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What You Said: What’s Your Favorite Brainstorming Tool?

blueheadguy

Earlier this week we asked you to share your favorite brainstorming tools and techniques; you responded and now we’re back to share your tips.

Favorite Sites and Software

Several software tools made multiple appearances in reader responses. John Lopez shares love for popular MindManager:

I have tried a vast array of brainstorming and management tools, to the point of being quite exhausted by the fact new ones keep appearing.

In the end I setted on MindJet’s MindManager. While I really love The Brain for multiple connectivity, I just couldn’t live with it long term (although it was the runner up and I only recently didn’t upgrade to the latest version… if the server version wasn’t so painfully expensive I might have keep it.)

MindJet’s MindManager simply works in such a straightforward way, responds quickly to input and moves seamlessly from brainstorming (it has a brainstorming “wizard” that tries to walk you though the process… along with many templates that address common needs) to organization (easy drag and drop, annotation marks and note taking) and for me the reason I use it, project management.

Brainstorming is great, but if you don’t actually follow up it isn’t as effective as it could be. So being able to organize my brainstorming into a work breakdown structure and then tag times, people and resources directly onto the result of my brainstorming was the feature that I couldn’t live without after using it.

Other applications that made an appearance include FreeMind, XMind, MindGenius, and Blumind.

When it came to web sites things were a little lighter, but several people mentioned how much they loved LucidChart and how it was the absolute best tool they’d used. Van writes:

I’ve tried a lot of mind-mapping software (Xmind, Blumind, etc.) but none of them hold a candle to LucidChart.com.

He wasn’t alone in that sentiment, so if you’re looking for a powerful web-based mind mapping solution it may be worth checking out.

Analog Tips (or: Why the White Board Will Never Die)

2011-08-12_121542

Many readers used analog tools like white boards, notepads, etc. James weighs in heavily in favor of the analog method:

A white board.

Why perform 3 steps for a software program when marker to board is two ? (cap off marker, marker on board)

Some tech kids/young adults are so ingrained into the Matrix, they believe anything w/o script is like a chariot is to a Prius.

Elliot also failed to see the allure of software in the face of the speed of a pen and paper:

I have a medium-sized whiteboard which sits leaning against my desk, and an assortment of marker pens lying about. Great for quickly jotting down ideas, especially changeable ones, and pretty eco-friendly.

Otherwise, pen and paper. I have never found a piece of software easier to use for things like mind-mapping or brainstorming than pen and paper.

Grant mixes up the analog and digital as he moves from group to personal brainstorming:

We used flip-chart sized post-it notes. They have flip charts that after you fill a page, you can tear it off and stick it to the wall! Not great for one person, but for a large group, they are excellent.

For just me, I use a text file in an outline kind of format, starting very general and adding layers of detail as I go.

Other readers used notepads, notecards, and other analog methods to capture there brainstorming without touching a computer. Hit up the original comment thread to see all the different ways your fellow readers get their ideas on paper and/or into their computers.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/12/11

Comments (9)

  1. Eugene

    After visiting the websites of the mentioned tools, watching demo videos and trying out some of them, I ended up registering for WorkFlowy, which was mentioned in one of the comments in the earlier post, but unfortunately not in this one. I think it will work very well for me because I love nested bulleted lists, it mimics the way I think.

  2. Jim

    Not QUITE a mindmapping solution but I’m finding NerverNote a great tool!

  3. matt

    I like it for its simplicity. It really helps you map out how to go about things.

    Like if you wanted to successfully do anything you should know where to start and what should come after another.

    So it works for many things!

  4. Andy

    Without a doubt, BluMind is my “go to” tool for brainstorming. Its small, simple and it gets out of my way.

    LucidChart is great but I like to be offline during my brainstorm sessions.

    And, MindManager has become too bloated and the UI is an abomination.

  5. Paul

    Paper :)

  6. Vinny

    I’m surprised no one mentioned mind42.com.

  7. vin

    I’ve used interactive whiteboard software, such as Activ Inspire from promethean, they had a free version available. Easy to use whiteboard functionality where you could draw/write free hand or type text as well as drag and drop shapes etc. Ideal if you have a touch surface or drawing tablet -

  8. Ema

    Have you tried DropMind? It is easy to use, less expensive and you can integrate your desktop, web and Ipad application and work on your brainstorming from anywhere. I especially like the user friendly interface.

  9. John

    LucidChart is the winner for me.

    @Andy, I think you can go offline when you’re using LucidChart and then just reconnect and it will sync up with their servers. I’ve done that on the iPad with success.

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