Looking for creative brainstorming techniques?
We can’t rely only on those magic rituals considered adequate for some of us in our daily work. There must be specific tools you can use anytime you feel stuck or need help knowing where to begin. And they do exist.
Let’s dive into brainstorming techniques!
What is Brainstorming?
Initially, the word brainstorming was introduced by Alex F. Osborn in 1953 through his book Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Thinking. According to Osborn, “Brainstorm means using the brain to storm a creative problem and to do so “in commando fashion, each stormer audaciously attacking the same objective.”
Nowadays, you can find as many definitions of brainstorming as many people use in their work, but its meaning doesn’t differ much from the permutation of words and their synonyms. Brainstorming is about finding new creative solutions for solving problems and generating ideas based on previous experience and knowledge.
Though Alex F. Osborn used to work in an advertising agency and generate ideas for brand communications, brainstorming can be and should be used in any area and by any professional who wants to avoid following the beaten path.
12 Brainstorming techniques to foster creativity
Picking just one Brainstorming tool alone won’t make you productive and creative in churning out ideas — it’s a whole bunch of creative techniques, among which you can choose those that work right for you. Let’s dig into each of them.
Visual Brainstorming techniques
The peculiarity of these techniques follows from their name — they use all the possible visual tools, such as diagrams, images, and drawings, to help generate ideas and solve problems.
Visual brainstorming stimulates creativity and encourages the free flow of ideas by tapping into the power of visual thinking.
1. Mind mapping
Do you remember detective movies with walls with pictures of criminal suspects, victims, witnesses, locations, and many other visual things connected with lines and captures? Well, this is an illustrative example of mind mapping.
Within this technique, you put down all the images, drawings, keywords, and branches related to your brainstorming subject and then create connections between them.
Having every detail in front of your eyes gives you a vision of the whole picture, helps organize thoughts, and identifies patterns and relationships between pieces of ideas.
When first hearing about storyboarding, you may have different perceptions of it as something related mainly to the movie production sphere. Yes, but no.
As well as mind mapping, storyboarding visually represents a sequence of events, such as a project timeline, a user journey, or a story.
Storyboarding is a perfect tool for visualizing complex and multi-stage processes and seeing the gaps and dependencies at each stage. Thus, you can ensure that all necessary steps are accounted for and that nothing is lost.
Who knows, maybe, in the future, your storyboarding will turn into a movie about your brilliant idea and life-changing solution.
This technique won’t help you create new ideas, but it suits perfectly for the crash test of the one you came up with — whether it has potential and how it can develop further.
Starbursting got its name from the way the questions “burst out” from the central point in 6 directions:
You get a six-point star where your idea is the central point and the subject of evaluation. By answering each question, you get more meat on the bone: who is your target audience, what are their pains, when they decide to look for solutions, etc.?
Analytical Brainstorming techniques
The analytical technique requires analytical and critical thinking skills to generate creative and innovative ideas. When you need to analyze your problem thoroughly or qualify solutions you already have, use one of these tools:
1. SWOT analysis
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This tool helps identify each of these parameters in terms of your project discovering its problems and ways of finding solutions.
SWOT analysis is such a widespread and universal technique that you can implement it in any domain, whether marketing, economics, finance, or whatever, to analyze a specific situation or the whole environment.
|Internal factors||External factors|
Things that give you an advantage over your competitors, such as a strong brand, skilled employees, innovative products, etc.
Anything that will put you in a stronger competitive position: new market trends, untapped customer segments, emerging technologies, etc.
Everything that puts you at a disadvantage: limited resources, poor management, lack of technological capabilities, etc.
These are the potentially threatening things that can cause you problems or have a negative impact: increased competition, economic downturns, changes in regulations, etc.
2. Why analysis
The “Why” question must be one of the most crucial because it makes you question everything and don’t take it on faith. “Why” drives your critical thinking and inspires you to dive deeper until you reach the point.
As an effective brainstorming technique, it allows you to evaluate your idea’s strength or find the problem’s hidden root causes of the pain.
It would be best to ask yourself a “why” question about the subject of your brainstorming at least 5 times — each time, you will discover new challenges you have to overcome and result in the solution improvement.
3. How Now Wow
Imagine you have a pool of ideas you’ve generated individually or with your fantastic team. You’re already in love with these concepts — of course, you’ve spent so much time and energy. But here comes the moment you must evaluate them for their innovation and implementation — the How Now Wow brainstorming technique is just right. It allows you to categorize ideas within 3 groups and look at them soberly.
“How” stands for ideas that can be innovative and with a wow effect but cannot be implemented in any possible way.
“Now” — easily implemented ideas but way too simple. These ordinary ideas will definitely work but won’t be remembered or hardly even noticed.
