Mindjet MindManager

It has taken me a long time to review the latest version of MindManager – Mindjet MindManager 6 Mac 199€ Mind Manager. This isn’t because it is a difficult application to either learn or use, as it isn’t, but because I couldn’t decide if I found it useful or not. homepage_trial.jpg

I first came across MindManager a couple of years ago when I was helping a friend in Ireland develop a business plan. He sent me a couple of documents that he had created in MindManager (for Windows). My impression at the time was that it was great to receive the information in this format, but I felt that the amount of effort that it must have taken to create the document was disproportionate to the benefit.

When I first heard that MindManager was available for the Mac I was excited, but then I sat back and asked myself why. I recalled that my impression from before was “clever product, not sure I could ever see myself using it”, so whilst I am always keen to find reasons to use the Mac, I was a little skeptical as to whether I would actually find it useful.

First though I thought I would check with Keith to see if he was still using the application, as I thought that would be a good indication of the long term benefits of the application. As we all know new applications come out all the time that say they will “help our productivity” and if you are like me in the past I am sure you have tried (and discarded) more than you have ever stuck with?

Keith is currently working on a new venture , whilst at the same time concentrating on his consultancy business . He is still using MindManger and kindly sent me a document he had produced on his Windows PC to check that it opened up on my Mac. It did. He also provided me with a quote; “I use it for summarising information. This kind of approach would be impossible to do with Word. I also use it in the early stages of a project to gather my thoughts. And finally I used it to prepare and present the functional specification for dbtwang in the guise of a site map using mindmap.”

I was encouraged, so felt pretty enthusiastic as I set about testing the application for myself. As ever with the Mac installation was a simple and easy process and the Flash tutorial was very positive, but a little too bland and repetitive. The overview starts with a series of questions that I could honestly say yes to:

– I plan projects,
– I create processes,
– I write documents,
– I manage meetings,
– I attend and control brainstorming sessions, and
– I create and present presentations.

So in theory MindManager is made for someone like me, but the point is; I already do all of the above, and apart from generating the content don’t feel like I have that many problems producing any of them.

I have used MindManager for all of the above over the last month and can’t find fault with it. The templates that come with it are useful, and the ease of use is fine. The interaction with the internet and existing documents is slick and the document output is very professional. In short there is nothing to criticize the application for. So why am I not glowing in my feelings towards it? I think the answer lies in my own personal preference for “pen and paper”! Nobody is a bigger fan of technology than me but I do try and use technology that enhances rather than duplicates. To “create” thoughts and ideas I still like a pen and paper or a white board. I find it more flexible and it intuitively feels “right”. To start with a blank sheet of paper and hours later have a series of scribbles, notes, sketches, questions etc that slowly take shape into an idea, business plan or presentation is tremendously rewarding to me. I missed this with MindManager. Sure, the project took shape just the same, and the end result was certainly more presentable than my sheets of paper, but the creative process wasn’t the same. It felt a little sterile, forced and restrictive. Too much time was taken up with the creation of the document rather than the generation of the content. From time to time I come across old notes in my files and spend time looking at them and thinking nostalgically about their creation, the stage of my life at that time etc. I can’t see me bothering to open up old files on my Mac in years to come in the same way?

So, am I using MindManager still? Yes. I have got into the habit of converting my pen and paper scribbles into files and I can see some benefits in this. Will I be doing it still in two years? I can’t say. Keith is so there is a chance, but then again as anybody that knows us both will tell you, I am not Keith!

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