Tools to support creativity

Creativity can be haphazard; there are tools you can use to organise your creative thoughts.

Tools to support creativity

Twelve months ago, I started having a conversation with colleagues about putting on a sporting event. The conversation fluttered about for most of the year, occasionally gaining energy but constantly changing focus on what was important. I had to speak to many people about priorities and who would be involved.

Now considering I have had nothing to do with professional sports, I ended speaking to quite a variety of people on what issues they felt were important, and who would have a voice at the table. An absolute mess of notes whose connections kept changing.

Because I am a tech at heart, I wanted a tool that would help me manage this evolving conversation without becoming a chore. Then the thought hit me. Years ago I had been introduced to mind mapping, and found it fascinating but effectively useless to me (I was an accountant at the time), however it struck me that this could be the tool I was looking for.

On a search for mind mapping tools (Google is my friend) I came across a product called Free Mind. Free Mind was a full-featured piece of Mind Mapping software that runs on Windows, Linux and Macs.

Free Mind also had one other thing going for it that was seductive to me — it was free! That’s right, free; and not free for 30 days, or free but full of ads, but absolutely free.

It was created by a team of people interacting via a kind of techno’s social network called Source Forge. Source Forge is a place were software engineers get together in teams and write software to work as they feel it should, and licence it for free use. Currently there are more than 140,000 software projects going on there that are generally known as “open source”.

Anyway, back to Free Mind. The software installed without hitch on my Windows XP notebook. It was incredibly easy to master (I just wanted to insert new thoughts and move things around) and would allow me to export my mind maps as a pretty picture (JPG or PDFs) or in a table of contents look to a web page.

Result -> My creativity is supported and I am a happy camper.



Brendan Lewis is the founder of two IT service firms, Edion and Verve IT, and executive director of the Churchill Club.


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