“Wow” — these are the ideas! They are bold & innovative and may be challenging to implement but possible. Such solutions will have a high impact.
This simple yet effective technique teaches you to cold-bloodedly let go of ideas of the first and second order to dig to the most original ones.
Async Brainstorming techniques
This group of techniques is suitable for group brainstorming whose participants are mostly introverts and like to work at their own pace without real-time communication. Moreover, they can contribute ideas on their own time and often anonymously.
Async brainstorming techniques can be a good option for remote teams using digital tools and platforms instead of traditional face-to-face methods and free them from the constraints of scheduling conflicts or time zone differences. Here are some common async techniques:
1. Brainwriting, a.k.a. slip writing
If you prefer doing instead of talking, you will surely like this technique. It’s a nonverbal and in-person method that requires each person to write down three ideas individually and then pass them along to the next person for review and building.
This process continues until each person expresses their ideas and consideration to them. Then comes the moment of discussion and ideas filtering. You can also choose a brainstorming moderator so he can hold the process and decide what’s worth further developing or not.
2. Collaborative brainwriting
Another asynchronous technique involves a group of participants working together to generate ideas through a written medium — a cloud-based document or any suitable digital platform.
Each participant writes down their ideas anonymously, and other team members can build on them and expand the group’s collective creativity. It is better to set a deadline while using this brainstorming technique to gain the most effect.
The result will be a comprehensive list of potential solutions or creative approaches. Collaborative brainwriting can effectively generate many ideas quickly and allows participants to build on the strengths of others’ contributions.
3. Online brainstorming
It is one more excellent technique for remote teams, within which participants utilize digital tools and technology to facilitate idea generation and collaboration among team members who are located remotely.
Online brainstorming usually involves using a digital platform such as a web-based whiteboard, an online document editor, or a dedicated brainstorming tool to create a virtual space where team members can contribute their ideas and insights. Participants can join the session in real-time or contribute ideas asynchronously over time.
With Nifty, you can brainstorm ideas with your remote or virtual team using Miro. Using our native integration, you can brainstorm ideas without having the hassle of managing multiple people, their invites, and their access management:
It’s a common situation when you’ve no idea where to start your brainstorming — you need something to push back. SCAMPER technique offers specific leading questions that can come to your aid!
This tool is used to stimulate creative thinking and generate new ideas with the help of questions to examine a product or idea from different angles:
- Substitute: What would happen if you substitute some or all the elements of your idea?
- Combine: What new could you create by combining some pieces of your idea with others?
- Adapt: How could you adapt your idea to a different situation or purpose?
- Modify: What elements of the idea could be modified or changed?
- Put to another use: What are other ways you could use your idea? It could be for a different purpose.
- Eliminate: What could you remove or eliminate?
- Reverse/Rearrange: What would happen if the idea’s order, sequence, or process is reversed or rearranged?
Group Brainstorm techniques
Not that all the previous techniques can’t be used for brainstorming in groups, but these particular ones work best within a team. You can significantly expand the number of ideas in a group setting, and quality is born from quantity.
Creating a safe and comfortable space for the members to share and build upon each other’s ideas to develop unique and innovative solutions to problems is vital. There is no place for judgment and hierarchy — only creativity and fun.
Group brainstorming techniques can help generate dozens of fantastic ideas and work as a team building — bringing everyone together around a common goal and discovering their full potential.
1. Eidetic image method
Firstly, “eidetic” refers to the ability to see an image or scene with great detail and accuracy, even after the object or scene is no longer present.
As a brainstorming technique, the eidetic method encourages you to create a vivid mental image of a problem or challenge and then use that image as a starting point for generating creative solutions.
Let’s imagine we’re in a brainstorming session and thinking about the packaging of our new product. The facilitator asks everyone to close their eyes and imagine its details, colors, shape, textures, and anything that comes to mind.
Once everyone has a clear mental image of the packaging, group members will discuss each and use it as a starting point for generating creative ideas and solutions.
2. Round-robin brainstorming
In this technique, each participant in the brainstorming takes a turn to offer an idea or suggestion, and the process continues until everyone has had a chance to share their thoughts on the topic.
After one has contributed, all the others give feedback, and only after that can you move to a second idea. The necessary condition of this process is non-judgemental behavior inside the group — no one should interrupt or criticize others during the brainstorming process.
The core goal of the round-robin brainstorming technique is to generate as many ideas as possible, so all opinions should be welcomed.
How to Brainstorm: Ground rules
Though brainstorming is an entirely creative process, it requires rules and order so that everything does not turn into chaos.
Here are some standard ground rules for a brainstorming process:
1. No judgment
First and foremost — forget about self-judgment and judgment in general. Avoid criticizing or evaluating ideas. All ideas should be voiced and heard — they are all worth consideration and discussion.
