For a number of years, mind mapping software has been available to help businesspeople record and organize their ideas. But one area that this type of software hasn't really addressed is helping users to come up with new ideas. Until now.
theRealizer is a new MindManager add-in from Swedish developer Realize AB that solves this problem very elegantly. It installs a side panel into MindManager 6 that walks you through a step-by-step process for defining your challenge, generating ideas and prioritizing them.
During the challenge definition stage, theRealizer creates a new visual map with three subtopics: challenge, idea and prioritize. You can then select from a list of existing challenges, or create one of your own.
During the brainstorming step, the side panel not only displays a dialog box for adding ideas to your map, but you can also click on an icon to display "idea impulse" cards that contain statements or questions that will get your mind thinking in fresh, new directions (see the image, above right).
During the "prioritize" stage, theRealizer creates a pop-up window that enables you to plot your ideas on a four-quadrant grid, with the X-axis representing realism (how practical is this idea?) and the Y-axis representing the degree of the idea's creativity. You can also automatically add branches to your map to help you sort your ideas.
I downloaded and installed this add-in, which is currently free (I would guess that the developer will begin charging for it in the near future), and was very impressed with how the developers have implemented the side panel. It is used with great flexibility to provide instructions, a place for you to input ideas and as a tool to automatically add helpful branches and segments to your visual map.
Kudos to Realize AB on an important new creativity tool for Windows users. If you're a MindManager user, you've gotta see this add-in. It's quite good!