Broken Technology Series: MindManager from Mindjet

About 2 years ago I started this blog called Maven Mapper's Information.  The original goal of the blog was to learn how to blog while talking about knowledge management tools such as my favorite at the time MindManager Pro 6.  A couple years have gone by since then, this blog has grown and moved over to Maven Mappers Information - the light( or ) and this blog now focuses on digging into technologies and industries to analyze situations critically.

This grew out of a series of articles we referred to as the Broken Technology Series.  MindManager (Pro 7) is still one of my favorite knowledge management software tools.  However, its evolution has not kept the momentum and early promise that it had built through versions 3, 4 and 5.  Six made some improvements that in a vacuum would have been good enough, but the world did not sit still while MindManager took small steps. 

Social networking and blogging and user generated video content sprang into the circles of many technology professionals and MindManager was not there.

With version 5 MindManager moved away from collaborative possibilities with MindManager and focused on the least common denominator, the PC user running Microsoft Office.  This seemed like a good strategic move at the time to increase the business user base.  However, in retrospect it seems to have severely hindered Mindjet's abilities to make innovative improvements in MindManager.

  • Collaborative Usages of MindManager ground to a halt
  • Integrations with Word, Outlook and Excel stalled and left users with a taste of potential but tools that were often times more trouble than they were worth
  • With Version 6 PowerPoint integration improved significantly, but without improvements in other areas it was too little too late.  Many knowledge professionals were already moving away from PowerPoint centric models
  • Mindjet failed to see the direction that Microsoft was moving as it bought Proclarity and headed towards score cards and heavily integrated database systems as well.  This left MindMaps unconnected to the most important data most companies have, their ERP and customer relationship databases.
  • On the Internet, MindManager was completely absent as service after service popped up to offer mindmapping solutions for very low rates and more importantly they offered online collaboration with groups

Mindjet dabbled with tablet PC support enabling people to interface in new ways with knowledge on a laptop.  They then added a stripped down version of their program for Macs but improvements to upgrade the software to the full functionality of the PC version have not happened.  Mindjet came out with version 7 last May to a dull thud.  The new upgrade simply incorporated the new Microsoft look and feel and offered just a few user upgrades in functionality.

This year as Mindjet starts to try and find its future, they have to find a way to become relevant again with version 8.  There are several integral problems with the software that make it tedious for users in 2008:

  • It still does not allow group or online collaboration
  • It has no connection to large databases or systems making score-carding or analysis completely manual
  • Its notes section after years still does not include html support. 
    • This may seem trivial, but it means that MindManager cannot function with any of the dominant social networking tools today from Digg to Facebook to LinkedIn to Blogs, and YouTube
    • MindManager teases us with a difficult feedreader tool that could be powerful, but it has not been upgraded in several years now and does not function at all with feeds managed through Feedburner, the largest and dominant feed management system on the net (recently acquired by Google)

They also need to figure out how to deal with complexity.  When a person digs into a problem, they gather more and more details.  MindManager is an excellent tool for breaking down a problem into core components and giving the user a view of the big picture.  However, just like a person trying to zoom into a satellite view of the earth, all that information can start to look like chaos and unlike other programs such as Topicscape, a 3D mindmapping solution, MindManager has not figured out how to organize the chaos in a way that keeps the interface running and easy to use.

This is still a software tool that I keep on my computer and use on a regular basis, but it is stagnating and needs an infusion and revitalization of its core functionality.  MindManager needs to reinvent several important parts of its tools and for several years now, Mindjet has seemed to be unwilling to consider this necessity.

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