Facilitation | Strategic Planning | Org. Development

Successful planning and organization development typically requires a process that is inclusive, effective, and time-tested by organizations like GroupMind. Who should be involved, and how? What will make our plan a living, dynamic guide? What tools will help us track changes in our environment? These questions can be difficult for managers.

Using the GroupMind collaborative methodology, a process that applies cloud-software tools to common planning processes, I help teams leverage their collective intelligence to define the following:

  • A vision of where we want to be
  • A well-grounded assessment of the environment
  • An understanding of the key values that underpin our decisions
  • A clear mission that explains why we exist
  • Objectives that clearly define what we are going to do
  • Decision support for our intended actions
  • Strategies that anticipate the steps required to make plans a reality
A strategic plan or organizational development document looks to the future while also creating processes that align the people responsible for making the plan succeed. 

The GroupMind collaboration methodology generates results by bringing many voices into the decision making or planning process. The methodology uses cloud-based software tools to leverage collective intelligence, generate buy-in, and build team alignment. The methodology brings forward ideas, prioritizes objectives, and establishes processes that increase chances for success.

Our process depends on collaborative sessions with team members, either together or remotely, to gather data (ideas), make sense of the data, and share conclusions in a way that creates buy-in and participation. The tools include things like “IdeaSet” and “Discussion;” you can try these software tools out by visiting the Live Tool Demo page of the GroupMind web site.

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Speed and agility in the cloud

An organized cloud environment can help you speed things up, get more efficient, and reduce the stress and distraction of “where is it?” Keeping track of your stuff is a big deal. Getting around quickly with lower stress is equally important. Below are a few simple things you can do to help you manage your cloud-based information environment.

Bookmarking. Searching for links or files can be a terrible distraction during a complex process. Whether it’s creative, technical, or business, we need quick links to our various web tools and data. A good, cloud-based bookmarking tool is critical. Step one: cloud-based bookmarks.

Organize your bookmarks in the cloud. Many people that kept very organized hard drives still have sloppy bookmarks. Even worse, many people are still tracking their bookmarks in their local browser, not in the cloud!  ?Consider logging into any of of the big three browsers: Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Firefox. Once logged in, your browser now organizes your cloud bookmarks and you can dedicate the same care and detail you afforded the files on your hard drive. Cloud bookmarks can be downloaded and saved, if needed. There are other options, like Delicious, but try to find one that plugs into your browser’s “bookmark bar.”

Password Tracking. Be sure to use cloud-based password tracking tools. The easiest place to store passwords is directly in the browser; his makes life easy but comes with some security risks. Consider cloud-based password tools like DashLane or Sticky Password for greater security and instant login options.

Document sharing – pick a platform. There’s something to be said for everyone sharing business documents on the same platforms, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Docs. For those last remaining purists who are holding out against these big-company cloud systems, it may be time to hoist the white flag of surrender and leverage the tremendous efficiency and advantages of working with cloud documents over local ones.

Getting to your stuff quickly – 3 Important keyboard tricks and shortcuts. Move through browser tabs more quickly using ALT+TAB keyboard shortcut. Try it now! ALT+TAB on your keyboard. This shortcut shows all of your open applications on the screen, then allows you to TAB through them until you get to the one you want. This reduces mousing around windows and tabs and saves time.

“Tear off” browser tabs and group them. This allows you to use ALT+TAB to tab through open groups of tabs. My browser tab groups usually look like this so I can quickly ALT+TAB to that group:

  • browser 1: email, calendar, pandora
  • browser 2: Client tasks
  • browser 3: Web sites I’m managing
  • browser 4: Stuff I can read or do later

Close some browser windows. “I’ll get back to this later” can often result in a lot of open browser tabs. Close most of them. Tabbing through a lot of browsers can confusing. Keep a handful of job-specific browser windows open (each with several tabs), then you can easily ALT+TAB through a few big project.

Use Search more often. Take the time to set up categories and tags on documents, blog posts, and important links so that you can find content quickly with . You will find it easier and faster than opening folders, and folders, and folders. An important part of good searchability: tag things where possible.

Learn to share. Sharing documents and links is pretty easy these days. Social media tools like Google+ and Google Groups can be good ways of creating libraries, sharing information with only the right people, and managing projects.


