Top 6 brainstorming techniques for teams
Love it or hate it, brainstorming has cemented itself as the go-to strategy for problem solving in business.
But, it does have some drawbacks. For example, traditional brainstorming techniques (people seated around a whiteboard calling out ideas) simply doesn’t fit into the current remote work model. Secondly, it can be problematic when more dominant voices take over the session, leaving some people feeling unheard. Plus, brainstorming sessions without any structure can quickly veer off-topic.
In this article we discuss the many brainstorming techniques that are inclusive, easy to organize and generate a large volume of ideas in a short amount of time.
How an online whiteboard can be used for remote brainstorming
Using an online whiteboard with digital sticky notes like Conceptboard is the easiest way to solve the first problem. The collaborative space brings everyone on the same page, whether you’re co-located or remote. And best of all, all your ideas are saved on the infinite canvas forever. Meaning no more blurry photos sent around as attachments.
Over the years, innovative leaders have tried many variations of traditional brainstorming techniques to improve the overall brainstorming process. So let’s take a look at our top five alternative brainstorming strategies and the pros and cons of each.
Don’t forget, you can add any of these templates to your board from within our template library in the app.
We like to think of brainwriting as the introvert’s version of brainstorming. This innovative technique allows everyone to contribute equally and all ideas to be given equal weight. Instead of verbal brainstorming, everything is done silently, a big improvement on multiple people speaking on conference calls. Firstly, give everyone access to a blank board and five minutes to write down three ideas. Secondly, all the boards are swapped and passed onto someone else, who can continue to explore those existing ideas, or add their own.
Pros: Everyone can contribute equally. All ideas are on paper. Non-threatening for introverts.
Cons: The final output may produce more quantity with little quality. May have duplicate ideas.
How Might We
The How Might We template invites teams to think about creative ways to solve problems. The framework welcomes all ideas without judgement, rather than jumping straight into finding one solution. Moveover, it places value on teamwork by focusing on how might WE as team solve this. So, if your team struggles when it comes to innovating, it might be time to introduce How Might We as the prompt for your brainstorming session.
Pros: Positive as it suggests there is a solution. Emphasises teamwork.
Cons: It’s success depends on coming up with the right problem statement. Hard to get initially.
Named after it’s blossoming grid system, a lotus diagram is a simple brainstorming technique for idea generation based around one central topic. This initial central topic blossoms out to generate eight new ideas. From there, each of these ideas can again blossom out into 16 more ideas, creating at least 24 potential solutions.
This method of mind mapping can help you push your thinking in new directions that you wouldn’t have previously considered.
Pros: You can stay on topic. You really extend your thinking
Cons: It can be hard to keep momentum.
Affinity Diagrams have gained a lot of momentum within the design thinking realm. They fit into the second stage of brainstorming. So, once you’ve generated all your ideas, you can begin moving them into categories on an Affinity Diagram. Importantly, this can help you find common affinities within the ideas and understand which topics to pursue.
Pros: Allows for individual thinking. Works with large groups.
Cons: Less bouncing ideas off each other. It can take time.
Mind Maps for brainstorming
Mind Maps are a great way to organize information, connect related ideas, and help capture the flow of ideas during a brainstorming session. Importantly, visualizing ideas and concepts on a Mind Map template allows you to showcase your thoughts in an organic, yet easy to follow manner by linking connected ideas. Much like the way the mind works!
Pros: Ideas are organized in a related way. Line connectors make it easy to create a Mind Map online.
Cons: Highly structured.
Round-robin brainstorming is the perfect group brainstorming technique to get the whole team involved and avoid groupthink. Traditionally the whole team would sit around a (round) table and take turns to come up with their own ideas. The round-robin brainstorming begins with a central question or key problem the team needs to solve. Ideas are then built on iteratively.
In today’s world of distributed teams it might be difficult to get the whole team together physically. Which is why our collaborative template is a great alternative to the traditional round-robin method.
Pros– Egalitarian. Everyone’s ideas have an equal opportunity to be heard.
Cons– Unlike the brainwriting technique, it is not anonymous. The participant is aware who the previous contributor is.