Al Bsharah Business Minded, Technically Inclined

Brainstorming with Mind Mapping Software

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Since the Acquisition (press release maybe this Friday?) of Network Insight (NI), I’ve been spending a fair amount of time trying to understand the technologies of our new company.  My responsibilities at NI have always included the technologies we used to run our business, and manage the networks of our many customers from within our 24×7 NOC (among my many other duties).  With the merger, my responsibilities have expanded to include the technologies we (including the new company) used to monitor 7-8 times as many customers, offering likely twice as many features.

I’ve spent the past couple weeks on-and-off with some of my new co-workers…in person, via email, on the phone, etc.  I’ve learned a lot…and have also learned I’ve got a LOT of work ahead of me.  In doing so, I realized I need a much more scalable system to keep track of:

  1. All systems that currently exist today.
  2. What these systems are tasked with doing…?
  3. …and what are they capable of doing?
  4. How do these systems interact with each other…?
  5. …and how could they interact with each other?
  6. Which systems from both companies overlap…?
  7. …and where do we need systems that neither company has?
  8. What’s wrong with the current infrastructure(s)…?
  9. …and what’s right with it?
  10. Who are the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for each system?
  11. What are the business requirements of our new organization…?
  12. …and are these tools mapping to those requirements?  Better yet…CAN they?  If not, what will?
  13. How can these systems be broken out into functional groups?
  14. What is the best way to categorize and prioritize changes and releases to actually get things accomplished?
  15. … (the list really goes on and on, but I’m sure you get the point)

What point, you say?  How in the world do you organize all of this?!

Today I ventured into the world of Mind Mapping.  I’ve been here before, but it’s been a few years.  There are a plethora of options when it comes to Mind Mapping software, and I briefly skimmed the features before deciding upon one to try out.  I spent an hour or so taking my varied lists of notes over the past couple weeks and dumped them into iMindMap.  I’m not necessarily following the strict rules set forth by the software, as I don’t think that’s an appropriate fit…or, I’m just too stubborn to see the perfect fit yet.  <chuckle>  Entirely possible.

So, what are my initial thoughts?  My head is still spinning a bit…but at least I’ve got a big inventory laid out.  If I continue down the path of Mind Mapping, I will likely end up with multiple maps.  The first one I’ve created lists the people and technologies involved, and is a nice looking overview of everything.  Could I have done this with a simple list?  Likely.  Was this a beneficial excercise and hour well spent?  Of course.  Trying new things is always a good idea, and this is no exception.  Even if it turns out not to be a great fit moving forward, I will very likely find a more fitting use in the future.

Right then, what might my next steps be?  Gather more information and keep plugging it in…  Then, determine if this will help me sketch out a big picture that can be modeled into a plan of attack, and result in successful changes.  At a minimum, I’m hoping it can be used as a brainstorming tool to help me devise a path to be modeled into a plan.  Regardless of the outcome, I’m excited to see where this ends up.  I’ll share any future enlightenments…!

Image Credit:  iMindMap

About the author

Al Bsharah

Al’s been involved in multiple San Diego startups since 1999 after leaving the Detroit auto industry as an electrical engineer. He's started two of his own companies where he's raised capital from both VCs and angels, and sold one of them to both Seismic and Return Path. He resides on the board of Startup San Diego, is a Tech Coast Angels member, and has graduated both Techstars and Founder Institute accelerator programs where he now mentors. Al is currently the Vice President of Product Strategy at Seismic and in his free time he manages to play a little beach volleyball, trade stocks, and camp with his wife, son, dog, and friends.

By Al Bsharah
Al Bsharah Business Minded, Technically Inclined