation helps nonprofits discover new insights, identify workarounds through existing barriers, and use the power of innovation to further their core values and objectives.
Real Life Examples
Nothing stands testimony to these possibilities better than the case of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which launched a “UNCHR Ideas” platform. UNCHR Ideas offered the agency a way to break through the restraints of thought and process flows posed by bureaucracy, and create a culture of innovation to further its core agenda of protecting refugees and resolving refugee problems worldwide.
How can you use innovation management software for your nonprofit? Talk to us in the comments!
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In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we take a look at some off-the-wall principles for thought leaders, the importance of social advocacy, and a robust list of interviews with some of the world’s most renowned TLs.
5 Counterintuitive Principles for Thought Leaders
In this (very) brief video with professional speaker Douglas Kruger, you’ll hear his five not-so-common bits of advice for thought leaders on the rise. Watch it below.
Social Advocacy & Politics: Thought Leadership in the Social Age
From Social Media Today:
“Social media is where public thinking happens. So if you want to be a thought leader, you must lead on social media. Lead not only on social media, but like the tree falling in the woods: if you want to be heard you’ve got to fall among thinking people. If you are trying to influence the press, the press is on social media. If you are trying to lead scholarly discussions, scholars are already discussing their research on social media. If you want to lead the thinking about public policy, policymakers are all on social media, listening and thinking, even if they haven’t quite grasped how to engage.
The days of publishing peer reviewed articles in obscure journals read by mere dozens of people as your primary (and often only) channel of distribution are over. Those academic journal articles now come with public discourse via social media. The days of relying primarily on people reading your quote in paragraph four on the front page of the New York Times to drive public discourse are over, too. Now you can publish your fleshed out comments on a blog, Tumblr or even a Facebook wall post, then engage large public discussions via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and beyond.”
Our take: All too often, fledgling thought leaders get their tactics mostly right, but fail to put together all of the necessary pieces. Creating great content doesn’t do much if you don’t share it, just like having a stellar education doesn’t guarantee you’ll be good at a job in your chosen field. Putting together all of the critical elements is the only way to build an effective strategy.
50+ Global Thought Leaders Discuss Innovation In Insights
From the Green Book Blog:
“At IIeX in Atlanta, true stars Ben Smithee of Spych Market Analytics & Ray Poynter of Vision Critical University worked with our amazing Broadcast Partner CorporateCloud.tv and Media Sponsor Brandtrust to conduct over 50 interviews with a variety of industry thought leaders from client-side, technology providers, and suppliers on the current state and future of the industry, how to drive innovation, and the skill sets necessary for success for the researcher of the future. Each interview is about five minutes long and they are jam packed with amazing and inspiring thinking.”
Our take: Set aside some time for this one — with this much perspective and insight to take in from people who truly know what they’re talking about, you’ll have a hard enough time choosing just a few interviews to share with colleagues and truly take to heart, let alone watch!
Many publishing experts claim that after writing excellent copy for your eBook (see my last post, Becoming a Writer, Mapper and Synthesizer), the next most important thing to do is create a good cover design. As Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords, states: “A great cover design makes a promise to the reader.”
Mind mapping to design your cover can help you keep that promise.
The 4 Cs
Steven Spatz, marketing director for BookBaby, feels that a great cover should be a billboard on the Internet Superhighway — a place where people are speeding along at “60 miles an hour” and barely give themselves time to glance at anything in particular.
For my eBook How to Get Your Money Back From Big Companies, I wanted the cover to shine, so I mind mapped the four Cs of diamond quality: color, clarity, cut, and carat (weight), in order to be sure that my design had the right attributes. Here’s how.
The smart use of color attracts the attention of the viewer immediately, and since my book was about money, I chose a design that incorporated the color of US greenbacks. And as Coker suggests, I tried to envision the cover in black & white, as well as greyscale, in case it ended up appearing on a website or document that was devoid of color.
