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Mindjet User Spotlight: Mike Ferrara

Name: Mike Ferrara
Title: Director of SharePoint Platform Services, Hyperion Global Partners
Started using Mindjet: 2010
Social links: LinkedIn, Twitter,

How did you hear about Mindjet?

A few of my colleagues had been using it for some time, and they recommended checking it out for solving complex problems. Prior to that I certainly knew about mind mapping in general, but I had never truly tried to apply it to my practice. I certainly felt like I was living in the dark ages after I really delved into it.

What do you primarily use it for?

Although there are many use cases that I could talk about, there is one in particular that I want to mention here. One of my core competencies as a consultant is architecting document and content management systems on various platforms. Before I get all boring and talk to the stakeholders about technology and features, I try to tackle the actual business side of things first. Specifically, this is the discussion around creating a corporate taxonomy and the ramifications of implementing it long term.

This many times turns into an epic struggle between management and users over how to utilize and apply metadata to content. There’s an endless amount of opinions on how to construct a proper taxonomy, and this is especially true for firms that have never formally written one. Typically the soapboxes come out and everyone tries to make their respective cases. In other words, chaos ensues. In comparison, herds of cats are actually easier to corral than making sense of these discussions.

This is where Mindjet makes my life so much easier. It takes the fluff out of the conversation, so everyone can focus and get on with the meat of the matter at hand. And since taxonomies have to be documented anyway, I’m already getting a head start on conceptualizing how things will shape up as the building process occurs.

What is your favorite feature? 

There are so many great features, but I really like the brainstorming feature when used in conjunction with problem solving. It’s like a quasi-workflow for creating an environment for solving a problem within the product itself. And you can set it up on the fly or create a template ahead of time prior to beginning a session.

Is there anything the tool helps with that was unexpected? 

The most unexpected result in my experience has been the high level of interaction when users are engaged with a tool like this. It takes rather dull conversation and turns it into a much more pleasurable experience. In the same way that it caused me to think differently about solving problems, it no doubt does the same for people participating in the problem-solving process when seeing this tool for the first time. I’m sure they’re scanning their brain for ways to use this in their own attempts to solve complex problems.

Tell us about the map below.

This is a simplistic adaptation of the typical map that I would create during a client design session. In this example I’m working with the users on creating and visualizing their firm’s corporate taxonomy. Since I primarily operate in the legal industry, this map illustrates a typical starting point for creating a taxonomy at a law firm. A real taxonomy of content metadata will look a lot more complex than this one, so mapping it out makes a huge difference when trying to sort through it all for clarity.

[Click for full size image]

Mike Ferrara is Director of SharePoint Platform Services at Hyperion Global Partners, a leading business and technology consulting practice to the legal profession. He has over 12 years of experience with information systems integration, and he specializes in SharePoint Products and Technologies. Mike is actively involved in the SharePoint community, and he is an editor for, a respected source for SharePoint 3rd party product information. He also authors technical and business-focused SharePoint articles for


Here at Mindjet, we know the value of sharing ideas. It’s just like philosopher Michel de Montaigne said way back in the 1500s: “It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.” The Mindjet User Spotlight series aims to help that little endeavor along by bringing your stories and experiences with Mindjet to the forefront. If you’ve got one to share, don’t be shy! Give us a shout.

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