Deep Dive: Best Brainstorming & Idea Tools
Organize thoughts and ideas and finally collaborate more efficiently.
Do you sometimes feel stuck?
How often do you get stressed because you can’t decide what to do next? In other words, you need an idea. Then design a strategy and goals to know where you are going as a professional, business owner, or team leader.
No more jumping here and there without moving forward.
Develop big-picture thinking by using idea tools and brainstorming techniques. Get ready and ahead, not lost and behind again.
Affinity diagram (KJ method)
Good ideas are scarce. Yet, teams and innovative people are constantly bouncing between many options. Look here, look there. Start designing this, then jump on another thing. It can be exhausting.
What should you decide? What will help your team or company? Where to develop your services or expand your business? Overwhelming.
If only you knew the best idea, it would make your life much easier. Good news! There are idea tools you can experiment with and put structure to your thoughts. Organize your thoughts = organize your work.
1. Mind mapping
Did you know that the first mind map originates from around 300 AD? It was drawn by the ancient philosopher, Porphyry, and shows the relationship between the material and immaterial things in this world.
In the 1970s, Tony Buzan popularized the mind-mapping you know and use nowadays. A mind map is a great way to organize your thoughts, generate new ideas, and look at topics creatively.
Always determine the main purpose of your map. Your core topic could be:
A problem or an issue you are dealing with
A concept you are trying to describe or learn
A project you’re brainstorming
A solution that is not clear
Mind Map technique:
To create a mind map, the main topic, idea, or theme is in the middle. Put it in the center of a page.
Ideas and associations branch out. You can add relationships between associations. Color ideas based on branch level, or that stick out for you.
The benefit of mind mapping is that it might lead to the formation of new associations and opportunities. Always look at the outside branches. They frequently bring great ideas and solutions to your core theme.
In this case of 'getting the word out,' I can see connecting conferences and collaborations, as well as posting blog entries on LinkedIn.
Mind maps are simple. Yet useful tool for approaching challenges from several perspectives. Use it if you're stuck and in need of new ideas.
Don’t dream about productive conversations and well-structured meetings. Make them happen with idea tools. Turn a team discussion into a fun and efficient occasion. Come up with ideas and questions that will guide your decision-making process.
Engage everyone, not just the loudest people.
Brainwriting is handy for group discussions. It was designed by German marketing expert Bernd Rohrbach in 1969.
Brainstorming meetings are annoying. You spend them quarreling over a few ideas. Then, it often comes down to accepting the one the loudest person pushes through. Since, you want to have it done.
Brainwriting technique is a great way to guide such discussions. What it does is:
Give people time to formulate their ideas and write them down
Circulate more diverse ideas
Give equal opportunity for everyone to participate (even introverted colleagues who don’t like speaking up)
Collect similar ideas in one bucket and see what popular opinions are
Brainwriting sessions are dynamic. They have several timed rounds. They are also collaborative because participants swap papers with ideas and build on them or come up with new ones.
Invite relevant people (it could be your team, a group of leaders, or mixed, etc.)
Have a facilitator who leads a brainwriting session. Explain how much time people will have (e.g., 5 minutes) to write their ideas and respond to other ideas and how many rounds you will do (e.g., 6 rounds for 6 people).
Start round 1. Ask people to write down three ideas within the time. No discussion.
Exchange worksheets (each participant should never get the same worksheet twice). Review the ideas and add to them or add new ideas (again, you have 5 minutes for the round).
Repeat the process to finish all the rounds.
Then, all ideas are shared on a whiteboard or an online board. The group discusses them and decides on the topic of a problem.
Try this exercise if you want to collect ideas while simultaneously engaging relevant people and gaining their support. They are more likely to endorse a solution if they are a part of it.
There are numerous templates available for this exercise that you may download and utilize. As an example:
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