One enthusiast for Mindjet's approach is Gary Hielkema, CEO of Sensor Link, which makes high-voltage testing devices and other equipment for electric utilities. Hielkema is a longtime user of MindManager, but he is new to social software and not a particularly big user of social media, either. Mindjet Connect Action "opened my eyes to the social aspect of communication among the team," he said. "It's so much more efficient than an email."
He and several other employees have adopted the tool to the extent that it's the first thing they look at in the morning, before checking email. More importantly, when someone asks him for a status report on a project, he can check Mindjet Connect and see, visually, exactly where it stands, he said. "I can get a better assessment over a three-minute period than if I walked over to someone's desk and asked, 'Hey, where do we stand on this?'"
Hielkema said he was introduced to MindManager eight or nine years ago by an executive coach he was working with who also used the tool. "It just became an integral piece of my everyday life. It's how I think and how I work now," he said. Further, he's made it available to every Sensor Link employee, he said. "It's just a tool that we use, period."
As Mindjet enhanced the tools capabilities for teams, Hielkema came to see the visualization tool as a simple alternative to product management tools like Microsoft Project. "People want to be able to see something, and have it be as simple as possible," capable of showing "some complexity" but not an overwhelming amount, he said.
Sensor Link has about 30 employees, and its collaborations through Mindjet Connect also include employees at partner organizations--one of the features Hielkema said he really likes. A typical engineering project might start with "scouring the earth for product ideas," with the process outlined in a map that shows how the initial brainstorming flows into research and development and eventually to product development. The lead engineer works with the map, filling in tasks and resources and defining the flow into manufacturing and engineering, Hielkema said.
"Another project that came up the other day was figuring out how to open up the European market to certain products. We're managing that in Mindjet Action, where we've defined something like 22 tasks that have to be done over the coming months," Hielkema said.
Hielkema also uses Mindjet's applications on his iPhone and although the mapping program is "not as robust" as the desktop version, he said, "Action is awesome on my iPhone--I use it a lot." The task-oriented activity stream has proven very useful for tracking projects on the go, he said.
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