Chances are if you haven’t been formally brainstorming with your team you’ve been applying it almost daily anyways. Brainstorming exercises can range from very informal to extremely structured, and one of the ways you can improve your brainstorming sessions is through mind mapping. Brainstorming with mind maps is extremely effective, but only if you apply it correctly.
In this article, we will define brainstorming broadly, talk about the goals of brainstorming, and proceed to demonstrate how you can brainstorm with mind maps.
What is Brainstorming?
Brainstorming is an exercise that can be conducted individually or with a team where you use different strategies to create a wide array of ideas. These ideas could be about a solution, different problems, or just items that you want to communicate. Brainstorming sessions always have a purpose, and the ideas you create will ideally link together to form the solutions that your team is looking for.
Brainstorming is an exercise that can be conducted at any time but is most commonly found at the start of a project. This means that your tasks are to expand on an idea, find the defined boundaries of your sprint, or locate different problems or solutions for your team to implement or fix.
Common brainstorming strategies that teams use include a SWOT matrix, brainwriting, or round-robin ideation. One of the reasons these strategies are so helpful is because they effectively tap into the creative potential of a group of people and enable collaborative thinking for your team.
Collaborative thinking is just one example of how brainstorming is important for teams, and now we’ll talk about some of the big goals of brainstorming sessions.
What Are the Goals of Brainstorming?
Regardless of what brainstorming strategies you might use, most people conduct collaboration sessions for similar reasons. Here are some of the big goals and advantages of brainstorming.
Finds Innovative Solutions
Arguably the most applicable reason people brainstorm is to innovate new solutions. This could apply to many different problems, but overall innovation and finding new solutions is one of the key goals of brainstorming. This is because often it takes a group of people to find new solutions that might not have been previously addressed, and having this group dynamic helps increase the efficiency of the team.
Encourages Creative Thinking
One of the reasons brainstorming is so helpful is because it encourages your team to think creatively and about things they might not see otherwise. This is why, quite often, brainstorming exercises are paired with templates or structures to organize your thoughts.
Having a structure allows you to understand the context of the sessions and gives you a framework to both think within and purposefully think outside of.
Streamlines Problem Solving
Similar to innovating new solutions, brainstorming is incredibly helpful for problem-solving and helps streamline the process. Collaboration with your team allows you to ideate faster than you would individually and helps create effective solutions for the problem at hand.
Helps Team Building
The majority of the time, brainstorming is inherently a team process. This means that your team is collaborating and interacting while you brainstorm, so the more you conduct ideation activities, the better your team will understand one another.
Opens Up Multiple Perspectives
One of the brilliant parts of collaboration is its ability to open people’s minds to alternative perspectives. When your team is all proposing new solutions and someone brings up something completely different, everyone has to try to come to an understanding of that idea.
This integration of perspective and unique ideas means brainstorming will always produce better, more holistic results.
Why Are Mind Maps Perfect for Brainstorming?
Along with other popular brainstorming exercises, mind maps are very good at facilitating positive brainstorming. The structure they offer and collaborative nature make them naturally built to promote the benefits of collaboration. Here are some of the reasons mind maps are perfect for brainstorming.
Effectively Create Linking Relationships
One of the principal advantages of mind mapping is they are inherently built around an interlinking nodal structure. This means that every element is linked either to another element or to the central idea. This helps people string information together in new ways that help reveal relationships that they might not have seen otherwise.
Brainstorming without structure can often cause a lot of confusion around what ideas relate to each other and how your team organizes your session. Mind maps are able to eliminate this confusion and provide your team with a structure that accomplishes multiple goals of brainstorming, including creating innovative solutions and problem-solving.
Mimics the Human Brain
Mind maps are helpful for many exercises outside of brainstorming, and they’re widely applicable because they mimic the way the human brain learns.
The nodal structure of mind maps is no coincidence, it actually represents the way the human brain retains information and organizes it in your memory. This means that mind maps allow your team to brainstorm with much greater efficiency while retaining the important takeaways from your meetings at a higher rate.
Encourage Non-Linear Thinking
Brainstorming is all about thinking outside of the box and ideating solutions that might not be initially present. This is a tremendous example of how mind maps are helpful for ideation because they encourage trains of thought that branch off in different directions.
By organizing your session in an intuitive, interconnected format, mind maps emphasize the importance of creating relationships within your collaboration session and diagramming ideas all the way through.
Accesible to Everyone
One of the things that brainstorming sessions can lack is context. Especially when ideas are created and subsequently forgotten, or someone shows up to the board at a later time to synthesize the takeaways, it can be difficult to pick up on the context of the board.
Mind maps solve this issue completely and create a very intuitive structure that is incredibly easy to use. This means that every element will be linked to the main idea in one way or another, so there will always be a chain of relationships that you can follow to understand how it’s related.
Additionally, this intuitive structure means mind maps are more accessible than some other online templates.
A difficulty some teams have with brainstorming is having everyone operate with the same level of knowledge about the exercise being conducted. Mind maps only need a simple explanation, and from there, anyone can make edits and contribute to the board effectively. This usability opens the scope of what’s possible within a collaboration session.
Since mind maps are built to help the brain organize ideas and create relationships more effectively, using them to brainstorm means you can create and organize ideas more effectively than ever. This ability can be bolstered by using color, symbols, or other personal design elements to distinguish different ideas and branches so you can add more context to your mind map.
Brainstorming exercises are conducted every single day, and whether your team is conducting them formally or informally, you can always use mind maps to improve them. If you want to learn more about mind mapping and how online whiteboards can help facilitate your collaboration exercises, make sure you check out Fresco.