Mindjet MindManager 8 Test
Hypershifters focuses on the use of visual mapping software. It addresses open source, freeware as well as commercial solutions. The added value Hypershifters provides is in research, advice and consultancy for experienced and inexperienced users. Many users have concerns about the potential of visual mapping in their work environment. This was reason for Hypershifters to create a test team that, co-advised by international experts in the field of visual mapping, critically reviews current products. Not so much viewed from the intricacies of the software, but rather from its scope of applicability. Think, for example, of doing some brainstorming, meeting management, project management and knowledge management.
The reviews are based on a matrix drafted by us to serve as a yardstick for the aforementioned scope of applicability. Besides the reviews you will also find the results in a comparison table.
Mindjet MindManager 8
Mindjet MindManager 8 was released on November 11, 2008 as a successor to the Pro 7 version. It is one of the more advanced software programs to electronically map your mind, and can because of its versatile functionality be utilized in many different work processes. That is why we will zoom in on the most widespread of them.
In 1994, MindManager, then MindMan 1.0, was introduced as one of the first mind mapping programs, and has since developed into the world’s most widely used mind mapping software. In the last two years, however, a considerable array of competition has been added to the field. Reason enough to put the, to use their own words, market leader in electronic mind mapping, through the mill.
The program offers both individual users and teams many opportunities to improve their productivity. The disadvantage of the by now multitude of features is that at least one full day of training is required to be able to productively use the package in a business environment; that is, if you do not have three to four days to explore the possibilities on your own. The on-line training that is offered is insufficient for that purpose.
In case your electronic mind mapping software requirements are limited, there surely are better alternatives on the market with a greater ease of use, some of which can even be had for free.
Mindjet speaks of Business Mapping (which can be tracked back to its formal business lay-out), and distances itself in implementation from Tony Buzan’s original mind mapping.
It is clear that Mindjet over time has left its more creative design behind, while this does have a very powerful presence indeed in a product like Buzan’s iMindMap. We believe that especially the business target audience benefits from the traditional elements in mind mapping, those which promote cooperation between our cerebral hemispheres. We believe that the package has taken over just a little too much of the user’s lay-out control.
MindManager 8 provides powerful capabilities which include brainstorming, meeting management, project management, knowledge management, reporting and presentation. This is made possible with flexible tools for the ‘mapping’ of agendas, priorities, project tasks, deadlines, etc.
With a price of Euro 299.00 excl VAT (at the time of testing) for the Windows version, the software certainly is not the cheapest package available on the market.
MindManager 8 is ‘laid out’ like Microsoft Office, and has so many options that a new user, despite the ribbon interface, can easily loose his way. Main reason for this is that the ribbon interface is not context sensitive, which means that during a mind map session the various tabs get more than a serious workout.
Be sure to note when attending a training session that the trainer not only addresses the interface and basic software knowledge, but also how the mind map principles and elements can be rapidly implemented in a smart and quick way.
It is important that the basic training already addresses how MindManager 8 can be used in actual work processes, not just knowing where to look but also a lot of practice with the right support is of importance!
MindManager 8 has a special feature for brainstorming: step 1 is for ideas, step 2 to group, and with step 3 you quit the brainstorming process and return to the default layout.
What lacks as an early step in the program is a quick determination of the question (“How do I …” or “How do we …”) – which can of course be answered within the same brainstorm feature, but still …
For actual “outside the box” thinking is important to have the use of a facilitator who is familiar with creative thinking techniques. One possibility is for this facilitator to use a separately purchased add-in for MindManager: ‘theRealizer’. Besides the mentioned early step to arrive at a proper inquiry, this application also has the necessary “idea-impulses” to actually look outside of existing frameworks.
Many experienced moderators choose not to use MindManager 8′s brainstorming feature, as they find it too restrictive when converging and then again diverging. They rather use “floating topics” and other knacks.
aHa! Coaching stands alone in offering “Moderating with Mind Manager” training in the Netherlands that specifically addresses the use of MindManager 8 to add value to brainstorms, strategy sessions and meetings.
Mind Manager 8 offers almost all functions necessary and desirable for a productive brainstorming session and follow-up, like a large worksheet, quick note entry, relationship identification, filtering, focus on branches, etc.
The ability to vote for alternatives, to add color and to use keyboard shortcuts for fast data entry and formatting are important for a brainstorming session. It is no problem to export results to MS PowerPoint, MS Word, pdf and/or HTML and, albeit after some extra formatting, to disseminate them among your organization.