One of the lesser-known capabilities of modern mind mapping software is the brainstorming mode. It enables you to capture, organize and evaluate ideas quickly and efficiently. It can also serve as a powerful catalyst to jump-start your thinking and help you generate better solutions.
Here are some frequently-asked questions about the brainstorming mode of mind mapping software and insights into how you can benefit from it.
What is brainstorming mode and what is it useful for?
It enables users to quickly generate and record ideas. There are two primary methods used by software developers to enable streamlined brainstorming:
1. A specialized brainstorming view, which enables you to quickly add ideas in a free-form way. This frees you from having to think about where each idea belongs within your mind map, and enables you to focus more completely on idea generation. It is usually a simplified view, which helps you focus better on your ideas, without the visual distractions of toolbars, property panels and other interface elements. At the end of your brainstorming session, you can return to the program’s normal operating mode and can arrange them in ways thy make the most sense to you.
Programs that offer this type of brainstorming mode: ConceptDraw MINDMAP, iMindMap, MindMapper and iMindMap.
2. Guided brainstorming process: This method uses sets of questions and other stimuli to help spur your thinking in fresh, creative directions. These “idea catalysts” leverage your brain’s power of association to help you brainstorm more effectively – almost as if a skilled facilitator was sitting across the table from you, asking you questions designed to get you thinking.
These guided brainstorming views may focus purely on ideation, or may also include tools to help you with problem definition and idea evaluation – other steps in the brainstorming process. They may also give you access to map templates designed to help you use specific brainstorming techniques, such as 5W’s & H, SCAMPER and PEST.
Programs that offer this type of brainstorming mode: MindManager and MindGenius.
Why do some programs include a timer in their brainstorming mode?
In addition to simplified data entry, the brainstorming mode of these programs may include a countdown timer, which enables you to set a time limit on your brainstorming session. Creativity experts say this usually results in higher-quality ideas than open-ended ideation sessions
Can these brainstorming tools help me evaluate ideas?
Some of them include tools to help you organize and evaluate your ideas. But even if they don’t, you can still do this quite easily on your own. Simply group ideas on branches by priority or add icons to them to indicate their relative importance. You can even develop a weighting system based on different criteria and list their values in subtopics.
Where can I use the brainstorming mode?
It’s equally useful in solo and group brainstorming sessions. In the latter, of course, you have more smart brains in the room, which is always a good thing. In a group brainstorming session, you can use a screen to display your mind map at the front of the room. As meeting participants see their ideas added on-screen, it tends to create an energy and a momentum that gets everyone more engaged and contributing more and better ideas.
Business uses of the brainstorming mode include:
- Solving a business problem
- Brainstorming new product or service ideas
- Brainstorming content ideas
- Formulating ideas for a business plan
- Generating creative concepts for a client
- Product naming
- Keyword brainstorming for SEO
Anywhere you need to generate ideas in your business
The bottom line
I’ve been using, evaluating and writing about idea-generation and capture tools for many years. That makes me a big fan of the brainstorming mode of today’s mind mapping software. I know that many people don’t feel naturally creative – especially in a work setting, where they’re facing a fire hose of e-mails, meetings and information. The brainstorming mode helps you to get into a creative frame of mind and generate ideas on demand. More importantly, it forces you to think laterally, beyond your well-rutted paths of thinking and into new perspectives and insights.
Ideas are more important than ever to drive business growth and improve efficiency. Why not invest in a tool that can help you to generate and capture ideas in a visual format that makes you more likely to evaluate and implement them?
Images are screenshots from iMindMap 8 (main image), MindManager 15 (brainstorming cards) and ConceptDraw MINDMAP (timer).