News and thoughts from CS Odessa, maker of the ConceptDraw product line: ConceptDraw PRO, ConceptDraw PROJECT and ConceptDraw MINDMAP.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Checklist Manifesto

Have you read Atul Gawande's "The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right"? Gawande writes about the how we humans--including those among us who spend decades training, practicing, applying our skills--are no match for the complexity of the modern world. But we think we are. And when we think that way, mistakes are sure to happen.

Gawande is a very highly respected surgeon and a brilliant writer (he's published numerous books on this general topic, and is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker). He traces mistakes to two basic problems. First, ignorance: We simply might not know enough. Second, we're inept: We know, but we might not always apply what we know correctly.

His solution to massive complexity: the simple checklist, and offers startling examples of the improvements checklists have had in medical outcomes. But he says that checklists can be used in all kinds of endeavors. (It reminds me of another overwhelmingly simple response to complexity--the Geek PDA).

One of the best uses of mind mapping for project management I've ever seen is in project post mortems. You list all of the things that went wrong in the project, and ways you might improve or avoid them next time. Then, when you start the next project, copy and paste those lessons onto your new project map. Your mistakes are right there in front of you as you plan the new path ahead.

Gawande is clear that there are no grand checklists: life is complex. Few things in life can be reduced to repeatable processes. But maybe some things can. Are there things you do over and over again that might benefit from a simple checklist? By letting go of the notion that we are smart enough, experienced enough to manage the complexity of our work (and maybe our lives), we might all experience greater success.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My moss-covered Wonder Wheel blog post

Well.. it's true that I haven't blogged in a while. So imagine my surprise when Brian Friedlander at Assistive Technology wrote to tell me that he blogged about Google's Wonder Wheel waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in May, 2009. Thanks, Brian. I'll try to pay more attention! :o)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The CNN Stimulus Money Map

And speaking of interesting applications of mapping... Check out CNN's Stimulus Tracker.

Google Wonder Wheel

I just learned about Google Wonder Wheel. Has anyone else heard of this? I would have thought it would send ripples of... I don't know... wonder? Fear? Fascination? When you do a Google search, the results page include a link in the upper left to "Show Options."

Click on that and you get a long menu that includes "Wonder wheel." Click on this and you see the results as a rudimentary, clickable mind map. The map is somewhat reminiscent of The Brain in that when you click on one of the branches, that branch becomes the new center of the map.

The Wonder Wheel view doesn't exactly take my breath away. What does though is that Google is investigating the mind-mapping paradigm? How far will they take it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I just listened to an interesting interview with Daniel Pink on CBS Pink wrote "A Whole New Mind" a couple of years ago. It was an interesting book--asserting that the future of work lay in what he called symphony: being able to combine many skills, many kinds of information to create something new. At one point, he discussed how mind mapping was a good tool for the "knowledge worker" of the future.

His new book, the basis of the CBS interview, is called "Drive." It's an explanation of what motivates people to do good work. He talks about how financial incentives can motivate people. But in a recession like this, he says, those incentives are hard to come by (unless you are a bank and can get lots of free money from us taxpayers... but I digress). Instead, companies need to look deeper into behavior science to see what else motivates people. Pink's thesis, based on what sounds like some pretty solid research, may surprise you. If it doesn't surprise you, it might just confirm your belief in the nobility of mankind. Turns out that what turns people on is the opportunity to do something well and to have some autonomy while doing it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting Projects Off on the Right (or Left) Foot

If you're interested in "projects"* and have never visited Glen Alleman's blog, Herding Cats, you might want to check it out. Glen is very thoughtful on the subject of project management (and on lots of other subject, I'm sure). In the last couple of days, he's been talking about the importance of starting projects with a clear, shared understanding of the goal and of what it means for the project to be "done."

Glen quotes David Campbell, who makes the obvious but often overlooked observation that "if you don't know where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else." Sounds pretty much like common sense.

But in my experience, and maybe yours, the tendency when a team gets started on a new work initiative (AKA project) is to just get going. The benefit that can come from taking even an hour up front to identify key metrics... it's huge. If you're not doing it now, try getting a few key players in the room and projecting a map up on the wall to build a common understanding. It's a common sense thing to do... like looking at a map before you start a trip, or reviewing a recipe before you start to cook.

