13 Productive Brainstorming Techniques for All Teams

Updated on: 06 December 2022 | 9 min read

There are times even the typical brainstorming techniques with your team would hit a roadblock. Coming up with fresh new ideas isn’t always so easy.

That’s when you should try something new. Maybe go about brainstorming techniques in a whole new way.

We’ve got 13 effective brainstorming techniques you can use to quickly brainstorm and generate ideas through drawing, writing, and diagramming with your team productively.

13 Brainstorming Techniques to Generate Better Ideas Faster

Brainstorming techniques are structured methods used to generate creative and innovative ideas effectively. These techniques help individuals or teams think more broadly and collaboratively. Here are some common brainstorming techniques every team can use:

1. Brainwriting

Brainwriting is a collaborative idea-generation technique that is based on written contributions instead of spoken ones. In a brainwriting session, a group of participants is given a specific topic or problem to address. Instead of verbally sharing ideas, each participant writes down their thoughts on the given topic within a set time frame.

Afterward, they pass their written ideas to the person next to them, who then builds upon those ideas or offers new ones. This process continues for several rounds, letting all participants contribute to and expand upon multiple ideas. The collected ideas are later discussed and evaluated, potentially leading to innovative solutions or insights.

Brainwriting is effective because it encourages diverse participation, minimizes domination by a few individuals, and generates a rich pool of ideas. It can be used in both physical and virtual settings, making it a versatile tool.

Simple Brainwriting Template

2. 5 Whys Analysis

The 5 whys analysis is a problem-solving technique used to brainstorm the root causes of an issue by repeatedly asking “why” until the underlying cause is revealed. It’s a structured approach that helps teams dig deeper into a problem’s layers to understand not just the symptoms but the fundamental reasons behind them.

By continuously probing for deeper insights with each “why” question, teams can find the true origin of a problem and develop effective solutions to address it. This method encourages critical thinking and a holistic understanding of complex issues, making it a valuable tool for process improvement and troubleshooting in various industries and contexts.

Simple 5 Whys Analysis Template

3. Starbursting

Starbursting is a brainstorming technique used to generate comprehensive ideas about a specific topic, question, or concept. It involves creating a star-like diagram with the central question or topic at the center and spokes radiating outward, each representing a specific aspect or dimension of the topic. Participants then brainstorm questions related to each aspect, effectively “bursting” out from the central theme.

The purpose of starbursting is to explore a topic from multiple angles, consider various perspectives, and make sure that all relevant aspects are thoroughly examined. It gets participants to think critically, ask probing questions, and generate an array of ideas. Starbursting is often used in problem-solving, idea generation, and decision-making processes.

Simple Starbursting Template

4. Mind mapping

A mind map is a creative and versatile tool for visually representing ideas or information. It begins with a central idea, theme, or topic placed at the core of the map. From this central point, lines or branches extend outward in various directions. These branches represent related subtopics, concepts, or thoughts associated with the central idea.

It’s a graphic tool that helps individuals organize, explore, and communicate complex thoughts and their interconnections. Mind maps encourage nonlinear thinking and provide a structured way to depict relationships between ideas, making them valuable for brainstorming, planning, and understanding complex subjects.

Simple Mind mapping Template

5. Affinity Diagram

An affinity diagram is a collaborative method for organizing a multitude of ideas, information, or data into meaningful categories or themes. This technique is particularly useful when faced with complex problems or diverse sets of information.

It involves a group of individuals who contribute their ideas or data, which are then visually grouped around common themes or connections. This process results in a clear, organized diagram that provides insights, reveals patterns, and helps with decision-making by structuring and categorizing the collected information. Affinity diagrams foster collaboration, enable better problem-solving, and offer a structured approach to handling complex data or ideas.

Simple Affinity Diagram Template

6. Rolestorming

Rolestorming is a creative problem-solving technique that encourages participants to step into different roles or personas to brainstorm new ideas and perspectives. Unlike traditional brainstorming, where participants share ideas from their own viewpoints, rolestorming requires individuals to temporarily adopt a persona or occupation that is related or unrelated to the problem at hand.

By doing so, they can generate fresh ideas and viewpoints that they might not have considered otherwise. This technique leverages creativity and empathy to uncover innovative solutions by looking at the problem through different lenses, ultimately leading to more diverse and inventive ideas.

Simple Rolestorming Template

7. Gap Filling

Gap filling is a problem-solving process that involves brainstorming missing or incomplete information or resources in a particular context or situation and taking steps to address those gaps. It is about recognizing what is needed to bridge the difference between the current state and the desired outcome.

Gap filling can occur in various contexts, such as in project management, education, or even personal development. It often involves a gap analysis of the existing situation, determining what elements are lacking, and then developing strategies or actions to fill those gaps and move closer to achieving a specific goal. It is a proactive approach to problem-solving that aims to optimize a situation by addressing deficiencies or shortcomings.

