Thursday, May 04, 2006

#6 in his 10 Most Popular Posts of April 2006

The ever-mysterious "Admin1" over at Note Talkers named his post where he mentions "the ResultsManager Meme" and my blog as #6 in his 10 Most Popular Posts of April 2006.

Here's the link for his the link where he mentions this blog.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

ResultsManager's Jurassic Evangelist

Mindjet's Hobie Swan recently called me an "evangelist for ResultsManager and MindManager."

And I gotta tell you, that took me aback. I grew up in the heartland of America and I've been (dragged) to the old-fashioned tent revivals where sweaty, bible-thumping men screamed "Devils get out!" into the faces of the locals while they danced in electric chair spasms under his(allegedly) healing hand.

But my past life associations aside, Hobie meant it as a compliment and I took it as such, especially since he was referencing Guy Kawasaki's title of "Raging Inexorable Thunder-Lizard Evangelist" from his early days at Apple.

High praise, indeed coming from such a keen intellect and one of the top voices in the visual knowledge management field.

But it's really not such a big surprise when you think about it. ResultsManager and MindManager are two of my three favorite/most valued apps (the third being Microsoft's OneNote). Frankly, I don't see how you realistically use MindManager w/o ResultsManager (and I made my case for that here).

You need MindManager to get a visual survey of the 'domain' of the project -- a map of the territory, if you will. But right on the heels of that, you also need ResultsManager (or something like it) to make sure that the right things get done at the right time.

And if I build on McFarlin's metaphor, ResultsManager functions as the bureaucrat in the Roman Empire of your life to make sure everything gets done -- i.e., "making sure the trains run on time."

And when need be, ResultsManager also functions as the virtual centurion to make sure nothing goes overdue or gets lost and when it inevitably does -- he makes sure the bureaucrat doesn't go home until he's accounted for everything.

On second thought, you could also consider ResultsManager to functions as a shepherd, even a border collie, corralling all the project elements on the verge of straying and making sure they're accounted for each evening.

And if I further the point by saying the various moving parts of multiple projects is like herding cats, then that would be one metaphor too many and they'll snatch my union card from me. Again.

Together, MindManager, ResultsManager and OneNote form the tripos of the core functionality of my companies. I couldn't do what I do, if I didn't have the correct tools to get the jobs done in the most efficient way possible.

I need MindManager to visually map what needs to be done and where my project resources are.

I need ResultsManager to put deadlines on those project elements and give them context and keep each in my face until they got done.

And I need OneNote for creating and storing my content and ideas and having a searchable database to find everything I've written in flash.

Btw, just why in the world are ResultsManager and MindManager separate products? They dovetail so naturally together that using one without the other is like eating a sandwich without the bread.

Sure, you can eat the components separately -- but it tastes so much better eat them together.

Guess we can all file that little puzzler under "Things That Make You Go Hmmm ..."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

World-Famous Choreographer & ResultsManager Dance Together

In Twyla Tharp's book "The Creative Habit" world-famous choreographer Twyla Tharp and I have a lot in common -- we start projects the same way.

Well, almost.

She gets a banker's box from Office Depot.

I make a MindManager map.

She doesn't feel organized until she has the box with the project name outside it.

I don't feel in control of the project until I have a map and a project name.

But here I depart in a very major way -- I use RM to start populating it with project data. Establishing the scope of the overall project, other major projects and their sub-projects along with actions items, dates.

Tharp just throws everything related to the project into the box.

She puts all project elements into her project box, and I link to all available project resources via my map -- websites, docs created in other apps, email messages -- in other words, the entire universe of that project. To read a great analogy to this mindset, see McFarlin's "You Are Rome" post.

Just like Tharp, "The simple act of writing a project name on the box means I've started work."

Yep, I understand that. My simple of act of creating a map and start assigning RM tags to it means the project is on and I'm on the clock.

I don’t feel entirely comfortable in the project until I know that when I do a Sweep and Review with ResultsManager, everything's going to be accounted for.

