Brainstorming Tools

Gumi & Company
9 min readApr 25, 2023

What is Brainstorming?

Brainstorming is a group activity that involves idea generation and knowledge sharing for solving specific problems. Group members are encouraged to think without interruption in order to come up with creative solutions. By pooling their collective knowledge and experience, participants can explore new perspectives and approaches that may not have been considered individually.

Brainstorming can be used in a variety of settings, from business to education and community development.

Whether you’re a team leader looking for new ways to inspire innovation or an individual seeking to expand your creative thinking skills, this article will provide you with valuable insights and practical tips to help you make the most of this powerful technique.

Purpose of Brainstorming

One of the primary benefits of brainstorming is that it allows individuals to break out of their traditional modes of thinking.

By encouraging participants to think outside the box, brainstorming sessions can lead to breakthrough ideas and innovative solutions that would not have been possible otherwise.

This is particularly useful when dealing with complex problems that require creative solutions.

Brainstorming can also be a great way to foster teamwork and collaboration. By working together to generate ideas and solve problems, individuals can develop a stronger sense of camaraderie and trust. This can lead to more productive and efficient teamwork in the future. The concept is especially useful with a diverse team. When people from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together to generate ideas, the resulting discussions can be more creative and innovative.

Brainstorming Tools

Brainstorming tools are tools or techniques used to facilitate the brainstorming process, which is a creative technique used to generate a large number of ideas in a short amount of time. These tools can help individuals and teams to organize their thoughts, encourage collaboration, and generate new ideas.

There are a variety of brainstorming tools available, ranging from analog tools such as post-it notes or whiteboards to digital tools such as mind mapping software or virtual whiteboards. Some tools are designed to facilitate individual brainstorming, while others are more geared toward collaborative brainstorming among groups of people.

Brainstorming tools may be used at various stages of the brainstorming process, from idea generation to idea selection and implementation. For example, idea management software can be used to collect and manage ideas from a large number of people, while mind mapping software can be used to organize and connect related ideas.

Overall, the goal of brainstorming tools is to facilitate the brainstorming process and make it easier for individuals and teams to generate new ideas, think creatively, and solve complex problems.

Examples of Brainstorming Tools

Now that you (hopefully) understand the concept of brainstorming and its importance, let us quickly look at a few effective tools for brainstorming.

Mind mapping

Mind mapping is a visual tool used for organizing and representing information. It involves creating a diagram that links together different concepts, ideas, and information in a non-linear way. The diagram typically starts with a central idea or concept in the center, and then branches out into subtopics, related ideas, and supporting information.

A mind map can be created by hand using pen and paper, or using specialized software. The main benefit of using a mind map is that it allows you to see the relationships between different ideas and information in a clear and visual way.

source: mindmapper.com

How To Use Mind Mapping

  1. Start with a central idea

Write your central idea in the center of a blank page or digital canvas. This could be the problem you need to solve or the goal you hope to achieve.

2. Generate ideas

Write down all the ideas that come to mind related to your central idea. Don’t filter or judge any ideas, just write them down as they come to mind. Use short phrases or keywords.

3. Create branches

Once you have generated a few ideas, start creating branches from your central idea. Each branch should represent a subtopic or category related to your central idea. You can use colors, images or icons to differentiate between different branches.

4. Expand on ideas

Use each branch to expand on the ideas generated in the second step. Add any relevant details, connections, or supporting information to each branch.

5. Make connections

Look for connections between different branches and ideas. Use lines or arrows to show the relationships between different ideas.

6. Review and refine

Once you have completed your mind map, review it and refine it as needed. You can add new ideas, remove irrelevant ones, or reorganize the structure of your mind map.

S.W.O.T Analysis

SWOT analysis is a framework used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organization or a particular situation. The acronym SWOT stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

While this model is commonly used by entrepreneurs and business leaders, it can also be used for the purpose of brainstorming.

source: nexightgroup.com

How To Use S.W.O.T Analysis

  1. Define the objective

Begin by clearly defining the objective of your brainstorming session. This will help you to stay focused on the goal and identify relevant factors.

2. Create a SWOT grid

Draw a grid with four quadrants labeled strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

3. Brainstorm strengths

Start by identifying the strengths of the organization or situation. What advantages does it have? What unique capabilities or resources does it possess?

4. Brainstorm weaknesses

Next, identify the weaknesses or limitations of the organization or situation. What areas need improvement? What obstacles may prevent success?

5. Brainstorm opportunities

Consider external factors that could present opportunities for the organization or situation. What emerging trends or market conditions could be leveraged? What partnerships or collaborations could be pursued?

6. Brainstorm threats

Finally, identify potential threats to the organization or situation. What external factors could pose a risk? What challenges could arise from competitors or changing market conditions?

7. Analyze and prioritize

Once you have completed your brainstorming session, analyze and prioritize the factors identified in each quadrant. This will help you to determine which factors are most important and where to focus your efforts.

8. Develop action plans

Use the SWOT analysis to develop action plans that leverage strengths, address weaknesses, capitalize on opportunities, and mitigate threats.

Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats is a tool for group or individual thinking developed by Edward de Bono. The tool is based on the idea that individuals can improve their decision-making and problem-solving abilities by consciously considering different perspectives and modes of thinking. The Six Thinking Hats framework assigns six different colored “hats” to different modes of thinking, as follows: White Hat, Red Hat, Black Hat, Yellow Hat, Green Hat and Blue Hat.

source: readingraphics.com

How To Use Six Thinking Hats

  1. Define the objective

Firstly define the objective of your brainstorming session in order to stay focused on the goal.

2. Introduce the hats

Explain the Six Thinking Hats framework to your group and assign a color to each mode of thinking.

3. White Hat

Start by using the White Hat to gather information and facts about the situation. Encourage your group to ask questions and identify knowledge gaps.

4. Red Hat

Use the Red Hat to explore emotions, feelings, and personal opinions about the situation. Encourage individuals to express their gut reactions and intuitive feelings.

5. Black Hat

Use the Black Hat to consider potential problems, risks, and negative consequences of the situation. Encourage individuals to think critically and objectively about potential issues.

6. Yellow Hat

Use the Yellow Hat to consider the benefits, opportunities, and positive aspects of the situation. Encourage individuals to think optimistically and constructively.

7. Green Hat

Use the Green Hat to explore creative and innovative ideas. Encourage individuals to think outside the box and generate new possibilities.

8. Blue Hat

Use the Blue Hat to facilitate discussion and decision-making. Encourage individuals to reflect on the overall thinking process and identify next steps.

9. Rotate the hats

Depending on the size of your group, you can either assign hats to individual members or rotate the hats throughout the brainstorming session. This ensures that everyone has the opportunity to explore different modes of thinking.

Reverse Brainstorming

Reverse brainstorming is a technique used to identify potential problems or obstacles associated with a particular idea or situation. The technique involves reversing the typical brainstorming process, with the goal of generating solutions to potential problems instead of generating ideas.

Instead of directly thinking of solutions, participants would identify ways that could potentially cause or exacerbate a problem. The identified ideas are then reversed or flipped to uncover solutions that may not have been previously considered.

source: visual paradigm

How To Use Reverse Brainstorming

  1. Define the objective

Like every brainstorming tool explained, start with defining the objective of the session and do not lose sight of your goal.

2. Identify the problem

Instead of generating ideas, start by identifying potential problems or obstacles associated with the idea or situation. Encourage individuals to think creatively and identify as many potential issues as possible.

3. Reverse the problem

Once potential problems have been identified, reverse the problem statement by turning each identified problem into a question. For example, if the problem is “Customers don’t like our product,” the reverse problem statement could be “How can we make customers love our product?”

4. Brainstorm solutions

With the reversed problem statement, encourage individuals to brainstorm potential solutions to the identified problems. This will help to generate creative and innovative ideas for overcoming obstacles and addressing potential issues.

5. Evaluate and prioritize

Once the solutions have been generated, evaluate and prioritize them based on their feasibility and potential impact. This will help to determine which solutions are most practical and effective.

Choosing the Right Brainstorming Tool

While all brainstorming tools listed here are effective, there are certain things to consider to help you decide which tool is best for your situation.

  1. Consider your group size

The size of your group will impact the selection of your brainstorming tool. Some tools may work better for larger groups, while others may be better suited for smaller teams.

2. Determine the format

Decide whether your brainstorming session will be in-person or virtual. This will help you to select a tool that is compatible with the format of your session.

3. Determine the level of structure

Some brainstorming tools provide a high level of structure, while others are more open-ended. Consider the level of structure needed to achieve your goals.

4. Evaluate the complexity

Some tools are more complex than others. Consider the experience level of your group members and select a tool that is easy to understand and use.

5. Consider the level of creativity

Some tools are designed to generate more creative ideas, while others focus on refining and improving existing concepts. Choose a tool that aligns with the level of creativity needed for your session.

Conclusion

In conclusion, brainstorming tools can be valuable resources for teams and individuals looking to generate ideas, solve problems, and innovate. With a wide range of tools available, it is important to consider the specific needs and goals of your team when selecting a brainstorming tool. Factors such as group size, objective, format, level of structure, complexity, level of creativity, and cost should all be taken into account when choosing the right tool for your brainstorming session. By selecting the right tool, teams can foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation, leading to greater success and growth.

Ultimately, the key to successful brainstorming is being open-minded, embracing new ideas, and encouraging participation from all team members.

References

Brainstorming — Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas (mindtools.com)

Brainstorming | Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning | Northern Illinois University (niu.edu)

Brainstorming Techniques: 15 Creative Activities to Do Solo or as a Team (hubspot.com)

Benefits of Mind Mapping — MindMapper

Using SWOT Analysis to Plan an Uncertain Future and Increase Organizational Effectiveness | News & Insights (nexightgroup.com)

Six Thinking Hats® — Looking at a Decision in Different Ways (mindtools.com)

Book Summary — Six Thinking Hats® by Edward de Bono (readingraphics.com)

Reverse Brainstorming — A Different Approach to Brainstorming (mindtools.com)

What is Reverse Brainstorming? (visual-paradigm.com)

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