Part 3 of iMindMap in Motion
The Children in Distress Network (CINDI) has been in existence for around 12 years, located in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. KwaZulu-Natal has the highest prevalence of HIV and AIDS, and is rife with unemployment and poverty. CINDI works with about 300 non-profit organisations in the area; from emerging grassroots, community-based organisations, to larger NGOs. All have the common goal of wanting to help children, who are infected by, or affected by HIV and AIDS.
CINDI provides coordination and collaboration between these different organisations. It helps them to share information, work together, avoid duplication and improve their organisational capabilities.
I have been in contact with Neill Stevenson, a programme manager at CINDI, since we donated licenses to the organisation last year. I spoke with him recently and he provided some great feedback on how they’ve been using iMindMap to facilitate an entire strategic planning process in the network.
The project that Neill works on is funded by a large international donor. It includes a consortium of 4 fairly large non-profit organisations who are working together in a partnership and providing a comprehensive package of services to 13,000 orphans and vulnerable children in the area. It’s a big project, with lots of funding, a big staff and a lot of collaboration and coordination that needs to take place. Neill has been using iMindMap to facilitate a process of strategic planning and change on the project.
“We review and revise our strategic plan every couple of years and this was the first time we tried using Mind Mapping. We had to do a very thorough process of consulting various internal and external stakeholders, capturing their information and putting it all together into different components of the strategic plan.”
Read on for the 5 stages of their strategic planning process…
“I was able to use the iMindMap software to capture the different thinking of people in the various consultations as we gathered information and brainstormed ideas. We worked with a laptop and a projector, so that as people were sharing their ideas, I was able to get it all into a Mind Map and project it onto the screen. Everyone could see the thinking evolving as I drew links between branches, and shifted priorities by moving branches around.”
“Previously, we have just used flipcharts, which is fine as far as it goes – but it’s not dynamic. But with iMindMap, whilst we were talking, we were immediately able to cluster ideas together, priortise them, and create new themes. It was a much more engaging and fruitful process. Then at the end of it we had a document that everybody has consensus on. Rather than going away and creating minutes using the various sheets from the flipchart, and circulating them to everybody to get their feedback, this was all done in one step. ”
“It was more effective and more efficient. We got a better result and everyone was very happy.”
The information then needed to be pulled together and analysed. Different strategic themes had to be identified and the priorities going forward determined.
With the help of the software, CINDI were able to decide that there were two main themes, or areas. The networking and advocacy that had always been the core of what they did, and another area that had emerged as being of new importance.
Far more new members were small, emerging organisations – small groups of people who have come together in the community in order to respond to a particular need, with minimum resources and minimum skills, and very little organisational capacity and structure.
“They register as a non-profit organisation, which is fairly easy to do, but they will have very little chance of actually mobilising further resources, because they don’t have the skills and the structure.”
“We realised we needed to place more emphasis on capacity building and resource mobilisation. We decided we would need to develop a whole new division of the organisation which is devoted to that area.”
“Using the iMindMap software we were able to structure our ideas and present them very effectively as we went through the development stages of this new strategic focus area.”
“We were able to very clearly show how the various components fit together. We developed a modular system where small organisations can receive a small amount of money that could be used to implement their projects and also receive both training and mentoring. The larger organisations would mentor the smaller organisations and we would outsource training on the key areas that organisational sustainability is founded on – things like project management, monitoring and evaluation, basic financial management and human resources. ”
By the time an organisation has gone through the whole programme, not only have they been able to offer services to their beneficiaries, the children, but they have been able to demonstrate that they have the training and capacity necessary and so are able to attract funding in their own right.
4. Project Management
“We used the project management feature of iMindMap to do the basic project plan which we then exported to Microsoft Project. Within iMindMap, it was very easy to set up and get the basic structure in place in a form that everyone could see and everyone could understand and agree on.”
5. Presenting and Approval
The final stage of the process was to present the plan to the various stakeholders and gain their consensus and buy in. When he presented to the Board of Trustees, Neill used iMindMap’s Presentation View.
“Everybody was absolutely delighted by the presentation mode, because we are all used to seeing PowerPoint presentations. That’s fine, but the way iMindMap Presentation View focuses on the particular topic that is being discussed, and then moves onto the next topic in a dramatic motion certainly captured the attention, and held the attention of the boardroom members.
“It had a lot more impact than the traditional, linear, slide show approach. Then of course at the end of it we had the map that the board members could take away with them to refresh their memory in a glance.”
“I don’t know of anything else that can do all of those things. I certainly haven’t found anything that has been nearly as effective. It saved me dozens and dozens of hours of time. Meetings have gone more quickly, produced better results, people have walked away with a better understanding of what’s happening and a higher level of commitment to it because they’ve been a part of the decision making process.”
“iMindMap is so intuitive that it doesn’t take much to get into it. And when you’re into it, you forget how you ever managed without it.”
To find out more about CINDI and the work they do, visit their website: www.cindi.org.za
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