It is obvious that an eBook cover must be genre- or topic-specific. That’s why I chose an image that made it absolutely clear what the book was about: one lone person collecting money from a large, looming entity. And with my book being sold on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers, the cover graphic couldn’t be too complex — it needed to look good in thumbnail size, too.
I went with a clean design to provide a laser-like focus to the point of my book. With only the image, the title, and my name, the design was uncluttered. For me, this meant that what didn’t make the “cut” was just as important as what did.
4. Carat (Weight)
I initially considered a comical, more colorful design to reflect the humor of some of the stories in the book. However, a whimsical cover was not “heavy” enough to convey the David vs. Goliath message I wanted, so I decided on the one that BookBaby designed. The fact that it was described as “Mad Men-esque” by at least one reviewer was an added advantage that made the cover more topical and current.
By the Cover
The bottom line is that a great eBook cover has a lot in common with a piece of jewelry. It has to communicate a lot of information in what is, generally, a pretty limited space. It has to send a message about taste and value. And, quite frankly, It has to catch people’s eyes. Using the classic diamond quality model of the four Cs provides a great framework for assessing your ebook cover — and making it shine.
To see my evaluation process, download my eBook Cover Design mind map here.
The post Mind Mapping to Create a Brilliant Ebook Cover Design appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.
Like all industries, the healthcare sector is highly competitive; success depends not only on reducing costs and improving efficiency, but also on delivering a remarkable patient experience. Healthcare professionals are now relying increasingly on innovation to offer differentiated services. Innovation done right depends largely on mechanized crowdsourcing, or tapping into ideas from the wider professional community. That includes experienced professionals within the industry, as well as an organization’s internal “crowd” (employees).
Here are 3 keys to crowdsourcing that drive innovation in the healthcare industry.
1. Make Connections
Innovation requires moving away from one’s comfort zone, and in healthcare, this often means seeking inspiration from other, unrelated industries. However, merely importing ideas from other sectors is nothing more than copying — not innovating. And, considering the uniqueness of the healthcare industry, plagiarized ideas are pretty likely to fail. Successful innovators cross-pollinate ideas, and find logical connections amongst them to create the larger picture.
Mind maps can help the would-be innovator easily understand how concepts relate to one another. This broader, clearer visualization of challenges and ideas helps the innovator to better understand and apply new approaches in the proper context, which, much of the time, leads to breakthroughs that may not have otherwise happened.
2. Facilitate Structured Storytelling
Most knowledge transfers within the healthcare industry take place through storytelling, or when experiences are shared throughout a strong, informal network. The challenge for innovators is to be able to tap into these networks and leverage the maximum number of stories from the widest audience. However, the siloed nature of the healthcare landscape, accentuated by different cultural norms in different geographies, makes this a daunting task.
Novant Health, a not-for-profit integrated healthcare system, has tapped into social technology to develop a platform that allows caregivers — ranging from doctors to nurses, to lab technicians and administrators — to share their stories and, therefore, collaborate across hierarchal and political boundaries. In order to effectively crowdsource ideas from their full employee base, Novant Health uses an innovation management platform to align stakeholders with the strategic objectives of the organization and allow them to collaborate on different solutions. These healthcare professionals share experiences and disparate perspectives, which inspires everyone in the crowd to cultivate and reshape new ideas. Novant consistently uses ideas generated through crowdsourcing to drive key innovations and productive achievements, such as reducing their product development cycle down to eight weeks, saving time and money.
3. Foster a Cultural Shift
Sometimes, business leaders choose to avoid leveraging their internal crowds because doing so requires much more than just asking for ideas. It requires a transparent and open company culture, where free thinking is encouraged and healthy discussions are promoted across the organization. Meanwhile, all this has to be reconciled with patent privacy laws that may mandate disclosure of certain information.
A cultural shift like this also requires a strong technical framework. UnitedHealth, the largest health and well-being company in the United States, has created an open innovation program that gives employees and their ideas easy and transparent access to leaders. The system is open, allowing employees to read, comment on other posts, submit ratings, and collaborate using discussion threads. There is also a voting system in place, taking crowdsourcing to its logical conclusion.
