“The IT infrastructure is provided by that facility, but they just provide the basics - email, communications. We are the only ones in the facility that I’m aware of that is using Mindmanager for any sort of project management. We’re not even using it across all of BikeNZ yet, but I can see in our events group they would find benefit. We also rely on Pelorus Trust contractors for ongoing maintenance.”
Mind mapping, through using the Mindmanager software, is a form of brainstorming and visual mapping. BikeNZ is using MindManager 8 software from Mindjet Corporation. Simmonds says its functions simplify the downloading of ideas, turn these into documentation and allow a number of staff to work on various parts of the plans while minimising conflicts.
“From my perspective I’m using it for logistical projects to do with capturing and managing information. A lot of our coaches and sports science people use it in a different way to do the mind mapping and brainstorming.”
He says there hasn’t been a direct cost saving to the organisation yet, but it has increased efficiency with staff based in Wellington and around the world.
“The use of email is essential, but you wind up with many email covering a topic and, depending how people manage their email, it’s sometimes quite difficult to find the one you want. What we’re doing is capturing the key information, putting that into the mind map and then it’s available all around the world to our staff which is far easier.”
BikeNZ’s high-performance plan is focused on building a culture of success for competitive cycling. The plan encompasses coaches, sports science, technology, equipment and support.
He would recommend MindManager to CIOs looking to manage their IT staff. “It’s not a top-end project management tool, but in my experience a couple of those top-end tools don’t deliver what you want because they’re too complicated.
“For BikeNZ, we run a lot of small projects over the year. Each one isn’t that difficult on their own, but the fact there is a large number running week by week means a project management tool that is easy to use and has enough functionality is all we need.”
Simmonds says although New Zealand has a strong record in cycling events at the Commonwealth Games, the tally is not as great at the Olympics. “We won two Olympic medals in Beijing, China so we’d like to achieve more than that [for London]. We’re targeting track and BMX events, which is where we can make a difference.”
Sidebar: A productivity tool for CIOs
Mind mapping - the diagramming of ideas and concepts to help streamline thought processes and organise information - has come a long way since the standard pencil-and-paper method of decades past. New applications now help users organise, house and link thousands of pieces of information, including reports, bookmarks and projects, in a personalized and visual way. And given the volume of complex information for which CIOs are responsible, mind mapping should be top of list in personal productivity tools, says Gartner research director Donna Fitzgerald. “It allows you to make your thinking process and ideas concrete,” she says. “It should be the first thing you pull up when you think through a new project.”
In many mind mapping applications, you start with a central thought or idea, then add branches - or subcategories - to break down the topic. These subcategories could be thoughts or include links referencing more information, PDFs you can upload or reports to reference. There are plenty of applications to choose from out there, from Freemind to MindMeister.
Some maps can grow to house tens of thousands of “thoughts” - or points- over time. However, mind mapping users say that since the map is organised in a way that makes sense to you, it never feels overwhelming.
Christopher David, assistant VP at IT consultancy Catapult Technology, says maintaining your map is like tending a garden. “You weed out the stuff you don’t need. Mind mapping is a process that grows over time, and the time-management and productivity benefits are priceless.” Kristin Burnham
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