Brainstorming Templates

 

Brainstorming with your team or on your own can help create innovative and unique perspectives to your projects. Try out a few of these templates to tweak or enjoy as is.

starburst-brainstorm-example

The Starburst Brainstorming method uses a visual tool to help your team generate a good number of solutions around a single problem.

This method works well when you need to make sure you address every aspect of the problem or question. It also helps your team focus on the aspects that are most important when addressing the issue at hand. 

In the center of the star, write your question or problem. A Cardsmith card is already in this board’s center star waiting for you to edit the card title with your particular topic. 

Then, use each of the words to kickstart discussion about that aspect of your brainstorming topic.

See this blog post for more ideas on how to generate more creative ideas while brainstorming.  

current future state and path example

This tool can be useful in coaching and consulting. In coaching, the future or desired state is where the client wants to be at some given point in time.  The current state represents where the client is now. The Gap area are obstacles that the client sees they will need to overcome and milestones they will need to accomplish on the way to their future desired state.  

This can also be used as a strategy tool for a team or organization to move from some current state to a more desired, future state.

In order to get the most of this tool, it is helpful to ask thought provoking questions:

  • When assessing the current state:  “Where am I (or we)?”, “Who am I?”, “What do I do?”, “What assets and strengths do I have?”, “What do I have that we don’t want”, etc.   
  • When designing the desired state:  “Who am I now? “, “What do I have?”, “How do I feel?”, “What am I doing?”.
  • When brainstorming obstacles and milestones:  “What skills must I acquire?”, “Who do I need to help?”, “What limiting beliefs will I need to overcome?”. 

Use the multi-select tool (hold down shift key and then click or draw a box around multiple cards) and the left card menu in order to delete the sample cards that are.    

Cardsmith Pro-tip: Use the Zoom Slider Bar to make the background image larger or smaller in order to fit your screen. 

ansoff matrix template example cardsmith

The Ansoff Matrix is a strategic tool often used by senior management teams to brainstorm, categorize, discuss and decide on the best strategy for future growth.

A team might already know they want to apply one of the growth strategies:  Market Penetration, Market Development, Product Development or Diversification, or they may want to explore a few of these strategies.  Cards with different ideas can be placed into each of the four boxes of the Ansoff Matrix: For example:  Placing a “Decrease the price of a loss leader” card under Market Penetration.

A key feature of this model is that as you move up and to the right, the strategies take on higher risk which will need to be mitigated and managed.

For more information, here’s the Wikipedia entry about this framework.

Cardsmith Pro-tip: Use the Zoom Slider Bar to make the Ansoff Matrix background image larger or smaller in order to fit your screen.    

swot analysis template cardsmith board

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. SWOT Analysis is a technique for assessing these four aspects of your organization, team, or project.

When creating a new strategy, the SWOT Analysis can help by encouraging a team to brainstorm and assess the organization’s internal strengths, opportunities in the marketplace, internal weaknesses and external threats.

Ideally you will then use this information to help craft a strategy that will position your organization uniquely in the marketplace and thus build a competitive advantage.  This blog post discusses some ideas about how to create a unique strategy.  

You can also use the SWOT analysis to evaluate a personal decision, such as should I hire someone to remodel my home, or hire a contractor. Doing a SWOT for each option can reveal things you may not have considered such as opportunity costs, hidden risks, etc.

Cardsmith Pro-tip: Use the Zoom Slider Bar to make the SWOT background image larger or smaller in order to fit your screen.

agile scrum retrospective board example

Use this retrospective brainstorm board with your team at the close of one sprint before the team begins the next sprint.

A retrospective typically consists of asking the team to brainstorm answers to the following four questions:

  1. What went well?
  2. What could have gone better?
  3. What do we want to try next?  (start something new, or drop something that we don’t think is necessary)
  4. What questions do we have?

Once the team brainstorms and records answers to the above questions, they can be prioritized, grouped, and discussed. Changes to the way the team works together or how they interact with management or their customer can then be decided and implemented as part of the next sprint.

The retrospective is also a time to celebrate the closing of the last sprint as a team accomplishment. It’s a great time to come together in a positive way to build trust and rapport amongst the team members.

The retrospective is an opportunity to review the team’s accuracy in meeting the last sprint’s goals. Were all User Stories completed? If not, what did we learn? Do we need to change something to get better at estimating Story Points? Can we challenge ourselves to complete more Story Points next Sprint?

driving forces brainstorm template example board

Often we want to dive in and start brainstorming solutions to an existing problem. However, it might make more sense to initially figure out what’s driving or causing that problem. In brainstorming terms, this process is called a Drivers Analysis.

The first step of a Drivers Analysis is no different than any other brainstorm session: identify the problem.

Once you’ve done that, rather than focusing on coming up with solutions, try to work out the reason this problem exists. It can be helpful to ask the group questions that address who, what, when, where, why and how. For instance, if sales are down, you might ask, “What are our competitors doing more effectively?” Or, “How have we changed our sales processes lately?”

As brainstorm participants offer their answers to these questions, you will see possible solutions coming to light. Continuing with the example above, you might realize that your company cut back on advertising around the same time your competitors released a popular new commercial on social media. It quickly becomes clear that reassessing your company’s advertising strategy is a solution to the problem.

monkey mind brainstorm template

Use this 3 step exercise to calm and focus your mind, while getting control of your to-do list.

Do you have a Monkey Mind? Does your mind move from one idea, to another, to another – perhaps in a state of overwhelm?

When we get busy, or stressed, or disorganized, our brains try to take care of us by reminding us about all that they are worried about. “Don’t forget this task” your brain says, only to be quickly followed up with “Don’t forget what you told Sam you’d do for him before the next meeting”, only to quickly fly off to “I’m worried about not having time to complete my project”, and then to “I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all!”.

You feel out of control and anxious about what seems like a pile of things on your plate. Like a computer without enough memory, your brain is thrashing — jumping back and forth between multiple jobs. You can’t feel productive because you don’t really know what to work on next. When this happens is a great time to just hit pause, and do a little exercise that will both calm your brain and be a great first step into getting back on track and working on what truly matters most.

Read more here about how to do our 3 step mind taming exercise using a board like this one.  

or Watch this short video of the process here.