Innovation in healthcare shouldn’t only reduce cost and improve efficiency; it should also allow for the creation and development of new products and services, and improve employee and customer engagement. These 3 keys to crowdsourcing will help you generate creative, free flowing ideas for your business.
The post 3 Keys to Crowdsourcing That Drive Innovation in the Healthcare Industry appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.
INQ Magazine is the first publication for first-class innovators, and we’re proud to release Issue #3 in July. In each issue, we choose 3-5 of the most notable up-and-coming change-makers from a variety of industries to be featured as INQ’s Innovation Heavy Hitters. Not everybody can be named a Heavy Hitter — to make the cut, they have to showcase that they’re affecting meaningful, transformative change in their organizations or communities.
Each quarter we find the most influential and important innovators in our community, but we know you are aware of rising stars too. Want to nominate someone in your network for the Heavy Hitter title? Just copy the questionnaire below, fill in all of the fields, and paste it into an email to us at INQ@mindjet.com to nominate an innovative friend or colleague for the July issue of INQ.
SAMPLE Nomination Questionnaire (All Fields Required)
- Nominee Name: Inno V. Ation
- Nominee Company and Role: CIO at GreatIdeas
- Nominee Email:. email@example.com
- Your Name: Inq M. Agazine
- Your Email: INQ@mindjet.com
- Why are you nominating this person? Inno V. Ation is an exemplary innovator at GreatIdeas. They have driven two significant innovation initiatives that have brought positive change to the infrastructure of the company, including one which reduced expenditure while boosting productivity, and without resulting in personnel changes.
Editor’s Note: please provide as many details as possible as to why you’re putting this person’s name in the hat — we want to make sure your nominee gets the recognition they truly deserve!
The post INQ Magazine’s Innovation Heavy Hitters: Call for Nominations appeared first on via @Mindjet's Conspire #ideasquad.
Fostering innovation and increasing productivity are priorities in every organization, regardless of whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a brand new startup. One way to achieve both of these goals is through mind mapping. While mind mapping can be quite useful for large businesses, there are some very specific organizational benefits of using mind maps in startups. Let’s take a look!
Conquer Your Fears
When you’re running a startup, it’s only natural to second-guess your ideas and have doubts about the direction your company is going. Startup fears can be productivity killers for every entrepreneur out there. Paired with the number of hats entrepreneurs wear in their fledgling organizations, these factors, if not focused efficiently, could be debilitating to your business.
Mind mapping can help clarify thought processes and bring much-needed perspective to the table. It allows people to outline fears and business concerns, from sourcing and manufacturing challenges to the many hurdles often faced by marketing and sales. More importantly, it helps visualize how to overcome those fears, and try to anticipate possible problems that could arise. When you use a collaborative mind mapping tool, the whole team — or company, as is the case with many small startups — can contribute and foresee what problems may arise, and offer solutions for how best to overcome them. Participants can make specific correlations between one part of the business, and offer up creative solutions for various problems in their respective departments. Laying everything out visually helps break down issues into more manageable pieces, and making them far less intimidating. A simple exercise like this can do wonders for confidence levels in your startup, along with ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Ideas and Brainstorming
In a startup, there’s bound to be a lot of energy and buzz around the product or service being developed. Startups often have brainstorming sessions more frequently than large businesses, in order to talk about new ways to market the product, tailor it to different audiences, and assess how early growth is going. In this flurry of activity, you neither want to lose good ideas nor do you want to keep driving the ones that aren’t viable. Startup leaders need to let their teams have “brain dump” sessions, wherein all ideas are brought forth and views expressed.
Our advice? Start the brainstorming mind map by creating floating topics, then draw connections and branch out into other, fleshed out ideas. Mind mapping software allows you to organize topics together under a specific branch, as well as create filters and filter rules to block out different topics and ideas, allowing you to view only what you need to.
