When it comes to generating ideas, brainstorming is one of the most effective methods. It is a technique used to find a solution to a specific problem by gathering ideas from contributors.
Fortunately, there are a lot of brainstorming software providers and tools that can help.
The main goal of brainstorming is idea generation.
Brainstorming is vital when it comes to innovation. As you may know, there are multiple ways to come up with good innovation projects like gathering insights based on trends and technology or spotting opportunities in the market.
However, brainstorming is special. Though it is normally used to generate new ideas for a certain topic, it can also be used to “define” the problem, or its real cause, and generate as many solutions as possible.
What does brainstorming software do?
Brainstorming software helps gather ideas and collaborate with others to bring those ideas to life. Different platforms offer a range of features to help with this outcome like mind mapping, whiteboards, and charts.
Additionally, some software providers also offer features such as real-time collaboration, file sharing, and task management to help with the brainstorming process.
What are the benefits of using brainstorming software
There are plenty of benefits that come with using brainstorming software. For starters, it helps improve productivity and creativity.
It also enables better collaboration as it allows team members to share their ideas with ease. Moreover, it helps capture all the ideas so nothing gets lost in the brainstorming process.
Plus, some software providers also offer features such as real-time collaboration, file sharing, and task management to help with the brainstorming process.
Physical and digital brainstorming
To better understand what brainstorming software does, it is important to draw the line between the two basic types of brainstorming:
- Physical brainstorming
- Digital brainstorming
Physical brainstorming, as its name suggests, means that the team has to meet in person. It is highly effective in urging team members to participate and get involved with the session, even if it may not seem to run that smoothly at the start.
On the other hand, there are a few downsides to it including the following:
- It has to be planned in advance.
- It may cost a lot of time and money.
- Not every team member may be able to join.
- It needs time after the session to sort out the result.
To be fair, physical brainstorming will enable you to better manage the quality of the session itself because you can control the environment and the people in it.
As for digital brainstorming, it is done using tools, like brainstorming software, where participants do not have to be in the same place at the same time to make the brainstorming session successful.
Some of the advantages that come with digital brainstorming include the following:
- Convenience, because people can join the session no matter where they are
- Cost and time-efficiency, as no travel is required
- Ease of use, because most digital brainstorming tools are user-friendly and easy to learn
- Accessibility, because as long as there is an internet connection, anyone can join the session
- Affordability, as many digital brainstorming tools are free or have a free trial
- Flexibility, because the tools used in digital brainstorming sessions, like Accept Mission, have powerful features that can be used for a variety of purposes
- No geographical boundaries, hence making it possible to connect with people from all over the world
However, as attractive as this setup seems, it still comes with a few disadvantages:
- The risk of technical issues, like bad internet connection or power outages that can disrupt the session
- The challenge of getting everyone to focus, as there are many distractions when working online
- The need for a good digital brainstorming tool, as not all tools are powerful enough to make the investment worth it
- Not every team member may be comfortable with using digital tools as some may prefer the personal touch of physical brainstorming sessions
- The need for a good facilitator to keep the session on track, as it is easy for people to get sidetracked when working online
In fact, organizations that want quicker and more complete results are moving into digital brainstorming. Team members who suddenly think of an idea or solution do not have to wait for the session to pitch in their ideas.
Likewise, those who are not comfortable with voicing out their ideas do not have to do it publicly. There are some contributors who fear what others may think of their ideas. This is where brainstorming software comes into play.
What are the benefits of using brainstorming software?
The advantages of brainstorming software are similar to the benefits of digital brainstorming when compared side by side with physical brainstorming, with a few additional ones that are exclusive only to some platforms.
For example, let us go back to the idea mentioned earlier about some participants who may not be comfortable with pitching in their ideas during a physical brainstorming session.
Fortunately, there are platforms out there that enable the participants to contribute anonymously, which helps to level the playing field and allows for a more open exchange of ideas.
When you need to gather in person, you will need to set up a specific time and place. This may pose some problems, especially to participants who belong to other departments or teams who may have other priorities.
