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Great ideas don’t just come around every day. Your team needs a space where they can be creative and discuss possibilities in a way that fuels innovation. In other words, your team needs brainstorming—and as you’ll see, there are plenty of techniques to choose from.
Although it’s certainly not the only way to achieve productive collaboration, teams of all shapes and sizes use brainstorming to accomplish great things, from launching new projects to solving long-term, difficult problems. You can use brainstorming to analyze, create, inspire, and more.
No matter what your team looks like or what you do, there’s a brainstorming technique that you can use to bring a breath of fresh air to your work. This is just your introduction to some of the most common techniques, but there’s a whole world of brainstorming that you can explore.
Check out the section that’s most relevant to your team’s needs:
When you jump into brainstorming, there are a few things you should do to help your session reach its full potential.
This person will be responsible for leading the brainstorming session and guiding the conversation. Their most important responsibilities are keeping the group on topic and ensuring everyone gets an equal chance to share their ideas.
Every brainstorming session should have a goal. Are you solving a problem, analyzing a concept, generating new ideas, or doing something else entirely? Whatever your goal is, having a clear one prevents the distraction that’s likely to arise from the flow of conversation.
Brainstorming works best when people can build off the ideas of others, so make sure to visually capture ideas as they’re shared for everyone to see and be inspired by. In person, you can use a whiteboard to record and display ideas, but how can you be visual when your team is brainstorming virtually? Online collaboration tools like Gliffy are the perfect alternative.
Since being visual is important to effective brainstorming, many brainstorming techniques are centered around visual frameworks that help you record and organize your thoughts.
Here are a few of the tried-and-true brainstorming techniques that teams across industries use to generate and discuss exciting ideas.
Mind mapping helps you illustrate and connect your ideas as they come. You might think of it as the ultimate brainstorming tool for this reason. It’s quick, easy, and visual.
Whether it’s on paper, a whiteboard, or online, mind maps are the perfect way to create an organized record of your brainstorm session as it’s happening.
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If you have a team that’s always asking questions, starbursting is the perfect technique for you. This technique is all about asking questions — specifically questions that start with who, what, when, where, why, or how.
Product teams often use this method to analyze every angle of a new project, but it can be useful for teams of any kind that are starting new projects, from marketing to finance and everything in between.
If your team is dealing with a problem that just doesn’t seem to go away, the 5 Whys is the brainstorming technique you’ll want to use. It helps you identify the root cause of an issue so you can take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
This technique is applicable to any type of team, because regardless of function or industry, every team has problems that need to be solved.
Concept mapping is one of the broadest and most versatile brainstorming techniques. It’s about connecting ideas to visualize relationships, and it’s useful for documentation as well as for forming new ideas.
There are several different types of concept maps you can create, and the best fit depends on which ideas and relationships you’re discussing.
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Product and UX teams use brainstorming techniques like empathy mapping and story mapping to gain a better understanding of their users.
Although both are meant to help teams engage in user-centric design, these techniques are very different. Empathy mapping helps you think more like your users so you can understand their needs, and story mapping helps you use that understanding to form user stories that can be translated into product features and capabilities.
These techniques are both visual and interactive, so you can get the whole team involved.
Learn more about empathy mapping and view template
Learn more about story mapping and view template
Leadership teams of businesses large and small use analytical brainstorming techniques to evaluate the state of their organization and plan for the future.
One of the most important analytical techniques for businesses is SWOT analysis. It’s a key business exercise that helps you gain a holistic view of where your business stands by identifying internal and external positives and negatives.
As a business leader, this is an exercise you’ll likely revisit many times, and use your findings as a foundation for other goals, plans, and analysis exercises.
Learn more about SWOT analysis
How to do a SWOT Analysis
Another important brainstorming technique for business development and strategic planning is gap analysis.
The goal of this exercise is to compare the current state of an organization with an ideal future state in order to identify gaps, then determine what actions can be taken to close them.
Gliffy is a great alternative to a whiteboard when your team can’t be together in person. It’s intuitive and quick to learn, so you can diagram at the speed of your ideas and keep the conversation moving. Plus, you’ll be able to easily share and reference that visual in the future.
When you use Gliffy for your brainstorming sessions, here are just a few of the benefits you’ll be able to enjoy:
To see for yourself how Gliffy helps teams create and collaborate, you can try it free in Confluence or online for your next brainstorming session.
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