If you’ve worked in an office that promotes teamwork and collaboration for any length of time, then you already know the benefits of brainstorming. But if you’re new to working in a group and you haven’t yet done a brainstorming session, you might be curious what the benefits actually are.
- Richer ideas are produced when people with diverse skillsets and experiences come together
- Relatively low-cost method of producing results
- Invests team members in ideas since everyone plays a part
- Energizes work environment
- Ultimately produces better products and services
Now that you know why brainstorming matters, let’s get down to the practical matters like what kind of brainstorming tools you can use to make the session more effective.
- Whiteboard wall: the single-best way to encourage in-person collaboration through mind-mapping, list building, and team exercises. This can also be used in conjunction with flipcharts for important notes and ideas that you want to save indefinitely.
- Idea boards: these can be used in conjunction with a whiteboard wall or as a standalone board located in a central space for easy viewing. Team members can post ideas all at once or as ideas come to them using notecards, colored paper, sticky notes, and pictures taken from magazines or online sources.
- Mandala charts: a system that is similar to mind mapping but tries to keep each category focused on relating to the whole. Start with a central concept that you are working on in the middle box and additional boxes are added as each person makes a contribution. This can be done on a wall or blank space and be added to over time.
- Index cards: a low-tech/high-impact tool that has been relegated to the backseat in the digital age. However, the connections that the mind makes while performing an analog task will spur new ideas. Index cards can then be transferred onto idea boards and used in further sessions as concepts begin to connect and take shape.
- SpiderScribe: for those of you looking to incorporate technology into your brainstorming. Spider Scribe is an online mind mapping tool that allows users to organize ideas using clips from your computer or the Internet. You can even collaborate with others.
- Popplet: workers everywhere can use this online tool to organize ideas and brainstorm alone or in a group, using multiple devices.
- GroupMap: a unique online tool that allows individuals to come up with ideas on their own first, then reveals the group perspective in real time. This solves the problem of team members who are either reluctant to speak up, and the problem of team members who dominate the conversation.
- LucidChart: a tool that helps you capture ideas during a brainstorming session and organize them into a flowchart or diagram. It starts with flowchart templates that you can turn around and customize to your needs.
- Mindmeister: geared towards those who work with creative ideas, this tool helps users collaborate with brainstorming, project planning, and note taking. You can work together in real time and even make changes via live chat.
- Bubbl.us: a web-based mind mapping tool that works well on both desktop and mobile, with no need to download or install an app.
- CoMapping: software that helps you manage and share information. You can use it to take notes, or to make plans and organize ideas.
- iMindMap: a unique tool that’s used by teams and individuals to brainstorm, as well as capture and sort your ideas. It allows users to customize with freehand, style and text options, and it even allows you to create presentations from your projects.
Whether you prefer software downloads or web-based programs, there is a brainstorming tool for every customer and company.
But here’s the thing to remember: incorporating the use of non-digital tools such as a whiteboard wall can help your team collaborate and generate ideas in ways that tech-based tools simply can’t.
The connections that team members develop with the material—and more importantly with one another—while gathered in the same space thinking up the next big idea can never be replaced.