This is where brainstorming software shines as it can be used anytime and anywhere, as long as there is an internet connection. Participants can join in the session even if they are in different time zones or working on different shifts.
Likewise, some brainstorming software platforms have features that make it possible to connect with team members who are not in the same location. This is beneficial for companies with a large workforce or with employees who frequently travel.
Plus, some brainstorming software platforms are equipped with features that can help to boost productivity and creativity. For example, some platforms offer templates that can be used for specific projects or goals.
Other platforms have features that help to keep the participants engaged in the session. Accept Mission, for instance, have gamification features that can be used to help the participants warm up and get their creative juices flowing.
If you are running an internal open innovation session, it may be a challenge to gather all the ideas from all participants across your organization if they all have to be there in person in order to pitch in their solutions.
On the other hand, if you are using brainstorming software, contributors can participate wherever and whenever they are free. It is also easy for you to set up brainstorming sessions and challenges without being bound to a specific time and place.
Contributors who are on their mobile devices can also pitch in their ideas on the go. Most brainstorming platforms work on almost any device and will only need an internet connection to work.
In addition, since participants interact with the brainstorming session digitally, they do not consume a lot of physical space. Meaning, you can invite large groups easily via a link or email address and not worry about managing all of them.
Done well, you can practically invite anyone, even customers from around the globe, into your brainstorming session. The more ideas you have the better chances you have at finding quality ideas.
What to look for in brainstorming software?
Brainstorming software comes in all shapes and sizes. There are features that are unique only to others while some specialize in a certain brainstorming methodology. If you are looking for a brainstorming platform to use, here are some things to consider:
- Campaign: If the software has a campaign feature, you can set up a brainstorming session easily with invites, optional multiple rounds, organize teams (and subteams), and others. Once everything is configured, the software will take care of everything.
- Undercover: With an undercover feature, users can participate without revealing their true identity. Everyone can then participate without having to worry whether or not others will think of their ideas as absurd. No scoring is based on the person but on the ideas themselves.
- Ease of use: It is important that the software is easy to use as there may be users who are not that technologically literate. There should also be an easy-to-use guide on how to use the software.
- Gamification: Participation is key for successful digital brainstorming. Gamification helps increase engagement and creativity. Some gamification features include leaderboards, undercover, experience points, and mission countdown timers.
- Interoperability: This will help you create or engage with a brainstorming session from a computer and continue it on mobile in case you need to go somewhere. Interoperability enables you to participate anywhere, anytime.
- Rating of ideas: Coming up with the best ideas is easy if there is a way to rate and score ideas. To be fair, both users and experts must be able to rate the ideas.
- Reactive or proactive: These are two modes where reactive is about users dropping their ideas whenever they have one. Proactive is when you set up a campaign and remind users to participate, like a brainstorming challenge or competition.
- Next step after brainstorming: Some brainstorming tools are more robust than others and will actually enable you to create innovation projects, where you place the selected ideas into them, and manage their progress to success.
Examples of Good Brainstorming Software
Now that you know what features to consider when looking for brainstorming software, here are good examples of platforms and tools that you can use with your digital brainstorming:
1. Accept Mission
Accept Mission is an innovation agency that offers consultancy services and an innovative platform that is designed to collect, manage, and select valuable ideas, and execute successful innovation projects.
The platform has four primary focus points:
- Idea generation
- Idea management
- Innovation management
- Innovation learning
Accept Mission has three tools for brainstorming:
Using the software will enable you to start proactive ideation campaigns with full gamification mode features. Users will be able to pitch in their ideas using a made-up identity of anyone they like. Campaigns can accommodate large groups of people, up to thousands of participants.
The boards feature will also help you manage innovation projects with a small team. The gamification features can still be used and everyone in the team can collaborate with each other in real-time.
Lastly, the inbox feature will enable you to collect ideas easily from different contributors and quickly rate and score the ideas according to the metrics that you set. This can be used in reactive brainstorming sessions where contributors can pitch in whenever inspiration strikes.
