Earlier we explored how to double your creativity with collaborative mind-mapping. So you have your mind map – now what? If you are new to mind-mapping the output from your activities may seem a bit chaotic. That’s great! It’s basically a dump of your creative ideas, which does not always follow a linear and logical path. But as humans we love to categorize and transform order from chaos. Here is an overview of how you can approach the next steps:
Your mind map will probably have a few logical themes. It may be obvious and show up as your individual branches, or you may want to group branches together. Identify themes within your mind map and create a list. I like to use a spreadsheet (google docs) that allows me to sort and arrange the project list as I go through the additional steps to follow. [Update: google docs is now google drive – still good stuff!]
During the mind mapping process, all judgements were tabled….until now. At this point you want to go through your list of ‘projects’ and select the ones that match your goals and objectives. If an item does not support your values, goals, and objectives then it comes off the list. This is your first filter. You can save the ideas that do not match your goals to another file, but they must come off your current list. Don’t have a list of goals? Read this.
Prioritizing your list includes considering the following: are there dependencies between items? does one project need to be completed before another? are there conflicting projects? Make a list of the factors against which you’ll measure your projects. These can include the questions above plus: Resources needed, timeline expected, skills needed, complexity of the project etc. Force rank your list from 1 (most important) until all are assigned a number.
Most likely you don’t have enough information to create a valid prioritized list. You may need to take time and explore the answers to the questions about resources, skills, and complexity of the projects. Identify the projects which need to have this feasibility study conducted. Based on your first assessment of prioritization, take the first project and conduct your feasibility. Then adjust the priority of the project based on your findings. Some additional questions to consider: can you actually do this project? do you have the skills? the time? what are the gaps? what do you need to find out about the project before you can make a decision whether or not to do it?
Once you have a revised project list based on your feasibility, it’s time to start working on project number one. Now that is getting into project management. One of my favorite tools for project management is openproject by Serena. Try it out! [Update: This tool is no longer supported by Serena but you can learn more here.]