Simple Gap Filling Template

8. Brain-Netting

Brain-netting is an online brainstorming or collaborative thinking technique facilitated through digital tools and platforms. It allows individuals or teams to collectively generate, share, and develop ideas or solutions in a dematerialized, digital environment.

Brain-netting is particularly useful when physical presence is challenging or impossible due to geographical distances or other constraints. It leverages the convenience and accessibility of online communication and collaboration tools like Creately to facilitate productive brainstorming and group reflection sessions, enabling participants to work together effectively despite being in different locations.

Simple Brain-Netting Template

9. Round Robin Brainstorming

Round robin brainstorming is a structured method for generating ideas within a group setting. In this approach, each participant takes turns offering one idea at a time in a predetermined order. The process typically starts with one person, and then moves clockwise or counterclockwise around the group, with each individual contributing their idea when it’s their turn.

This structured rotation gives everyone an equal opportunity to share their thoughts and prevents a few dominant voices from monopolizing the discussion. Round robin brainstorming encourages participation from all group members, promotes diverse idea generation, and can be an effective way to gather a wide range of ideas on a given topic.

Simple Round Robin Brainstorming Template

10. Rapid Ideation

Rapid ideation is a creative process in which individuals or teams generate a multitude of ideas quickly and without extensive analysis or evaluation. The goal is to encourage free-flowing, unfiltered idea generation.

During rapid ideation, participants focus on quantity over quality, aiming to generate as many ideas as possible within a short period. This approach often involves setting a time limit and encouraging participants to think creatively and spontaneously. Rapid ideation can be a valuable technique for brainstorming, problem-solving, or generating innovative solutions, as it allows for the exploration of a wide range of possibilities and can lead to unique insights.

Simple Rapid Ideation Brainstorming Template

11. Reverse Brainstorming

Reverse brainstorming is a technique used to explore a problem or challenge by intentionally generating ideas that are the opposite or counter to the desired outcome. Instead of seeking solutions, participants in a reverse brainstorming session focus on identifying potential causes or factors that contribute to the problem.

This process involves encouraging participants to think creatively and even humorously about how to worsen the situation. By doing so, the group can gain a deeper understanding of the problem’s root causes and develop insights into what needs to be avoided or corrected to achieve the desired outcome. Reverse brainstorming can serve as a valuable tool for problem analysis and can lead to more effective problem-solving strategies.

Simple Reverse Brainstorming Template

12. Stepladder Brainstorming

Stepladder brainstorming is a structured approach to group idea generation. It encourages all team members to participate actively in the brainstorming process. In this method, a core group of team members starts by discussing the problem at hand. Afterward, one member, referred to as the “stepladder,” leaves the group temporarily and then returns to share their ideas. The key is that this returning member first discusses their ideas with the initial group members before rejoining the larger group. This process continues as additional team members step out, discuss ideas, and return to contribute their insights.

Stepladder brainstorming has several advantages. It ensures that all team members have a chance to participate and prevents one or two dominant voices from steering the discussion. It also encourages diverse thinking as individuals bring fresh perspectives and ideas back to the group. This structured approach can lead to more comprehensive idea generation and a richer exploration of the topic.

Simple Stepladder brainstorming Template

13. SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a tool used to assess a situation or decision by examining its inherent strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It can be applied to various scenarios, such as personal decision-making, project planning, or evaluating a course of action.

Strengths: These are the inherent advantages or positive qualities of the situation being considered. They represent the aspects that are favorable, beneficial, or advantageous.

Weaknesses: These are the internal limitations, shortcomings, or drawbacks of the situation.

Opportunities: Opportunities are external factors or conditions that could be leveraged to benefit the situation. They represent chances for growth, improvement, or positive outcomes.

Threats: Threats are external factors or potential obstacles that may pose challenges or risks to the situation. They are factors to be aware of and mitigate if possible.

A SWOT analysis helps individuals or teams make more informed choices by systematically considering these four dimensions. It encourages critical thinking, thorough examination, and a balanced assessment of the situation at hand.

Simple SWOT analysis Template

What are Your Favorite Brainstorming Techniques?

We’ve listed 13 brainstorming techniques that you can use to boost generating ideas with your team. Each of these brainstorming techniques has its unique characteristics and can be tailored to suit different scenarios and team dynamics. Choosing the right technique depends on the specific goals and constraints of the brainstorming session.

If you have any other brainstorming technique that is your favorite way of coming up with new ideas, do share them with us.

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Amanda Athuraliya Communications Specialist

Amanda Athuraliya is the communication specialist/content writer at Creately, online diagramming and collaboration tool. She is an avid reader, a budding writer and a passionate researcher who loves to write about all kinds of topics.

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