Mapping Out Priorities
Mind mapping software is wonderful for enabling people to better map out priorities. Think of it as using a virtual whiteboard, exempt from the hassle of erasing and redrawing; you can drag, drop, and organize topics with ease, and the entire team can make changes together. The visual component of mind maps makes it easy to evaluate ideas, and lets you refine criteria so that you can appropriately weigh each idea. Plus, since it’s a visual interface, you can compare ideas side-by-side and easily select the ones you’d like to pursue. It’s a simple, intuitive matter to organize ideas and information in a single view, in order to see connections and draw conclusions quickly. Essentially, there’s less time wasted on decision making. And, finally, you can map out the resources you have and integrate schedules so you can plan with the company’s best interests in mind.
Another challenge in startups is managing finances. How much capital do you need to keep the company going and how much should you put back in? By taking a step back and creating a mind map of all your expenditures, sales and resources, you can organize your expenses, identify profits, see where your capital is going, and assess how much is flowing in. You can then decide how much you would like to invest back into the company, and identify any necessary measures that need to be taken in order to remain stable and growing.
If you’re an entrepreneur who has launched a startup, or are looking to launch a business, give mind mapping a shot. And, if you’re interested in giving Mindjet’s mind mapping software a go, request a demo for more information.
Welcome to Conspire’s Fun Friday Links, a weekly collection of interesting discoveries from around the Web. Most of the time, the goal is to get you thinking differently about innovation, collaboration, business culture, and life in general. Other times, we may toss an infographic or fun video your way. Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Four Strategies for Listening to Your Gut
Most people consider intuition to be something very much like instinct — they’re often used to express the same idea. But if you get into the nitty-gritty of the definitions, instinct is something done without much, if any, cognition involved, whereas intuition is a reaction based on some type of knowledge gained through experience.
Though writer Daniel Epstein uses the terms interchangeably in his blog, he dives into the various strategic ways with which you can take charge of those gut feelings and inklings, whatever you like to call them. From Unreasonable.Is:
“Need to make an extremely important decision that could change the course of your life for the months or years to come? An easy way to help make that decision is to simply flip a coin. Sound haphazard? Well, I’m serious. Teju Ravilochan, the fearless leader of the Unreasonable Institute, is the one who first led me to this decision making strategy. If you are torn between a binary decision (i.e. trying to decide whether or not to do something), flip a coin and assign tails to “yes” and heads to “no.” Then, when the coin lands on either side, listen to the immediate gut reaction you feel to the results of the coin toss. If you feel a sense of sadness or disappointment, then you know that you need to do the opposite of what the coin told you. Conversely, if you feel a sense of relief with the results of the coin toss, then you should go with what the coin demands. In short, that immediate internal reaction is your faster intelligence telling you which way to go.”
10 Ways to Listen Better and Be “Fully Present”
In a world bombarded with endless mental stimulation, it can be difficult to organize our own thoughts, let alone pay attention to anyone else’s. But because of that, it’s even more imperative that we find ways of existing in the moment — before all of our moments get swept away by an obligation to tell the internet how much we’re doing while we’re doing it. From Executive Coaching Concepts:
“We live in a world where this simple notion of being fully present is often overwhelmed by the cacophony of “noise” and the invited avalanche of bright shiny objects that pop up on our smartphones, computers, tablets and on the TVs that are on everywhere, all the time. Some of this “noise” can be useful and productive when we can sort out the important from the trivial, but that can be hard to do. Lost in this tsunami of stimulation is the ability or skill of being at peace long enough to have a meaningful conversation and demonstrate our interest in another person’s worldview or needs.”
Open Relationship Building: The 15-Minute Habit That Transforms Your Network
Though widespread, having to ‘network’ isn’t everyone’s favorite way to get their foot in the door at a company, or to break into new industries. Still, it’s a highly effective way of doing so, and being good at it can be the difference between flourishing and floundering. Enter ‘open relationship building’, the future of networking. From Forbes:
“Relationship building in the 21st century will be drastically different than it was in the 20th. In this century, it will be more important than ever to have a large, diverse, and deep network. Open relationship building is a unique approach to building this type of network in your downtime…Open relationship building is a systematic approach to finding efficient ways to say ‘yes’ to connecting with as many others who resonate with you and want to connect as possible. It also means being extremely discerning on who you go on to build a deeper relationship with. The three qualities that make it unique are:
- Putting the onus on the sender to filter themselves
- Using your downtime to save time
- Shortening the length of your calls and meetings.”
With crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, and crowd science gaining traction globally, conventional methods of ideating and product development — as well as the entire future of innovation itself — are ripe for welcoming collaboration.
No matter the industry, sewing collaborative practices into the fabric of an organization opens up innumerable possibilities for driving change.
Crowdsourcing Week 2014
This year’s Crowdsourcing Week conference, happening October 14th-16th in Copenhagen, will bring together innovation masterminds, speakers, enthusiasts, and thought leaders for three days of debate, discussion, and education about the expanding face of collaborative innovation. From CSW2014:
“The future is human-centric, all about participation and the ability to co-create via an increasingly connected world. This new way of doing things – crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, co-creation, collaboration, and open innovation – is challenging business models and workings of organizations across the board, offering an immense opportunity to rethink and reinvent conventional processes.
Crowdsourcing Week is paving this transition toward a more open and collaborative economy.”
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In this week’s thought leadership roundup, we explore how to tap into every employee’s potential expertise, overcoming the dangers of content overload, and how ghostwriters and spies play into content marketing’s biggest issues.
How to Create a Company of Thought Leaders
“Outline your strategy by asking key members of your team some high-level questions. What do we want to accomplish here (attract talent, convert leads, boost loyalty, etc.)? What differentiates our company? Who is our target audience? What do we want to communicate to them?
These answers will guide you in creating a content plan. Once you have that in place, you’re ready for execution…
Create an editorial calendar with due dates. Make sure your employees understand that they’re not submitting the great American novel every time they create content. In fact, they shouldn’t even worry about spelling, grammar, or sentence structure. All you need from them are thoughts, ideas, and insight. Because it’s substance you’re after, they should feel free to write in a stream-of-consciousness style; your writers and editors will turn it into something engaging and readable.”
Our take: The strategy is in the structure — as a rule, natural thought leaders will emerge without prodding, but you should never depend on it, or assume that there aren’t at least a few diamonds in the rough who are waiting for motivation, encouragement, or a platform to share their ideas.
How Thought Leadership Beats Content Overload
“Unless you’re selling toilet paper, your target market is not everyone. And even if you are selling toilet paper, according to my best friend — a salesperson with a huge consumer goods company — only 99% of American households currently purchase it. (Gross, I know.)
The point is, you have a specific audience, so creating the next viral cat video isn’t that helpful unless your audience really loves cats and it makes sense for your brand.
Instead of creating content that will resonate with the masses, create content that resonates with the 100 or 1,000 people who really matter to your business.”
Our take: The bane of the content marketer’s existence is dealing with a fractured audience, or one that has an exceptionally broad focus. The trick is, like the author points out, to employ thought leadership and develop assets that are truly valuable to specific segments of that audience. Great leaders give their marketers the proper tools and enough information to do this.
Ghostwriters, Spies, and Content Marketing’s Thought Leadership Problem
“At the end of movies about the CIA, there’s often some takeaway about the thankless life of an intelligence officer. I was watching Argo this weekend, and sure enough, after all the diplomats were saved from Iran, Tony Mendez—the hero played by Ben Affleck—is notified he received an award from the President. Only he never actually gets the award, because, as his boss tells him in a parking lot, nobody can know about his mission.
Then it hit me: That’s the life of a content marketing ghostwriter.
Sure, you need to strip away all the danger and heroism and patriotism, but the function of doing a job without any recognition is identical.”
Our take: Since we regularly talk about the importance of employee engagement and incentives, this article really hit home. Thought leadership isn’t really thought leadership if the content being promoted is being crafted by someone other than the thought leader themselves, making the overuse of ghostwriters a dangerous game.