The cool thing with ConceptDraw Office is that, once you've done this kind of thinking, you can essentially toggle back and forth between the mind map view and the project chart view, and build process diagrams -- all without leaving the ConceptDraw environment. No lost data, not competing rules, no need to buy another application. Sweet!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I think, therefore I map

Many times the process of thinking through an issue is critical to problem solving. Thinking and then using the thoughts generated are key to working through any issue. Problem solving is essential to accomplishment. Success is driven by clear thinking and efficient problem solving.

Mapping is a great way to capture those fleeting glimpses of brilliance. A map makes these thought segments concrete and gives one a good basis to apply some organizational skill. ConceptDraw MINDMAP was some great tools to brainstorm, plan, organize and then implement. The feature set of ConceptDraw MINDMAP is structured to work as an assistant not as a handicap.

Ten Years Hence

I started in the mind-mapping industry about ten years ago. Back then, we continually asked ourselves what market we were in. Was in knowledge management? Business Intelligence? Collaboration? Maybe business graphics? It was hard to figure out where mind mapping fit in because there were only a half-dozen applications on the market.

Fast forward to today and we have, what, 60 mind-mapping applications available? At one end of the spectrum, you have established, stable companies providing solutions and support--for a price. Some of the originals are still around: ConceptDraw MINDMAP, MindManager, iMindMap, MindGenius.

At the other end... apps that are like mayflies: They appear one warm summer afternoon, only to disappear by night.

As my 6-year-old niece has been heard to say: "Good times, my friends. Good times." All this activity is proof that there is a demand for mind mapping apps. And there's nothing better for a market than lots of new competitors, right? What do you make of the interplay between the more established vendors and all those upstarts and their cool ideas?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome to our retitled blog

You might have noticed a few small changes to our web site. We've changed the title to reflect our new focus: We'll continue to talk about mind mapping. But we also want to get into the discussion around project management and business graphics. And we also hope to post the occasional blog about broader subjects affecting businesses.

Monday, January 18, 2010

ConceptDraw Corporate Licensing Program

The ConceptDraw Corporate Licensing Program has been designed to meet the requirements of various types of organizations that are interested in purchasing multiple licenses of any of our ConceptDraw products.

Our licensing program standardizes the purchase process of ConceptDraw products by assigning a product point value to each of our products. This product point value is then allocated against a purchased block of points. Blocks of points can be purchased starting at just 50, additional price breaks occur at 100, 500, 1000 and 10,000 points.

There are many advantages with the ConceptDraw Corporate Licensing Program:
  • Ability to mix and match products to maximize your budget
  • Discount levels for your organization
  • Tailored purchase plan so you get exactly what your organization needs
  • Locked in discount level for 24 months
  • As little as one license may be purchased at the earned discount level up to 24 months after initial purchase in the Corporate Licensing Program
  • Future purchases in the Corporate Licensing Program count toward the next discount level during the 24 months
  • Hassle free, No contract required
  • Corporate Licensing Program starts at only $6,500
  • CS Odessa can work with your reseller of choice to support your requirements

Points System

With the ConceptDraw Corporate Licensing Program, you are given the ultimate in flexible purchasing to better meet your software application needs. Points are available in any increment from 100 to whatever your requirements are. Additional discounts are available at 250, 500 and 1000 plus points.

  • Consistent pricing for all points purchased within the designated band.
  • Points can be added after the fact (for up to 24 months after the initial purchase), with no penalties to you the customer.
  • ConceptDraw PRO, Project & MINDMAP, when purchased as part of the Office suite cannot be divided.
  • There is a minimum point purchase of 100 points (additional price breaks at 250, 500 and 1000 points). 
Examples of what 100 point purchase will buy:

  • Purchase 100 copies of MINDMAP (100x1)
  • 30 copies of ConceptDraw PRO (30x1.5)
  • 6 copies of ConceptDraw Office Suite (6x2.5)
  • 40 copies of ConceptDraw Project (40x1)

Product Name Product Point Value
ConceptDraw Upgrade                 .5 points
  ConceptDraw MINDMAP           1.0 points
 ConceptDraw Project                    1.0 points
 ConceptDraw PRO                       1.5 points
 ConceptDraw Office*                  2.5 points

To learn more about the CS Odessa Corporate Licensing Program or to purchase ConceptDraw products with your very own corporate discount, please contact today.

