Archive for February 2008

Map Your Mind with Mind Mapping Software

Mind mapping is a cool technique to use in generating creative ideas for problem solving, and sometimes even in studying. I first, learned about the technique in a book titled “Business Creativity” (Kogan Page Better Management Skills series), and used it for generating creative ideas for work related activities. Apart from that, I have never thought about other usage of this technique, until I recently studied it in detail, as part of one of my MBA subjects. When studying further on mind-mapping technique, I came to know that there are specialty software developed for this purpose. If you Google for “Mind Mapping Software” you will find thousands of links to websites offering hundreds of mind mapping tools.

I downloaded one such tool named “Visual Mind” and I was amazed about how helpful it could be in our day-to-day life. They offer a 30 days free trial for their Visual Mind software, and after that, you have to register your trial version.

I installed Visual Mind, on my laptop, and played around with it for a while, during the weekend. I’m really impressed!

Visual mind allows you to create mind maps from scratch, or you can select from a list of templates.

It offers simply an amazing, user-friendly interface, where you can easily add/remove child branches to your mind map, and add notes to it. The best part is, you can export the entire mind map into a word document, with automatic numbering included for all topics.

If you are studying about a subject (say, Search Engine Marketing), you can first create your mind map using Visual Mind, and add as many as branches you wish. Then you can add notes to each of the branch title if you wish. After finishing your mind map, you can easily export it into a MS Word document. That’s your study note on Search Engine Marketing!

You can create a business plan or a project plan your wedding, in the same manner.

I thought it’s going to help me a lot, in my MBA studies, as I can use it to generate study notes when I surf the internet while studying. However, when I check the price of the software, I realized it was little too much for me! The full version with export to MS Word feature, cost about 290 USD (SLR 29,000/-).

So, naturally I was compelled to Google the keyword “free mind mapping software” and came up with this one on I downloaded it, but have not had a time to install it and test. Most definitely, I will give it a try during next week, and see if that serves the same purpose as Visual Mind.

Then I found Mindomo, a web based mind mapping tool. They too have a free version and a paid version for 6 USD per month, but I don’t think it’s advanced as much as the Visual Mind tool. Free Mind Map is another free tool available for downloading.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Task Oriented Managers and Social Oriented Managers

These two styles of management can be seen as directly derived from the concept of “masculinity & femininity in management”, even though all the time it cannot be used synonymously. Masculinity and femininity aspects cover a wider range of managerial traits of individuals, whereas task orientation and social orientation can be seen as only a one facet of it.

Masculinity and Femininity in National Cultures

Masculinity Vs Femininity orientation in national cultures, is one of the five cultural dimensions coined by Geert Hofstede in a research study done using matched samples of business employees across more than 50 countries.

Masculinity or femininity orientation in national cultures plays a major role in defining the organizational cultures in respective countries, and the style of management adopted by managers in these two types of cultures.

A national culture, with far more masculine orientation, will produce organizations with more “masculine managers” whereas a national culture, with more feminine orientation will produce more “feminine managers”. In business world, these two types of organizations will behave in completely different manners, and will take different approaches in solving management problems, and especially when managing people.

Hofstede define masculinity and femininity in national cultures as “Masculinity stands for a society in which social gender roles are clearly distinct: Men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on material success; women are supposed to be more modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life….. Femininity stands for a society in which social gender roles overlap: Both men and women are supposed to be modest, tender, and concerned with the quality of life.”( Hofstede (2001), Culture’s Consequences, 2nd ed)

Remember, that masculinity and femininity has very little direct correlation with the genders represented by these two words. When we say “masculine managers” it’s not “male managers” but “manlike managers” whereas when we say “feminine managers” it’s not about “female managers” but “womanlike managers”. According to Hofstede, both men and women wish to be more “masculine” than what they really are.

Task Orientation and Social Orientation in Management

We can use Hofstede’s idea of Masculinity and Femininity in managers to describe the task orientation and the social orientation of managers.

Based on the view that men are more assertive and result oriented, we can think of masculine managers in Hofstede’s definition as more “task oriented”. On the other hand we can think about feminine managers as more “social oriented” because women are more relationship oriented, nurturing and caring!

To apply these principles in an organizational environment, think of a “task oriented manager” as someone who is highly assertive and result oriented, and very persistent on other people to “get the things done” somehow. In contrast, “socially oriented managers” will always focus more on maintaining good relationships with their subordinates and colleagues. They will rarely point a negative comment about a work done by a subordinate or a colleague, directly to the face of that person.

Further elaborating the two approaches to management, we can see a task oriented manager as some one who is more objective in what he’s doing, and a socially oriented manager as someone more bounded by subjectivity (Relationships involve subjectivity). A task oriented manager sees a difference between the “actual work” and the “worker” (Objectivity), and he/she more interested in get the “wok” done somehow. Whereas, a socially oriented manager will see “work” as an integral part of the “worker” (Subjectivity), so he/she is worried about, if pushed for the work to get done quicker, it will hurt the social relationship he/she is having with the worker.

Recommended Reading:
Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind

Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations

Where in the World Do I Belong?? Which country's culture fits your Myers Briggs personality type?
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Top 10 Creativity Killers

Brainstorming is one of those English words, which is excessively being misused by most of us. Many of us think brainstorming is synonymous with “discussing” or “meeting”.
In most cases, when some one says, “let’s have a brainstorm session on this”, 90% of the time, what he/she really means is, “let’s meet and discuss about this”.

A discussion is a two way process, where we evaluate both arguments and counter arguments on the discussion topic. But, brainstorming is necessarily one way! When brainstorming, you have to switch off all the counter arguments. You see only one way out. That’s forward. No reverse gears!

Here is my list of top 10 creativity killer counter arguments you can expect, in these so-called brainstorming sessions. These are not in a particular order, and they are not specific for any industry.

1) It is not our policy to do it like that.

2) We have already invested a lot in some other projects. Any new idea should comply with them.

3) We tried it several times, but it didn’t work.

4) It’s not practical!

5) It will take a long time for us to implement that.

6) It’s too complicated. Customers won’t understand it.

7) It’s too simple. Can’t you think of something else?

8) We’ve been doing it this way for a long time, and we haven’t had a problem so far.

9) That requires major changes in our systems & procedures!

10) Ok. That’s a good idea. But, can’t we think of something better?

Have I missed anything? Do you have anything to add to this?

Saturday, February 2, 2008
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

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