In this month’s Newsletter I’m writing about two very different topics that I have been discussing with clients recently:
- Management by Fact (or evidence-based decision-making)
- How Mindmapping can be used to enhance creativity and improve productivity (especially when supported by software)
Management by Fact:
Most organisations are overwhelmed by data, some of which gets analysed and turned into more useful reports, but all too often senior and front-line managers simply don’t have the skills to get real insight from the data.
Perhaps some managers are “scared of the maths”, others may not have the time and yet others may not see data analysis and interpretation as part of their role. Add to that the manipulation of data by the media and the political spin put on “official statistics” and it’s no wonder managing by numbers gets a bad press.
The good news is that you don’t need to be a mathematical or statistical genius in order to get real insight from data. There are some well-established techniques that can help managers, at all levels, get more value out of data and enable them to make better quality decisions.
I’ve been working with a colleague (Nigel Marriott) who is a Chartered Statistician to develop some “taster seminars” to show how some of these data handling techniques can be applied effectively. We will be running these as public events in the New Year, but they are also available as in-house workshops now.
Some reasons why you might be interested in attending:
- You hated maths at school but feel you could do with getting more skilled at handling data
- The thought of statistical analysis fills you with dread, but you know there are better ways to analyse data before making decisions
- You need the confidence to be able to show quantitatively that the improvement actions you are taking are delivering real, beneficial performance change
- You want to pick up some simple tips for gaining insights from data that you can apply immediately back at work
The seminars will show you how to answer four basic questions:
- Is the new way better than the old way? (i.e. have we really improved things?)
- Do percentages cause more confusion than clarity?
- Why does an improved average level of performance not necessarily mean customers will be more satisfied?
- Why can’t you summarise performance in one single number?
Watch out for more information on these seminars, or e-mail me if they might be of interest as in-house events.
Mindmapping for Creativity and Productivity:
Mind Mapping on paper is a well-known technique for helping improve creativity. I’ve always thought Mindmapping was a useful tool and that Tony Buzan’s underpinning principles for using them to help improve communication and learning were highly relevant to the business world. It’s just that I could never really see how it could be used in a live workshop environment, or as a daily tool to help managers and staff. I’d really only ever used them “solo”, on paper, for exam revision and for planning articles, training materials etc..
What’s perhaps less well-known than the creativity uses of Mindmapping is its use for improving business productivity and as a knowledge capture/sharing tool.
I’ve become something of a Mindmapping enthusiast over the past six months since having easy-to-use software available on my ipad. I’ve also been using desktop and cloud-based Mindmapping products. So, here are some of the things I’ve been able to do with the software that I think has helped with both creativity and productivity:
- Capture a SWOT Analysis “live” in a business planning workshop
- Create and organise a Work Breakdown Structure for an IT project, with the involvement of key stakeholders at a workshop
- Record a speaker’s notes and content of presentations at conferences and seminars and shared them electronically within 24 hours of the event
- Collaborate online to design some workshops from logistics to content
- Record all the good work that a team is doing, give it some structure and help them use this to focus their next year’s Improvement Plan
- Capture an Action Plan with names and dates, at the end of a meeting, which can be e-mailed to participants within minutes of the end of the meeting
One of the really powerful aspects of using this sort of software is that it makes “Visual Management” so much more of a possibility. Mindmaps can be created on-screen, in real-time, so that everyone contributes and agrees the content and actions.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how Mindmapping software can help you and your team be more creative and productive, I’ll be running a public workshop on this subject in London on November 9th and December 6th (and I’m not selling any particular software!). Please e-mail me for more details.
Until next time, good luck with your improvement efforts.