Originally known as “Eating your own dog food”, “Drinking your own champagne” is a slang term first used in 2007 by Pegasystems’ CIO, Jo Hoppe, which describes the practice of a company using its own products, either to test drive it before the release or to show confidence in it. Well, we at MindMeister have another reason to use our own product, and that is: We actually really like it.
From development to sales, every department and every employee actively uses MindMeister. Together, we own about 300 active mind maps, which we use to collect ideas, improve our tool, work on projects or plan company getaways. Now, 300 might not sound like much, but again, those are just our active maps. Don’t get us started on the 9.8 K we’ve got archived …
We figured some of you might be interested in taking a look behind the scenes, so we’ve put together a short customer success story about one of MindMeister’s best customers: the MindMeister team.
How MindMeister Uses MindMeister
“Whenever we start working on a new version of MindMeister, the first thing we do is create a road map for it,” explains Laura, one of MindMeister’s senior developers. “The entire development team as well as management are involved in the initial brainstorming sessions. We note what we want the new version to include and everyone can contribute their ideas. After sorting through everything and eliminating what we decide against, we structure our map and set priorities for features and bug fixes.
Every bigger project basically gets its own mind map. For the release of MindMeister 9 for instance we’re using a pretty big map to guide us through the entire testing process. Every bug and its priority are duly noted there and whoever is assigned a task subsequently notes their progress in fixing it.
It’s important for us to continually use MindMeister in order to experience first-hand what our users are experiencing. It helps us to focus on what’s important and often leads us to problems before any of our users are being affected.”
“Basically, all our marketing activities are outlined in a collection of about ten mind maps, which are shared with all members of the marketing department as well as our analytics and sales managers, and of course management. There is one index map, which provides an overview of the various sub maps which hold more detailed information. Those include plans for SEO and advertisements, PR, business development, content and community, among others. At the beginning of each year, we work together to update the maps and identify new goals and priorities for the following twelve months. Specific projects are defined, mapped out and again linked to their respective sub maps.
Beside this big map structure, I also create individual mind maps to outline articles for the blog, decide on the contents of our newsletters, and structure press releases. Sometimes, those maps are extremely rough, more a collection of thoughts, topics and links than anything else. Other times I just keep adding details, writing down keywords and whole phrases until I have a fully developed text. In that case I just export the whole map as a Word document and then take it form there.”
“I create a new map for myself every year. I start with the most important thing, which are the goals I want to achieve. On the opposite side of my map, I create a topic for ‘Projects & Experiments’, which is where I list the various projects I plan to realize in order to reach the stated goals. Projects are marked with colored flags and often feature deadlines, notes and links to my research.
As soon as I’ve completed a project or implemented a new idea, I drag it to my ‘Accomplished’ topic. From there, I can easily retrieve it, create a presentation with it or export it to a Word document to turn it into a report.”
Business Development & Partner Management
“When managing our various partners around the world there are many different aspects to what they need and when it’s needed,” explains Richard, MindMeister’s partner manager. “It’s very important for me to stay on top of everything and to respond to requests as quickly as possible. For managing our partners I have one main mind map in which I have each partner listed on level 1 nodes. Under each partner I have contact details, notes, next steps and reminders for milestones.
Another map we use a lot, which is similar to the Partner Management map, is called New Business Development, in this map we track each stage of the process of building relationships with new strategic partners. Everything from initial contact to assigning tasks is recorded in this map. Again we also have next steps and contact details, but it is also used to schedule meetings, assign tasks and attach files. Being able to attach files is great, it gives us easy access to NDAs and contracts when working in the map.
Having all this information in mind maps makes it really easy to share and report to management. They can just open the mind map to see the current status of each ongoing project and also see what stage we are at with securing new partnerships. These mind maps are also used to host our weekly update meetings, the three of us involved in sales and business development open the mind map in Google Hangouts and easily run through everything from the previous week.”
“Firstly, all important maps from the various departments are shared with us,” says MindMeister’s co-founder and managing director, Michael. “This way, we can effortlessly keep an eye on developments and give our input whenever the need arises. We regularly take part in real-time brainstorming sessions with our employees, for this is how some of our best ideas are born. It’s also how MindMeister came into existence in the first place. A few years ago, we were using Google’s Writely (which would eventually become Google Docs) to collaborate on projects, while using MindManager to brainstorm ideas and organize meetings. We realized how much more efficient we could be with a tool that combined Writely’s collaboration features with a mapping format such as MindManager’s, and decided to realize this tool ourselves. Even if nobody else would find it useful, we knew at least we would.
After brainstorming, collaborating and structuring your content, presenting it is the next logical step, which is why we later added presentation mode as the third crucial component of MindMeister. Since its release, we’ve been using the feature for all our presentations in and outside the office. We employ it at conferences, like we did at the last Biggerplate Unplugged in Utrecht, present our efforts to our investors and use it as a visual aid for all sorts of in-office meetings.”
Besides including MindMeister in our workflow at the office, almost all of us also use the tool for private purposes. We plan our trips and parties, summarize books and other interesting material and create shopping lists. One of our developers organized his move with MindMeister last year and Richard from our business development team is currently planning his wedding with the tool. We outline essays and short stories, make wish lists for christmas, collect our favorite recipes, and much more.
We’re sure that whoever uses our tool will like it – not because we’re cocky, but because we truly do.