Mind Mapping – The guru fights the web

Welcome back to all my readers and I that hope 2010 proves to be as good as you expect it to be!

I first came across mind mapping when I read, “The principles of success”. Mind mapping as we know it today has been developed by Tony Buzan. I consider Tony Buzan to be the guru of mind mapping as he has been the main proponent and driver behind mind mapping. Obviously, there will always be the debate that Tony Buzan did not invent mind mapping. I became aware of mind mapping a few years ago. Coincidentally, around the same time, one day, I was sat with my daughter and she appeared to be drawing a diagram. Initially, I did not pay much attention but as I continued to peer over my shoulder, it increasingly looked like a mind map. As I curiously asked her whether she was drawing a mind map, she confirmed that she was (She was 13). So, schools have started to teach mind mapping and people of my age (early 40s) have only just started to learn it! Another reason for this post – To build awareness of this wonderful tool.

Anyway, during the Christmas break as I was researching ways of utilising social media to find myself an appropriate position that could utilise my CIO, programme management, leadership and commercial skills, I found myself facing the predicament that I had so many thoughts, articles and action items based on my research that I was starting to drown. I must admit, I don’t use mind mapping regularly (although I should) and I find it the best tool to organise my thoughts, especially when I suffer from information overload. Mind mapping software became the obvious choice as I also wanted to share the mind map with my job search coach.

As is often the case with me and my blogging, I am usually looking for ideas for my next blog posting. The kind of ideas that I look for my blogging posts are usually areas of IT and sometimes even business that I feel would help others by applying my twist of IT knowledge and knowledge gained through research across the Net. Regular readers of my blog know that I tend to shy away from reviewing software myself as that kind of research has usually been conducted elsewhere and all I have to do is provide references to these articles etc.

As I am a fan of Tony Buzan and consider him the guru of mind mapping, naturally I downloaded the trial version of his iMindMap software, even though there is a huge variety of free and subscription based mind mapping software available at the moment. The main reason, I like his software is that I believe that as he is behind mind mapping as we know it today, his software would reflect that. Now you may ask yourself, well, how do I create a mind map – Click here for the answer?

Mind mapping software saves time and there are many reasons why mind mapping software should be utilised including increasing productivity. There are features to look for when purchasing mind mapping software and it can even help with project management. As I had created my mind map, I decided that it made sense to do a post on mind mapping.

The problem, I face now is that even though iMindmap and Mindjet MindManager seem to lead in the reviews, I am not entirely sure that in today’s, Cloud Computing, web connected world these software packages are the correct choice. I would love to use iMindMap as it has been created with Tony Buzan’s involvement but in today’s connected world, it has no application for iPhones/smartphones. Mindjet MindManager is similar, no iPhone/smartphone application either. As I researched, I found mindmeister that was not only web based, had an iPhone application and was considered to be quite an innovative business. This is a real predicament for my choice, as I want Tony Buzan’s iMindMap software but I want it in the cloud so that I don’t have to worry about saving files on my laptop. I want the freedom to access it from anywhere in the world as I now have the fast connectivity available globally, albeit a few places (an minor inconvenience where I can resort to saving files on my laptop).

Now, we move to question time:

Which software would you have opted for and why? (To help you, I have a list of reviews at the end of the post)

Further resources:

The future Graduate and the IT and Computing skills shortage

I have wanted to write this article for a while now.  When I was in university, the IT skills shortage stood at 3 million and the popular IT/Computing magazines were half full of employment adverts. That era has long gone but we, in the UK are still suffering as IT skills shortages reach the highest level in 10 years,  we continue not to learnt from the past and it seems that while we continue to churn out graduates, they seem to lack skills that employers want/need. In addition, the coming generation shun the industry because of a perceived lack of glamour and a reputation for hard work. It doesn’t all end there as recent reports suggest that The UK’s software development industry will suffer the same decline as the country’s manufacturing sector unless action is taken to tackle the skills shortage.

Have we become a nation that is forced to import talent from asia? Do we import talent because its, well, cheaper? I will let you decide.

This topic  is close to my heart as I strongly feel that the UK can become a leader in the IT/Computing arena. Well, if that is the case, how do we go about doing it?

I have realised now the secret of success for new graduates is to locate a degree course that equips them with the theoratical and practical knowledge of performing well in their area of study. Students would do well by using ‘pre-job board’ sites like Careerplayer. This site holds hundreds of videos with real people/graduates in real jobs, talking about their job and what it really entails, good and bad – sharing their honest view of their role. Using a site like Careerplayer will help them to de-select the IT/Computing career paths, if its not for them.

While researching this topic, I found an interesting article by Felix Redmill of Redmill Consultancy . I totally agree with all that has been said by Felix but would want to add by saying that both the government and industry have a role to play to ensure that the UK has a future equipped with suitable graduates, in essence creating a pseudo standard for such degrees with a vision for wider adoption.

I have split IT and Computing into three areas as I feel that these three areas need a slightly different kind of graduate and at least two of these areas have a pseudo standard that should be adopted/followed UK wide. In actual fact, to raise the bar of these degree courses, I would go as far as to say that all IT/Computing/gaming degrees should be validated by the government, with a minimum agreed of modules that are standard within all  three areas identfied below:

1. Information Technology Management

This is an area where government and industry have been brought together by eskills UK to validate IT management courses.  Read the following for more information:

News in Brief for new Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) Degree course

HP teams with Thames Valley University to address UK Skills Shortage

eskills and IMTB

Universities offering the IMTB degree course (14)

Sample IMTB degree content from University of Manchester

 2. Software Engineering (Programming)

I couldn’t find any resources to indicate even any pseudo standards. This area would be covered well by a region by region basis and associated demand for programmers according to industries served within that region. For example, the universities near the UK’s silicon valley (Reading area) could offer courses on .net, Oracle etc due to local presence of these industry behomeths.

3. Computer Games Progamming

Again for games programming, 81 universities offer courses but only 4 are accredited by Skillset. Again, this suggests a lack of any standard degree for gaming.

It is no wonder, then that when graduates graduate, employers seem bewildered as to the calibre of graduate that they are taking onboard. I have even known of students that have completed their degree courses, employed by employers as programmers only to find that they do not know how to program in the language being used by that employer!