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GroupMind Templates

GroupMind Provides you with templates that help you move data from one tool to another so that you can start to work right away. You can always edit these or add a specific tool to an exisiting template. There are pre-set templates for many purposes, for example:

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Productive Meetings using a GroupMind Template

Teams can accomplish amazing things when they plan and create processes that generate real results. A starting place for most plans and processes are meetings; love them or hate them, meetings are one of our primary process tools for reaching our goals.

Productive meetings can be the catalyst for exciting ideas, efficient processes, and tightly-aligned teams. The trick: create a plan and a process for meetings so they can be a vehicle for productivity.

GroupMind is a collaboration methodology and toolset that helps organize and focus meetings with templates. A template is a series of cloud-based software tools that provide a step-by-step methodology for making meetings a powerful tool in the process of planning and execution.

Productive Meeting Template (process)

Meeting Tool #1: Agenda created with Survey Tool

Involve all participants with a survey that creates a better, more engaging agenda

Meeting tool #2: Interactive Presentation

One-way communication can be limiting. The GM SlideShow allows participants to comment in real time as they view the presentation. This level of engagement and feedback helps refine ideas and generate buy-in.

Meeting Tool #3: IdeaSet

Great ideas make great companies. Unfortunately, sharing ideas within a company isn’t always as easy as it may seem. Ideation can be slowed by rank, culture, process, and more. You can get ideas percolating jam begins with by fostering an environment of trust and providing a tool mechanism for people to share and discuss.

Meeting Tool #4: Discussion

Threaded discussions allow everyone to “speak at the same time” and strips away titles. It helps answer the question, “what are people really thinking?”

Meeting Tool #5: Share and track meeting results with GM Utilities

Sharing utilities GroupMail, FlipChart, and Grid, help teams manage and share initiatives in a familiar, cloud-based environment.

This set of tools used in concert will help meetings to become interactive, useful parts of the plan.

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Ideas to Action Template

Ideas are the engine of growth and progress.  But turning good ideas into action isn’t always as easy as it looks. To achieve an idea-driven workplace  where ideas become reality requires a good process and software.

Managers strive for collaborative environments where ideas are encouraged, considered, and put into action. The Ideas to Action Template is designed to manage ideas, build trust and buy-in. The “level playing field” of anonymous Discussions, surveys, and IdeaSets can foster significant gains in sharing, trust, and ideation.

Software – do we really need it? What about a good old-fashioned white board?

Effective ideation processes remove rank and allows everyone, regardless of seniority or title, to contribute to the process. Software is the best way to do this, allowing anonymous, synchronous ideation across all participants.

Software also accelerates the process. When we talk, either in person or in conference calls, only one person can talk at a time. Cloud-based tools allow everyone to contribute simultaneously, generally producing a flood of concepts that are instantly documented.

Collaborative processes can often be broken into steps. The GroupMind methodology is to apply software tools to each step of a given process, helping teams attain results.

Action planning. There are many models of planning and project management that are designed with specific types of projects in mind. From Agile Planning to Backward Goal Setting, there are many approaches to putting ideas into action.

GroupMind Ideas to Action Template
Gather and prioritize issues and set up an action list with owners and due dates using Folder, IdeaSet, CheckVote, Matrix or Grid, and Discussion.
Meeting Tool #1:
Basic organizing tool to hold data that results from an Idea to Action process.

Meeting Tool #2:
The GM IdeaSet tool overcomes ideation barriers with a simple interface that allows everyone to contribute multiple ideas, drop them into buckets.

Meeting Tool #3:
CheckVote is a simple yet effective prioritizing tool that allows participants to distribute checkmarks onto topics. A participant might have ten checks to distribute, use three of them on one topic, two checks on another topic, then one each on topics they deem less important.
Meeting Tool #4:
Once a team has generated and prioritized ideas, the GM Grid can help turn ideas into action. The GM Grid is a simple, flexible project management tool that uses standard project start and stop dates, duration, responsible, links to resources, quick sorts, and more.

Meeting Tool #5:

Discussion tools have become very popular across the internet because they do a good job of mimicking our verbal communications with serial responses to previous comments. Many news websites have discussion sections following their articles where readers can share their opinions.

The GM Discussion Tool serves a similar function, allowing a manager to set up the Discussion with ideas generated by the team. This keeps ideas in front of the team and offers a chance for in-depth review of all aspects of the idea or action plan.

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