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Mind-Map Your Business Strategy

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 Dr. Scott S. Elliott, Principal and Founder

Every technology business is different. There is no prescribed strategy that works for all businesses - not even for similar businesses within a narrow class. Every one has a different set of Value Propositions, opportunities and constraints. How can we design and analyze the best strategy?

One set of tools that works very well to brainstorm and develop a strategy is mind-mapping software. There are robust, commercial packages such as Mind Manager from MindJet, and a lot of open-source packages such as FreeMind and XMind. you can find a nice listing on Wikipedia here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mind_mapping_software.

These packages make it easy to start from a central node or idea, then add branches around the node to fill-out related ideas, causes and effects, etc. Of course you can do this by hand on a white board or on paper, but the software reformats the chart on-the-fly and makes room for more branches. Also you can edit, move and order branches at will, as shown in this simple cause-effect example using XMind.

observe_symptom

Even if your business already has a formally written Strategic Plan, it is a good idea to map it or re-map it in your team using a mind-mapping package. Gather your strategic team and start to develop the Map of your Strategy. We find it best to start from a blank worksheet and brainstorm all of the elements. If you bring in a preliminary filled-out map or a pre-developed plan, it could constrain the thinking of your team.

Having said that, below is a typical strategic mind map that may have been developed by such a team (click on the graphic for an expanded version). The idea is to put some thought into every aspect of the business. Consider each branch of the tree you have created, what and how you will invest resources and mindshare to it, what the constraints are, who is responsible, etc. You can keep adding outward branches, or make extensive notes within a branch. Feel free to use this one as a reference to see if you missed anything after brainstorming your own plan.

StratPlan

When you feel that you have a full "tree" covering all of the important aspects of the Strategic Plan, it is time to prioritize and pare it down to something manageable. You can use prioritizing symbols and/or hide (collapse) less important branches to get down to the essentials for your business.

The resulting pared tree makes an excellent nucleus for your new Strategic Plan! You can then use it in management meetings with colors and symbols to track progress and problems, add new opportunities and constraints, assign initiatives and programs, etc. This mind-map should be owned by the Strategy leader (usually the CEO), and should be a living, changing document.

Developing a winning strategy is not simple, but approaching it with this kind of mind-mapping tool makes it easier to see the big picture and focus on the right parameters for your business.

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TechZecs, LLC
1730 Kearny Street,
Suite F-3
San Francisco,  California
94133 USA

Principal and Founder

Dr. Scott S. Elliott
Telephone: +1.415.830.5520
Email: scott.elliott@techzecs.com
           info@techzecs.com

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