It's a very cool, powerful feeling. I'm in control of the project and nothing slips by me because ResultsManager catches everything.

And as you've all seen as I daily go through my breakthroughs and my screw-ups on this public stage -- ResultsManager catches everything in a merciless, good way.

Now, Just One Damn Minute, Captain . . .*

In their latest newsletter (read it here), Mindjet CEO Robert Gordon seemed to overstate his case when claimed how well MindManager does project management.

Now for the record, I love MindManager. It's a great tool and I couldn't juggle the demands of 3 companies and a personal life without it. But by itself it can, at the most basic level, do an okay job at project management, but I think it's overstating the case to say things like this:

"MindManager provides a high-level overview even as it manages daily tasks. You never lose sight of the overall project goals. That's project management from start to finish."
Not entirely accurate there, Bob.

MM needs help and a lot of it to do effective project management. Yes, in the broadest sense of the phrase it does provide a high-level overview (and btw, isn't it redundant to use "high-level" and "overview" in the same sentence?).

And he goes further and claims that "You never lose sight of the overall project goals."

Oh yeah, Bob? Have you actually used your product to manage projects? To manage multiple projects scattered across several maps? If you have tasks on one or two maps removed from the main, I promise you -- they're out-of-sight/out-of-mind unless you engage in the convoluted hokey-pokey of filtering by criteria.

And if that's the case, then "that's what it's all about." For you.

Then he finishes with what I'm sure is meant to be the victorious flourish that drives his point home: "That's project management from start to finish."

No it's not, Bob. With all due respect. Some key features to do effective PM have been left out of that little "high-level overview" over yours.

For example, how does MindManager automate the typical PM tasks like reviewing? Even Jason Womack, one of the head trainers of the Getting Things Done process says that "If you're not doing the review, you're not doing GTD."

And what about automating repetitive chores of project management? Sweeping up overdue project elements? Being able to survey the Empire Of Your Life (see Kyle McFarlin's excellent post "You Are Rome") according to what you want to focus on in that phase? And what about doing all of that simply, easily and quickly?

Not MM's forte on any of those points.

Furthermore, how does MindManager alert you to tasks that have become overdue and keep them in front of you 'til you handle them?

Granted, you can use the tasks icons and filter everything in MindManager -- but it's really tedious and I'd bet that most don't keep going through all those extra steps after the initial novelty wears off.

"MindManager transforms captured data into actionable knowledge that project managers can use to make better decisions, communicate more effectively, and guide the project to a successful completion."
Frankly, someone over there needs to quit sniffing the marketing glue. Cheeky, I know, though I mean it with all due respect.

But MindManager does not in fact do that. What actually 'transforms captured data into actionable knowledge' for project managers is a tool like ResultsManager. I really like ResultsManager as would anyone who's profited tremendously from an effective tool.

MindManager needs ResultsManager (or something like it) to complete the full PM monty. And RM won't work without MindManager -- so they need each other.

Together the bolster the other's weaknesses and create an unbeatable project management tool. Otherwise it's only half a solution and as my mentor Werner Erhard was fond of saying, "Being half-assed is bad no matter which cheek you have left."

Nudge. Wink. Send.

*= In the early days of the Internet, a .wav file was circulated for attaching to the Windows "Critical Stop" event. It was a voice impersonator (and a damned good one) of Mr. Spock saying something he would never say during the classic series, "Now just one damn minute, Captain!"

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Your Loop Of Continuous Execution

Kyle McFarlin concludes his series on "Conquering Your World With ResultsManager."

You don't need to read them before reading this, but if you want to, here are his
first, second and third and fourth posts.

Take it away, Kyle:

Perhaps the greatest thing you gain by taking balanced action on Projects you deem important in your far-flung life areas is momentum. Tons of it. This cannot be overemphasized.

I know if you're in the early stages of it, you may even feel less productive than usual. Change is not easy - if it were, wouldn't everybody be doing it?

