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SOHO Profile | Stephen Feber Ltd.

Consultant \’Mind Maps\’ His Way to $43.5M Contract

By Jacqueline Emigh

Even if you’ve heard of “mind mappers,” you might not be sure just what they are. For his part, though, Stephen Feber is crystal clear in the knowledge that NovaMind Mind Mapping Software helped him win out over 312 competitors to land a contract worth $43.5 million in US dollars.

Known as Heartland, the project at hand is a massive regeneration effort in Cornwall, UK, centering on refurbishment of a dilapidated old tin mine which closed in 1998 and now blights the landscape. The initial proposal called for regeneration of the former mine workings, including display rooms to cover world heritage themes; space for local artists to create and exhibit large sculptural works, flexible spaces to be rented out or used for community events, a retail shop, a parking lot, and bike rentals.

When Feber, an independent consultant, first saw this proposal, he thought about how he and a group of colleagues might create something that would meet and even exceed these requirements by making a large positive impact on the whole community. He turned toNovaMind as a way of gaining a fresh perspective on the complex issues around meeting needs of community members ranging from disadvantaged long-time residents, to students at a nearby college, to a burgeoning artists colony.

\”People are very much trained to just start writing Word documents. The imperative to create a narrative is strong,\” Feber explained in an interview.

Mind mapping software, on the other hand, lets you look at situations differently by \”deconstructing them, analyzing them graphically, reorganizing them and then putting them back together again,\” he said.

Feber and his team initially used NovaMind to break the project requirements down into their component parts. They then chose keywords out of the requirements document, allowing a mind map to graphically represent the relationships between these requirements. The team brainstormed about how the relationships could be extended and made to work more smoothly.

Feber added more information to the mind maps and further refined the mapping process after meeting with both community members and experts in engineering, architecture, planning, and project management, for example.

For environmental purposes, the team designed Heartland to use a combination of ground source heat pumps, wind mills, photo voltaic panels, and a wood chip boiler. Through the use of these components, they reasoned, the project as an entirety will generate electricity which can then be sold to the power grid and used in a local housing development at relatively low pricing.

When it came time to turn in a document to the project’s assessment team, Feber prepared a final mind map, depicting all parts of the project in logical relationship to each other. He then used his college training as a graphics artist to enhance the mind map with outside graphics tools.

Although Feber won the mega-contract two years ago, he continues to work on Heartland, while also juggling about five to seven other projects at a time. As an independent consultant, he has no full-time employees, but he works with as many as 500 hired contractors at a time.

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