Here are some of the pros and cons of Accept Mission:
|Top-notch gaming features||More text-oriented platform|
|Allows proactive/reactive brainstorming||Handy custom fields|
|Real-time collaboration between teams||Less design interface|
Aside from those three, Accept Mission has more features to offer including a smart kanban feature, a selection tool, and others that will enable you to fully manage your innovation projects and portfolios.
If you want to know more about how the platform may be able to help you, check out the different use cases of Accept Mission.
2. Miro Online Whiteboard
Miro is an online visual collaboration platform designed for teams. Needless to say, their platform is built to provide organizations with a place for modern work, communication, and collaboration, across different formats, tools, channels, and time zones.
Miro’s online whiteboard tool is perhaps the best digital whiteboard created. It is fast, free, and simple to use. Innovative organizations that use any innovation funnel on the planet can make use of Miro’s features.
Here is a rundown of some of Miro’s features:
- Templates and frameworks
- Infinite canvas
- Mouseover collaboration
- Easy screen sharing and presentations
- Embedded video
- Chat, and commenting features
One of the promises of this platform is for organizations to create and innovate faster, with empowered cross-functional discovery and brainstorming. You can use an infinite canvas, complete with a set of widgets and prebuilt templates.
The mouseover collaboration feature is gold as it allows you to see and track how team members engage with your boards. The feedback features are also amazing as your team can work asynchronously or synchronously, depending on your choice.
Here are some of the pros and cons of Miro Online Whiteboard:
|Looks and feels really good||No follow-up features after brainstorming|
|One of the best digital whiteboards||No campaign and undercover features|
|Amazing collaboration features||Not fit for large groups|
If you are looking for a tool that specializes in brainstorming and collaboration, Miro is one of the best out there. Its powerful features are designed to help teams work on ideas together seamlessly.
Unfortunately, its strength is also its weakness. Though it is a powerful brainstorming tool, you cannot use it for anything afterward like selecting the best ideas or organizing innovation projects and portfolios.
Viima is an idea management software designed to help enterprises collect, manage, and develop ideas with their stakeholders. Founded in 2013, Viima is driven into building a cutting-edge, easy-to-use web application for innovators.
Their platform primarily revolves around four main features:
- Idea collection
- Process development
- Prioritizing ideas
- Innovation analysis
Viima makes it easy and fun for you to collect ideas from different groups of people. All ideas entered become bubbles. They also have gamification features to get the creative juices of contributors up and running.
They also have automatic notifications that will categorize ideas and alert concerned group members. This makes managing the idea gathered during brainstorming effortless and enables you to focus on what is important.
There are also boards that will help employees, customers, and other contributors engage with ideation campaigns. You can set up the theme and adjust the accessibility settings to determine who can see what.
Here are some of the pros and cons of Viima:
|A colorful and playful interface||Not a total innovation software|
|Appealing gamification and dashboard||Not designed to update and follow up ideas|
|Superb customer support||Hard to spot the right ideas from the masses|
Viima is one of the best idea management solutions. It can even help you create your own systematic process and framework and enables you to mention the right people and add attachments to each idea.
Unfortunately, it was not designed to update and follow up on ideas. That means, it may be good for collecting ideas and managing campaigns, but it seems to be lacking in features that will enable you to turn those ideas into projects.
Use the Best Brainstorming Software
With the best brainstorming software, digital brainstorming becomes easy and manageable, even if you and your team do not meet in person, and possibly, at the same time, and remove obstacles that exist when it comes to physical brainstorming.
On the other hand, it may also be a good idea for your team to start with physical brainstorming and ensure that everyone is on the same page, and potentially raise engagement with digital brainstorming.
Next steps: When it comes to choosing the best brainstorming software, you can try all the above tools and see for yourself which you like best. On the other hand, if you want to bring ideas to the next level, then you will need to use an integrated platform, like Accept Mission.
Doing so will cost a bit more. However, you will get way more features that deliver business value for your organization and will help you achieve strategic business goals.
Learn more about Accept Mission’s features that can help you with brainstorming.