According to an expert on information governance, the growing complexity of corporate innovation, especially if it involves outside partners, is driving the need for better collaboration tools, such as mind mapping software.

According to an expert on information governance, the growing complexity of corporate innovation – especially if it involves outside partners – is driving the need for better collaboration tools, such as mind mapping software.

Jeffrey Ritter, in a recent audio interview with me for my Mind Mapping Software Blog, explains that innovation, like other corporate functions, involves information flows – which need to be governed and managed just like any tangible business asset. As intellectual property and databases get created, corporations must have rules and policies in place to ensure their accuracy and integrity. But this information and the rules that govern it tend to be disjointed.

“Legal, IT, business development, info security, records management, compliance, the business owners, the suppliers, the contractors – that’s just a short list of who has to be around the table today. They all have an interest in having a community of rules for being connected to the organization’s information – rules about how the data is created, how access is controlled, how integrity is maintained, how it’s stored, and when do we actually get rid of the data. All of these constituencies have different sets of rules, but they are the basis of what we use to govern,” he explains.

Most companies have IT systems, databases and other types of IP that were created without any regard to the life cycle of information, Ritter points out. With new regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley and increasing corporate litigation driving the need, businesses today must be able to access information on demand, and be able to verify its integrity and accuracy. “I can’t find the data” – the business equivalent of “the dog ate my homework” – just won’t cut it any more, Ritter warns.

Mind mapping software is one type of tool that enables businesses to assemble and organize and express those rules and policies in a coherent structure. It’s also an efficient platform for collaboration and consensus building – whether all of the key players are sitting around a conference table or in geographically dispersed locations.

What are the benefits of having a coherent picture of the organization’s information rules and policies? Increased velocity and better-informed decisions, two outcomes that have a direct impact on the bottom line – especially as global competition drives businesses to move at a faster pace today.

“When we see people bringing their constituencies, their issues, their parts of the picture together and they can assemble them into a more coherent picture within the room, that’s one area where velocity is improved. But it’s also improved beyond the conference room, where all of the other stakeholders can see the mind map, ratify it and even correct it. Once everyone has an agreed-upon picture, all of the stakeholders can make decisions much faster. And that’s where companies succeed or fail in their ability to create wealth for their shareholders.”

In the context of open innovation, the need for a clear and agreed-upon policy toward intellectual property has been extensively written about. But what hasn’t been clear to me, until I spoke with Ritter, as that the underlying IT architecture and systems must aso be tightly aligned to support the organization’s innovation efforts. In other words, companies must have their internal systems and policies in order before they begin to open up external information flows with partners and suppliers.

Please visit the Mind Mapping Software Blog to listen to my two-part interview with Jeffrey Ritter:

By Chuck Frey

About the author

Chuck Frey Senior Editor, founded and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.