Brainstorming Templates, Charts and Worksheets for a More Efficient Brainstorming Session
Brainstorming is a creative process of gathering insights without the pressure of contributing ‘sensible’ ideas. It helps hasten the thought process by allowing the free flow of ideas from the participants regardless of how meaningful, wild, or weird the ideas might seem. It aims to find an out-of-the-box solution or idea through an unfiltered array of options.
This is a highly-interactive process that can get out of control; especially if the person facilitating the session is not experienced or skilled enough to control it. The same is true if the participants are also new to the process. In order to achieve its goals, it is important to have a structured brainstorming session and this can be done by using special techniques and templates.
To read more about different brainstorming techniques, check this article.
- Tips for Brainstorming Templates, Worksheets and Charts Part 1
- 4 Organized Brainstorming Templates: Free Download Part 2
- Additional Sources Part 3
Brainstorming templates help to provide flow and structure to a brainstorming session. In addition to that, some of the benefits of using a brainstorming template are:
- It helps kick-start the brainstorming process. A template will guide the facilitator and the group to begin the session. It helps the facilitator to prepare the participants and get them warmed up for a successful thinking process. The same is true for the participants as the visual aid will help them get their thoughts flowing.
- It also helps to provide consistency throughout the brainstorming process. Certainly, this activity will not only be done only once within a company or during a project. There will be multiple situations or occasions where a team will need to get together for a brainstorming session. By using a template, participants or team members can anticipate what’s going to happen and will come prepared and ready for the ‘storm’ ahead.
- Although brainstorming is structured, most templates offer some flexibility. They can be customized to the preferences or requirements of the team, or depending on the topic or issue to be discussed. It can also be updated based on what is needed at that moment, or if the company or the team has adopted a different brainstorming approach.
- By having a visual representation of what they need to accomplish by the end of the session, the group will have an idea of how much time should be spent on each item and be able to manage their time wisely. Brainstorming sessions can really be long, especially if the participants get too excited, and having a tool to remind them of what they still have to do is a big help to get things done faster.
- It lets the group focus on what is really important. Groups may be side-tracked, at any point, during the session. Using a template will help the brainstorming group to get back on track.
Besides general brainstorming templates, there are also brainstorming charts and brainstorming worksheets:
Brainstorming is a helpful way of creatively coming up with ideas related to a topic or a solution to a problem at hand. However, this creative process can get out of control if there is no structure or direction to the discussion. There are also times when the brainstorming process is not just working, and the team is facing a blank wall.
Brainstorming worksheets are often helpful in these cases. They provide a visual way of brainstorming. Worksheets help to create a mental image of what you want to come up; especially if things are not going smoothly. They also provide a step-by-step guide on how a person or a group should go about the activity.
Although we know that brainstorming is almost like coming up with a list of ideas, the worksheet narrows down a typically wide area to one that can be explored during the session.
Worksheets also work for groups who have no experienced facilitator or for those who are starting out and unfamiliar with the brainstorming practice.
Here are some pointers on how to effectively use a brainstorming worksheet during a session:
- The good thing about worksheets is that they are customizable, easy to use, and easy to create. There are many brainstorming worksheets downloadable from the Internet that are designed to suit different purposes. There are many which are specific in nature, and many that can be used no matter what the topic is. If you cannot find one matching your needs, you can easily create your own.
- When you’re choosing which worksheet to use, concentrate on the question you need to answer, or the problem you need to have addressed at the end of the session. Make sure that the format of the worksheet will lead you in the right direction. The worksheet must help you direct your thoughts towards that goal.
- It is also important to note that the worksheet must be efficient. It should be simple enough to help frame the group’s mindset but should also be on point when it comes to leading the group’s thought processes. Do not resort to a worksheet that you think will only complicate the brainstorming session as the process is already complicated enough.
- However, as you let the worksheets guide you during the brainstorming session, it is important to allow some level of flexibility when it comes to the process itself. It should only serve as a guide, but you should never be restricted from going beyond what the worksheet requires. Remember that brainstorming is a no-limit, no-filtering process. Let the worksheet lead you, but also allow your ideas to flow freely.
Brainstorming Chart for an Efficient Thinking Process
Brainstorming is a creative and a highly-participative activity where all the participants can offer their ideas, without judging whether an idea is right or wrong. After all the ideas have been heard, the best ones are discussed and then the best ones are chosen and applied.
One way to make the brainstorming session easier and more structured is the use of charts. Using brainstorming charts helps the participants visualize ideas and see the relationships and hierarchy between those ideas. In turn, participants will be able to think of more ideas; which are more focused and more relevant to the discussion. This will make way for improved communication and a more efficient decision-making process.
Brainstorming charts also help organize ideas into something that immediately makes sense, as opposed to disorganized random ideas. Instead of just thinking about ideas, participants are also able to expand their thought processes to include the relationships between issues, the underlying stories behind an issue or the issues the brainstorming session is trying to address.
On the other hand, charts are also useful for individual brainstorming, especially if someone is having a hard time coming up with ideas.
The use and integration of different shapes, lines, connectors, colors, and fonts makes the brainstorming session, the visual thinking and the learning process even richer. These visual aids represent information, and they also trigger the brain into seeing relationships between pieces of information with symbols and images.
Brainstorming charts also allow the participants to learn new concepts and knowledge and integrate them with what they already know.
Here are some pointers on how to make better use of brainstorming charts to make the session more efficient:
Choose the best chart
Charts are widely used not only in brainstorming activities but also in academic settings to aid learning. Since there are many charts to choose from, the hard part is finding the best one to help your group accomplish its goal or goals by the end of a brainstorming session.
There are different types of charts that can be used depending on what you want to do:
Concept maps show the links or relationships between words and ideas. They are also useful in showing the causes and the effects of ideas or problems.Webs are helpful in breaking down big ideas into smaller ones and in showing both sides of the coin such as the positive and the adverse effects, advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons, etc. of possible actions.A mind map, on the other hand, works just like a concept map. The only difference is that a mind map is used to branch out the main topic into several sub-themes. The more distant the sub-item is from the main one, the less-related the ideas become to the main subject.
Keep a file of the brainstorming you just used
After a brainstorming session, don’t just discard the chart that you used. Keeping an electronic file or a hard copy of it is extremely helpful as a reference to look back at later. It can also be used as a template if you need to brainstorm again in a similar format to solve another problem.
Tip: if you use status.net for your brainstorming sessions, all data is collected automatically and available for further reference, with flexible export and print functions.
Brainstorming Templates: Free Download
Free online tools for work:
1. Fluxes.com — Free Project and Task Management Software
2. Status.net — Software for Daily and Weekly Status Reports