WWD Interview: MindJet CEO, Scott Raskin

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Scott RaskinToday sees the release of MindJet Catalyst, the latest edition of MindJet’s mind mapping software. A few days ago, I had the chance to talk to MindJet’s CEO, Scott Raskin, about the new release, his perspective on mind mapping software and where the company is headed.

Imran: It’s almost a year since we covered MindManager, what can you tell us about the newly released Mindjet Catalyst — what’s new and what’s the migration path for existing users?

Raskin: Mindjet Catalyst is the most exciting announcement that we’ve made as a company, combining powerful applications for online document sharing, web conferencing and project management with our award-winning application for visual collaboration. Mindjet Catalyst takes the concept of a team brainstorming on a whiteboard and brings it into the digital realm, meshing the best of creative, in-person meetings with online collaboration capabilities, ultimately enhancing creativity, innovation and problem-solving.  All current Mindjet Connect customers will be upgraded to the Mindjet Catalyst platform at no extra cost.


Imran: Are there any mind mapping theories, methodologies or best-practices upon which Mindjet bases its products?

Raskin: We believe that in today’s business world, several factors are making it imperative that organizations of all sizes re-evaluate how they encourage and manage collaboration. Innovation and creative problem-solving are key to every enterprise, large or small, and we believe innovation depends on unleashing the collective creativity and ingenuity of employees, partners and business ecosystems. Gary Hamel noted that companies intent on generating sustained wealth must create a dynamic, open internal market for ideas within an organization.

Our products are based on a strong belief in the power of visually linking and layering information to build relationships between knowledge and insights from every member of a team (be they images, lists, notes, data, charts or documents) and by locating — virtually — every piece of pertinent information for any given project, all in one place.

Imran: What can you tell us about the broader marketplace, where it’s headed and why we’re seeing product after product entering this space?

Raskin: Well, it’s interesting when you mention the “broader marketplace.” If you can say anything about collaboration right now, it’s certainly a “broad” sector. People are lumping everything into “collaboration” these days — whether it’s web conferencing, virtual workspaces, wikis, enterprise social networking, microblogging, you name it. If it facilitates communication among groups, people are calling it collaboration. This is where we differ with most people. My argument is that these tools are not collaboration tools — they’re really just communication tools on steroids. I can meet with people in a web conference, or post items to a wiki, but we’re really just continuing to push information back and forth and not engaging in activities that lead to true innovation.

People are overloaded with information and companies must innovate. That’s why companies are rushing in to try to meet this need. But unless people have a platform that enables them to dialogue and brainstorm with others in a visual manner, create strategic and actionable plans and then execute on them, they’re not going to address the innovation problem. We think we offer significant value that no one else who makes a “collaboration” product today offers.

Is mind mapping as critical as a word processor or spreadsheet? Should iWork, Google Apps, OpenOffice or Microsoft Office integrate mind mapping?

Raskin: Absolutely. A customer of ours who is a former VP at WebEx says that he tells all of his teams that Mindjet is the “only tool that is never optional.” Will the word processor or spreadsheet ever go away? Certainly not — they fulfill specific needs for specific purposes. But imagine having a central, visually-oriented dashboard that enables you and all of the teams you work with to collaborate in real time, manage multiple documents and spreadsheets related to any project, and track your progress from start to finish to success. If you’re in sales, imagine a tool that creates instant trust with your potential customers by mapping out for them in real-time that you understand their critical needs and can visualize for them a path to meeting those needs. Some have called what we do the “indispensable fifth productivity app” after documents, spreadsheets, presentations and email. Adding mapping to your current suite of tools makes those tools work exponentially more productively for you.

What’s next for the company after the move to Catalyst?

Scott: We have a lot coming out in the next few months and even over the next year that we’re very excited about:

  • Our currently available Mindjet for iPhone app, and also the upcoming release of MindManager 8 for Mac on October 20th.
  • For Mindjet Catalyst, we’re on schedule to go out with a new release every 45 days.
  • Our readiness for several of the exciting new capabilities that will be coming for MindManager in Windows 7, including touchscreen compatibility.
  • We’ll have more news about purpose-built solutions that integrate with existing infrastructures.
  • We’re working on enhancements for working with maps in social media outlets.

MindJet has kindly offered WebWorkerDaily readers a year’s free subscription (worth around $1,500) to the first 25 people who contact the company at gigaom@mindjet.com.

How do you see mind mapping tools evolving in the future?

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