But if you can shoot your way out of hell, then think about how grand your life will be once you've gotten some momentum and generated some great results in your personal and professional areas.

Week after week, you will become faster, happier, lighter and more productive. Abraham Maslow will be grinning in his grave as you self-actualize.

Friday, April 28, 2006

How To Get Going

Kyle McFarlin continues his series on "Conquering Your World With ResultsManager."

In this post, Kyle continues building on the themes he started in his first, second and third posts.

Here, he gives you a practical tool for how to use RM as a Life Balance Tool. I did the exercise to test it out before posting. And it's . . . informative.

Take it away, Kyle:

Up until now my series of posts have been highly theoretical.

I now have a tangible instruction list for you:

1. First you'll need the demo map I created for you, so click here to get it. Next, right-click on it and select "Save a Copy". Place the copy in a folder of your choosing.

2. Open up the Review Dashboard with Areas Template map. In MindManager, go to Tools and select "Install ResultsManager Template". Once it is successfully installed, close the map.

3. Open up your Map Central. Go to File>Create ResultsManager Dashboard and under the drop down arrow select "Review Dashboard with Areas (Power User)".

Make sure the Dashboard is set to scan through all of your Map Central, and click "OK".

4. Once your Review Dashboard with Areas is Created, open up your Committed and Someday/Maybe Project lists. More than likely, all of your projects are listed under "No Area".

That's okay, it's time for you to assign an Area to each of your Projects.

5. Go ahead and add the Areas to Master Lists by using the ResultsManager Edit dialogue (Tools>ResultsManager Options) to set Areas in the dashboard map.

6. Remember to go to File>Send Dashboard Changes before you close the Review Dashboard with Areas.

7. Go back to Map Central and rerun your Review Dashboard with Areas. This time, your Projects should appear under their respective areas in Committed and Someday/Maybe Projects. It's now time for you to Review as normal and decide what you are committed to and what you are not.

If you have 2 or 3 projects you are working on which must be completed or else ... make sure they have a Priority 1 marker (the 1 icon) on the Project.

The main goal is to have a workload that is a) realistic and b) balanced.

I personally like the idea of 70% of projects being professional and 30% personal, but I'm open to your thoughts on it if you'll be open to mine.

8. Kick ass and take names during the week, and repeat the Review with Areas prioritization process one week later.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

You Are Rome

Kyle McFarlin continues his series on "Conquering Your World With ResultsManager." In this post, Kyle builds on the themes he started in his first post and his second post. Here, he uses the metaphor of the greatest empire in history to show you how to become what you want to be using RM.

Take it away, Kyle:

Essentially, you are Rome, the conscious nerve center of your very own empire.

And I don't care if you're a hundredaire or a millionaire: you are your own empire that must be ruled from within or will be conquered from without.

In essence, bringing a project or area of your life into MindManager and ResultsManager is very similar to the Roman conquest of a territory. By accepting Roman authority and citizenship, your life areas are incorporated into a system that will see them tracked, enhanced and evaluated.

You will also have the ability to rule the far-flung territories of your life from the safety of Rome, your conscious nerve center. And because your life areas are now ruled from the central force you have become, they now have the resources and proper oversight to become real, allowing you to reach your highest potential.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

ResultsManager Straddles Both Worlds

More of guest poster Kyle McFarlin's series "Conquering Your World With ResultsManager." In this post, Kyle builds on the theme he started yesterday.

Take it away, Kyle:

I'm going to submit something of an arbitrary thought on the balance of projects you have up in the air at any one time. I'd say that about 30% of your projects should be of a personal nature and 70% should be professional. And I've got a feeling 90+% of people disagree with me here, but luckily I'm not going for consensus ;).

I fully understand that work is where the necessities for having a personal life come from.

But likewise, the personal life is the core from which the strength to address the professional life arises. So, there are less active personal projects personal (30%) than professional (70%), but the personal core of projects are really more important, because they make the professional output possible.

