X1/MSN Search MindManager & Lotus Notes?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005
I'm still waiting for X1 to add MindManager search capability to their product. I've been testing their Lotus Notes Support for many weeks. The Notes support is OK, but not quite ready for prime time, IMHO. And, they have yet to implement the list of fixes and required features that I sent them.

I've pitched the idea of adding MindManager support to execs at both companies. The folks at MindManager have indicated that they are willing to play. I hope that the folks at X1 decide to play, too; I think MindManager support in X1 would be a powerful addition to their product.

For now, X1's still on my "must watch, but wait and see" list.

Meanwhile, the new Desktop search toolbar from Microsoft apparently allows plug-ins. And, there's a plugin for Mindmanager!  (ComputerWorld | add-in)

A while back, I blogged about how my ideal desktop search tool would include support for both MindManager and Lotus Notes. I wonder if we'll see a MSN Search toolbar add-in filter for Lotus Notes?

If they did, I might switch gto MSN. My clients might, too.

Wishful thinking?

Notes client for Linux?

Monday, May 16th, 2005
Earlier this year, Robert Peake (a client and colleague of mine at The David Allen Company) shared his thoughts on a Notes Client for Linux.

I particularly liked his idea of a diskless workstation, booting Knoppix and a Notes client.
Imagine hundreds of diskless Linux workstations booting into the equivalent of Linux Terminal Server or Knoppix for Domino. In fact, many different types of workers could handle all of their day-to-day tasks in this environment with substantial savings not only on the overhead of operating system licenses, but everything that goes with a complex user environment -- like viruses, malware, and (worst of all) the myriad of operator errors that go with giving users too much latitude.
Back in the early 90's the entire ICA network on diskless workstations, booting DOS and Win 3.1 across ArcNet. The workstations in the offices as well as those at my home (up the street, connected via WaveLan) were all diskless.

Worked great! I could upgrade the entire network in a manner of minutes. Of course, our reasons at the time weren't security or convenience as much as it was the high cost of disk storage. Once we got used to how applications behaved in a diskless environment, it worked quite well.

Robert's makes a good point. I'd like to see it happen.

Methodology + Technology = Productivity. That was the title of yesterday's blog article. The response, both publicly and privately, has been very interesting, so I've decided to take this discussion to a more public format.

Over on the GTD forum, I asked the question, "Do you distinguish between the technology and methodology of productivity?"  

I hope you will participate in my poll  on the GTD Forum of the David Allen Company web site. You can see the results in real-time.

In the coming weeks, I'll share my own experiences on the tech side of the productivity equation.

Here are the questions in the poll:
  • I'm clear about the difference. I use each where appropriate in a balanced way
  • I understand the difference, but I tend to focus more on the technology
  • I understand the difference, but I tend to focus more on the methodology
  • I routinely confuse the two, alternately focusing on one or the other to an extreme
  • Other

Which statement is true about you?

It’s easy to buy the latest and greatest in technology, but that does not guarantee a boost in productivity. Without a method for its effective use, the potential benefit of a new technology will be limited. Technology might even get in the way.

It's important to distinguish the difference between your method of getting things done and the technology  that you use to support your work.  These separate elements must work together in order to be productive.

This weekend, David Allen blogged about things that get in the way of productivity. Last night, he asked his seatmate on the plane what got in the way of his productivity:
... I asked him what he thought was the main thing that got in the way of his productivity. He didn't have to think very long before he said, "organizational processes." Too many forms, too many boxes on the forms, too many rules and regulations for filling out the forms.
This comment reminded me of a conversation David and I had over 10 years ago. At the time, I was using a custom Notes-based action management system, patterned after a system I had designed for the Navy. As I had learned about new methodologies of project/action management, I simply "built" what I had learned into my system. This was great, but it added a measure of complexity to my system. I remember I once showed some new features to David. He smiled; I think he even said something like "check back with me in two months from now and let me know if you are still using it."

Two months later, I wasn't using my own system … at least not fully.

You see, my system had gotten in the way of my process. Rather than allowing my system to be just a support tool, It had morphed into a do-all system with lots of features, including the proverbial "kitchen sink." While it allowed me to do many things well, it did not always make it easier to do them.

Many years ago, I scrapped all of my systems and started over. I decided to separate the methodology from the technology. That was a good move. The result was my eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes. Now, my system complements the way that I work. I even incorporated a key concept of the GTD methodology: organizing actions by context. This small change had a tremendous impact for me. I've been using this template ever since, and I’ve provided the template to several clients who are using it to manage their actions and projects with excellent results.

Make no mistake. The system does not do the work – it’s only a tool. I still have to "work" my system ... and some days I do this better than others.

As I consult with clients about how they use technology, I make sure that they clearly understand the difference between the methodology and technology they use to do their work. If I don't believe they have a sound methodology for managing their actions and projects, I give them a copy of David's first book, Getting Things Done. (I always keep a few of these books and tapes on hand for this purpose.) While I can deploy the latest and greatest in technology, I know that without a method for its effective use, its potential benefit will be limited.

When I work with my clients, I usually create an ICA flow diagram of their work. The ICA approach considers three aspects of the workplace: Information, Communications, and Actions, and the diagram allows us to see what they do and how they do it. Once we are clear on the workflow, I show my clients various technologies that they can use to support them in their work.

More than once a client has remarked, “if only I had the system you use [i.e. Lotus Notes, eProductivity Template, a Palm, whatever.] then I would be more productive.” Not true. As I explained earlier, without a sound methodology, the benefits of technology are limited. Begin with the methodology first. If a client does not have a clear grasp of this important concept and a well-defined way of thinking about their work, I refer them back to Getting Things Done.

Methodology + Technology = Productivity

I've continued to refine my systems over the years; I suppose I always will. Now, however, I’m careful when adding new “features.”  I don't want technology to interfere with my work. If, after a few weeks, I find that I’m not using a new feature, I remove it.

Remind yourself that while your systems should support you in your work, they should not restrict or otherwise limit it.

Do you make a clear distinction between the methodology and the technology that you use? If so, I'd like to hear about it.