2. Encourage bold ideas
At brainstorming, you should generate as many ideas as possible. From this quantity, you will get quality — brilliant ideas that will lead to innovative solutions that may not have been considered otherwise.
3. Build on the ideas of others
Brainstorming isn’t a competition — the idea is to create something outstanding together. That’s why try not to focus only on your own ideas but build upon and expand the concepts of other participants.
4. Stick to the topic
You can easily get caught up in some thought or discussion and deviate from the topic of brainstorming. It’s a tricky path; otherwise, you can generate ideas irrelevant to the challenge. So stay focused and effective.
5. Equal conditions for all
During the brainstorming, you should discard all the titles and hierarchies to avoid domination and create a safe space for everyone to share their ideas. The facilitator should ensure that each participant has an equal chance to contribute.
6. Set a time limit
Brainstorming sessions can quickly get off track or drag on, so it’s essential to set a time limit for the process. This limit can help keep participants focused and motivated and ensure that the process moves along efficiently.
Brainstorming Tools: Your helping hand
Brainstorming tools are applications designed to facilitate idea generation and collaboration in a digital or virtual environment. These tools provide a range of features to help teams brainstorm and organize ideas in real-time, whether working in the same room or remotely. =
Here are a few examples of brainstorming tools:
1. Nifty + Miro
Nifty is a project management and team collaboration software that can help teams to work together effectively, even when they’re not in the exact physical location. Miro is a visual collaboration tool for teams.
Nifty+ Miro is a powerful in-house combination of two powerful tools in one place. With our Nifty+Miro integration in the product, you can create mindmaps and graphs and brainstorm ideas right in Nifty:
Miro’s visual format is ideal for brainstorming because it allows users to visually organize their ideas, making it easier to see connections and patterns between ideas. While having it included inside each project of Nifty reduces the clutter of managing multiple boards, and multiple people access as the boards are directly shared with all individuals who are part of the said project.
It allows users to create mind maps and visual representations of ideas and their relationships. Mind maps can be used for various brainstorming activities, including generating ideas, organizing thoughts, and creating project outlines.
MindMeister allows multiple people to collaborate on a mind map in real-time, making it an excellent tool for group brainstorming sessions. Each participant can contribute their ideas to the mind map, and the tool’s collaboration features enable participants to see each other’s contributions in real-time.
This tool also provides a range of features that make it easy to add and organize ideas within the mind map, such as adding notes, images, and hyperlinks. The tool also enables users to easily rearrange and reorganize thoughts as needed, which can help to create a more coherent and structured mind map.
Like other mind-mapping tools, WiseMapping is designed to help users visualize and organize ideas in a non-linear and interactive way.
One of the main benefits of WiseMapping as a brainstorming tool is its ease of use. The interface is clean and intuitive, making it easy for users to create and edit mind maps quickly. The tool offers a range of features for adding and organizing ideas within the mind map, such as adding notes, images, and hyperlinks, as well as dragging and dropping nodes to rearrange the map’s structure.
WiseMapping also provides a range of export options, allowing users to download their mind maps in various formats such as PDF, PNG, and XML. It makes it easy to share the maps with others or to import them into other tools for further development.
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project in real-time, allowing them to share ideas and feedback as they work. Users can also add comments and annotations to specific project parts, making giving and receiving feedback easy.
Another helpful feature of Conceptboard is its range of visual collaboration tools. It makes it easy to create complex diagrams and other visual aids to support brainstorming and collaboration. Users can create and edit visual elements such as text, shapes, and images and can also use a range of drawing and annotation tools to highlight and emphasize specific points.
Conceptboard also provides a range of export options, allowing users to download their projects in various formats, such as PDF and PNG. This makes it easy to share projects with others or to import them into other tools for further development.
Milanote is a web-based tool that can be used as a brainstorming tool, particularly for visual brainstorming. The tool is designed to help users organize and visualize ideas flexibly and intuitively.
One of the critical features of Milanote as a brainstorming tool is its visual interface. Users can create boards to represent different projects or ideas and then add and organize notes, images, links, and other types of content within those boards. The tool allows users to create connections between different messages or content, which can help to identify patterns and relationships between ideas.
Milanote also provides a range of templates, which can help organize ideas and kickstart the brainstorming process. These templates include options for creating mood boards, user personas, storyboards, and more.
You can find more brainstorming tools here.
Let’s sum it up!
Brainstorming techniques can significantly foster creativity and generate innovative ideas. The variety of these techniques allows you to experiment with different tools — implement what works best for you or even combine something and create your own style. Whatever works for you — it works!
By utilizing effective brainstorming techniques, individuals and teams can enhance their creative thinking skills and generate innovative ideas that can drive success and growth.
Best luck with your boldest ideas! Sign up for free, and start online brainstorming using Nifty with Miro.