The point is life is circular, and if you aren't adressing your personal areas you are continuously being bitten in the ass by personal aspects of your life you've neglected. If you let a problem with a child go for weeks or months because you were too wrapped up in professional pursuits, what might have once taken 3 hours to address could end up taking 30. And if you don't believe me, then you've never seen absent parents find out their teenager has a substance problem.

So for you hard charging types, I'm saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in your personal life. At the end of the day, why let personal issues be blood sucking maggots to your professional pursuits when they can be the very foundation from which you spring forth to attain career greatness?!?!

Essentially, I'm implying no matter who you are, anything from a Granola Crunching Earth Mother to a 100 hour a week CEO, your personal life will call you back: you can either face it proactively or reactively. You must drive profitability not only in the professional realm but also the personal realm. And why not?

Won't it be a great day when you realize doing pushups instead of nothing makes your spouse more attracted to you, prompting an early morning 'closeness session' that drives up your endorphins, resulting in heightened brain chemistry that allows you to contribute the killer idea in the 9am meeting that gets you a promotion? Jim Collins calls it getting the "flywheel spinning" and Gandhi referred to life as "one interconnected whole".

But if you're seeing that skillful management of your personal life allows you better business results, isn't that both fun and a bit intimidating? After all, you could have a 2 or 3 year shitstorm you'll have to face in order to get back to good karma ;).

Yeah, you're going to have to shoot your way out, and no amount of technology can save you from that. However, if you're willing to embrace the culture, the technology can give you the best tactical view possible of the shootout, giving you maximum odds of achieving victory.

This Blog Has Changed

It's now "Taming Project Chaos - 28+ Days With ResultsManager." And the description has also changed to reflect the slight shift in focus:

"The verdict is in and it's Thumb's Up for ResultsManager! Continue to follow the trials and triumphs of applying Gyronix's ultimate project planning tool to straddling your personal and professional worlds."

Though it's no longer focused on just my experiences with applying RM, the new focus will feature the experiences of RM Power Users and novices alike. Plus, there will be a lot of practical Tips, Tricks & Traps that you won't find in the manual or the Help file.

Stay tuned. It's going to get even more interesting from here on out.

Family Picnic Or Billion Dollar Project?

As promised, here is the first of a series of posts from Kyle McFarlin, Gyronix's Head Trainer ("head" as in chief, not the lump above your shoulders) for integrating RM into a company's workflow.

The overall arcing theme of these posts is called "Conquer Your World with ResultsManager."

I was stunned when I first read what you're about to. His posts are so thought-provoking, so rich that I got posting envy just from reading them. They're so meaty that I was afraid readers would gloss over certain points because they were still mentally digesting something he said several sentences back.

I think they're meant to be read together, so if there's any incoherency -- mea culpa for breaking them into bitesized pieces. They're certainly cogent when read in sequence.

So here's Kyle:

The combination of MindManager and ResultsManager has an unprecedented aspect to it: it can be used as a Life Balance Tool, or used to drive billion dollar projects. Not many tools in the business or personal realms are so adaptable. Personally, the last time I had so much fun with technology was Contra on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

MindManager can be used to visualize almost any body of information, situation, project or process you desire. Then, ResultsManager can extract Project, Task and Relationship information from those visualizations: there is no restriction on the subject matter.

Now, you may think what you learn at the office can't possibly translate at home. Why not? If you're going to spend most of your waking life at work, shouldn't it sharpen you for handling the rigors of your home life? If you could go through the same logic process for a family picnic as you would a billion dollar merger, wouldn't that give you a power previousy unattainable?

If you believe in the perfect forms proposed by the ancient Greek philosophers, then it's implied there is a perfect form for project management: The Gyronix System is an early attempt at finding and taking advantage of it.

No one is saying we're there yet, but if we can vaguely see that form out in the distance and use our best artist's sketch of it for managing our most important initiatives, then it makes sense that we no longer act as though best practices at work don't apply at home and vice versa.

Universals do exist: imagine if you could use the same discipline for setting up a sales pipeline as a book of poetry.