4 Creative Brainstorming Tools that Will Inspire Your Team

Generating new, creative ideas isn’t easy. In fact, it’s hard work. And, if you’re under a time crunch, finding the perfect solution to a problem can be daunting. That’s where brainstorming tools can help.

Coined in 1938, brainstorming was a concept first described by an advertising executive named Alex Osborn. Unhappy with the way business meetings stifled creativity, he came up with a new way to collaborate and called it “to think up”.

Since Alex Osborn’s time, we’ve come to know “to think up” as brainstorming, which can either be held as a meeting with a group of individuals, or done alone, and its purpose is to generate ideas to solve a problem.

This method of idea generation is so popular that most of us have participated in a brainstorming session at some point in our careers. And, for good reasons. Brainstorming activities are easy to implement, they are fun for participants and they lead to great ideas in a short amount of time. Plus, brainstorming sessions strengthen teams and foster open communication.

If you’ve ever participated in a brainstorming session, you’ll know that a team leader or manager opens the discussion by providing the problem’s background, stating any goals that need to be reached and criteria that must be followed. Once participants are filled in on the most important details, they are allotted a few moments to think and write out their solutions to solve the problem.

What happens next should be a vibrant discussion, full of innovative ideas, sometimes wild and sometimes wacky. However, with numerous people in the room and everyone bubbling with thoughts and opinions, there is a chance for things to go awry.

Quieter voices could be drowned out by eager, louder ones. Or it could be that everyone in the room is anxious and unwilling to share his ideas for fear they’ll be rejected. While brainstorming sessions are great tools to get an entire team involved in a project, they could be alienating.

But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. There are things you could do to ensure sessions are productive. With the right brainstorming tools, you will not only mitigate any potential problems, but you will also guarantee a chance for everyone to contribute.

Keep reading and we’ll show you four brainstorming tools to turn stuffy meetings into engaging events that will empower your team and generate brilliant ideas.

Reverse Brainstorming

If your team is over-worked, uninspired, or frustrated at the prospect of having to discuss the same issue for the tenth time, try reverse brainstorming.

Rather than asking the same tired question and getting similar responses from your staff, reverse brainstorming allows you to tackle the problem by analyzing it in reverse.

For example, if you’re planning an event and want to provide a memorable experience, instead of asking “How do we make event attendees happy?” rephrase your question to ask, “How do we make event attendees angry?”

Without having to think too deeply, your staff will start listing ‘reverse solutions’ like “forcing attendees to wait a long time at registration”, or “running out of food”, or “losing their coats.” Once you’ve compiled a long list, the way to the solution is to think in reverse again.

So, the solution to “forcing attendees to wait a long time at registration” would be “staff the registration desk with several greeters to minimize wait times.”

This type of brainstorming tool offers your staff a different way to analyze problems. Sometimes all it takes is a refreshing perspective to further a solution, bring everyone in on the discussion, and generate innovative ideas.

Mood Boards

The majority of humans are visual learners, 65 percent, in fact. And it all comes down to the way our brains analyze information. Compared to text, the human brain processes an image 60,000x faster than text.

Which means that the trick to igniting a firestorm of creativity from your staff, may just reside in a visual brainstorming tool: the mood board.

Grab a whiteboard and have your team source all the pictures, phrases, and textures they can find relating to a topic. Once everything is placed on the board, you will have created a canvas that’s emotionally relevant and visually stimulating.

Looking at pictures allow people to feel an emotion or imagine an experience faster than reading a series of words. Using visuals to trigger an emotional response will provide a more engaging brainstorming experience for your staff. And, the more people are engaged the better they retain information.

For more creative brainstorming tools, check out this list from MindTools.

Word Games

Do you have a new team? Or, are you searching for a high-energy activity to jumpstart a brainstorming session? If you answered yes then try a brainstorming game.

An easy one to try is a word game. Simply write down a random word then have your staff brainstorm a series of related words and phrases. Get them thinking about verbs and nouns associated with it, its antonyms, synonyms, how it’s used in a sentence, and it’s function.

Once you’ve written out all of your staff’s ideas, cluster them into groups according to their relationship to each other. The end result is to find a unique phrase or an association for that word.

If this sounds like an exciting brainstorming activity, try playing it with Catchbox. Toss the throwable mic around the room and collect the first words, ideas, and phrases that come to mind. This playful, colorful mic will not only amplify the fun it will spark a slew of innovative word associations.

Mind mapping

If you have a large project break it down into bite-sized pieces with mind mapping. A useful brainstorming technique, mind mapping visually demonstrates how a project’s components fit together.

To begin, start with a central idea or theme, then draw lines out from the circle and label them with headings that represent categories and important facts. As you uncover more information, draw new lines from the appropriate headings and label them accordingly.

To incorporate the rest of your team, try mind mapping with Catchbox. A high-energy alternative, Catchbox will bring your staff together by thinking about the project components in a fun, exciting way.

In Conclusion

Brainstorming tools are great ways to tackle problems. And, with the right brainstorming techniques you will create a fun, relaxed environment that will inspire your colleagues to come up with fantastic out-of-the-box solutions.

Do you use brainstorming tools? If so, tell us about effective brainstorming examples in the comments. And, if you found this information helpful, share the post on Facebook and Twitter.

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