GOAL is an international humanitarian agency, dedicated to ensuring those living in severe poverty have access to the essential needs and rights in life. They are a non-denominational, non-governmental and non-political organization. In this article, Vicki Aken, the agency’s Country Director for Syria, discusses how Mind Mapping has become essential for coordinating all of the operations for the many issues that the agency handle.
“In Syria, our work focuses on delivering food to more than 250,000 people per month; restoring water systems that provide clean water to more than 350,000 people, rebuilding markets through livelihood and cash and voucher programming, repairing shelters, and providing emergency distributions to people newly displaced by the conflict.”
Eric Berg, the President and Chief Executive Officer of non-profit capacity building organization, LINGOs, first introduced Vicki Mind Mapping many years ago while she was working with them. Now, in her work with GOAL, the software, iMindMap, has become an integral part of her day-to-day work, especially when it comes to the organization of each department’s weekly responsibilities.
“Given how large and complex our programme is, it is challenging to stay on top of all the issues. Each week, I create a Mind Map for all the key management functions: security, compliance, HR, finance, logistics, external coordination, government relations, and HQ issues. Each has a branch with a child branch for key outstanding tasks, with a red flag for any due during the week. I have similar maps for programmes and grants.”
One of the benefits of using a Mind Map is that they consolidate a large amount of information and give a bird’s eye view of the content, which saves Vicki and her colleagues valuable time.
“The other main use is to provide a visual snapshot of our Issues Log. Each time the Internal Auditor, HQ Finance, HC Compliance, or HQ Logistics visits a country programme, they put their findings into the Issues Log. We are expected to close the issues, which can number in the hundreds. The Issues Log is a massive Excel spreadsheet, which is heavy on details and not so great for senior management that just need a quick overview.
I have created a Mind Map of the massive spreadsheet and at a glance I can tell which departments have the most issues and which have the most critical issues (which are identified as red branches). I have notes on each of the issues that indicate the last action taken on each. Each week, my Compliance Coordinator updates the Mind Map and I can quickly see the progress we are making and which department we should concentrate efforts on in the coming week. We recently presented this as a tool at our Global Finance Conference.
“I can tell at a glance where to focus my efforts for the week rather than wading through the 1000+ emails I get every week or spending hours staring at an Excel sheet with hundreds of rows and a few dozen columns. I don’t have to spend so much time sifting.”
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