What's New in MINDMAP 6

Improved PowerPoint Export
  • New outline mode added exports mind map content into an easy to edit slide presentation, based on selected parameters at time of export while using a supplied template or one of your own.
  • Map/Slide Show mode exports map into a map view.
Automatic Generation of Hyperlinks
  • Automatic generation of hyperlinks to documents and folders by dragging and dropping an icon on to the selected topic.
Full Screen Mode (F5)

One-Click Navigation
  • Left click any corner of a map, and then hold down the mouse button to select any area of the map you want zoom in.
  • Release the mouse button to return to normal view.
MINDMAP for Projects
  • Tight integration between ConceptDraw MINDMAP and ConceptDraw PROJECT. Same file structure is used for both applications to maintain formatting.
Snow Leopard Support

Available in English, German, and French
  • The ConceptDraw MINDMAP interface (Windows) is now available in English, German or French language .

Define Project Milestones
  • New check box in task pane to define a project milestone
New Types of Topic Relationships
  • General, Start to Start, Start to Finish, Finish to Start, Finish to Finish
New .cdmz File Format Developed
  • Files created in .cdmz format contain a zip archive of xml-formatted document, which is available for further processing.
Updated Send Map by Email Feature
  • Your mind map and a .PNG  of the map view is generated and attached to the e-mail being sent.
Attach Multiple Symbols
  • Attach multiple symbols to a topic using the Drag & Drop function from the ConceptDraw MINDMAP Symbols library.
Search and Replace for Topics, Notes, Hyperlinks or Resources.

Use Standard or Modified Objects from ConceptDraw PRO in MINDMAP

Automatically Name Map Pages
  • New map page is automatically named after main topic. Pages can also be easily reorganized to improve organization.

Added Support for Fractional Time Periods for Tasks
  • In MINDMAP 5, only integers could be added.

Improved Operation in Outline Mode
  • Improved Copy/Past of Outline 
  • Improved Export/Import of Outline
  • Improved navigation within Outline using keyboard arrows.
Extensive and Useful New Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Promote or demote a subtopic
  • Rearrange topic position by using Ctrl + (an arrow key)
  • Take notes in a meeting without ever touching your mouse! 
  • Keyboard shortcuts are located in Help.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Identify Project Milestones and Put Them into a ConceptDraw Project Gantt Chart

1. Open sample “New Product Marketing Launch” to insert milestones in project.

2. Press Insert to place a new task before a selected object, then type task name.

3. Press Ctrl+M to define selected task as a milestone.

4. Repeat steps 2-3 to determine all milestones in the project.

Result: Milestones have now been identified in the project.

Planning a Project with ConceptDraw Office

The Plan Action Stage of a project details the ideas and then plans out the actions necessary for implementation. In addition, forecasts are developed of the expected results of a project for use by upper management and investors.

Precise organization and planning when creating draft project timelines and budget are critical components for future projects. At the Plan Action and Organize Project Stages, a project timeline is mapped out for task and resource (people, equipment, and materials) allocation.

Figure 1: Planning a Project with ConceptDraw PROJECT.

ConceptDraw Office contains the tools necessary to handle these two important stages:

  • ConceptDraw PROJECT is well integrated with ConceptDraw MINDMAP, saving time when setting up a project and all the necessary supporting components.

  • Plan project actions in detail. Simplifying job delegation and responsibilities using ConceptDraw's PROJECT Gantt chart.

Figure 2: Creating a Mind Map from Gantt Chart using ConceptDraw Office.

1. To modify schedules and project detail it is possible to create a mind map from selected tasks.

2. Open project files in ConceptDraw MINDMAP and make a single mind map of all your projects. It is convenient to keep all the related files to a project in one place. A single Knowledge Map, supporting multiple pages and hyperlinks, easily becomes the main information source for a project of any size.


ConceptDraw Office helps minimizes the amount of operations during the planning stage of a project and improves the everyday workflow of any project by utilizing visual methods to represent project information.