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!"