Have you ever struggled to come up with new ideas for a product or service? Maybe it’s a name, color, or packaging that’s holding you back. Maybe it’s the flow or creation process. When I’ve been in similar situations I always like to get a group of peers together and do a little mastermind project. We’ll take a simple brainstorming diagram and go around the room and capture ideas. We usually set a time limit of one minute.
The ideas usually come fast and furiously and you need to write them down quickly. The key to making this work is speed, without restraint on what is presented. When people have to think quickly, raw thoughts come to the surface without restrictions. It is amazing to see how this works.
Sometimes the best ideas are the crazy ones that come out of left field. One idea can lead to another and soon you have a lot of suggestions and inspiration to work with. Our minds work so well when we are presented a question and we have to respond quickly.
So how can you replicate this mastermind experience without a group of people? How can you do it with a large group of people in a room that might make masterminding impractical? I would like to introduce you to SuddenMind, a desktop idea mapping toolkit that you can use by yourself, with a mastermind group, or even in a large meeting assembly.
The tools are simple to create and you can print them out quickly on a laser or inkjet printer. The kit includes…
1. A simple mind mapping template. This is a classic and works well with a small group. It’s simple to use. Just write down your question/topic in the center circle, set a time period of one minute, and go around the room getting responses from everybody. Write down the responses on the end of the lines. You’ll be amazed how well this works.
It is best to have one person as the moderator and writer so the ideas will flow unrestricted. It’s also a good idea to set a rule that there are no wrong answers. Sometimes the crazy ideas are what really work.
2. Mind Mapping Cards: Basic. This is a set of ten small cards with a simple word on it. You turn the cards upside down, shuffle them, and turn them over one at a time. Set yourself a time period of 30 seconds to write down something on each card. You can use these alone or in a group. These are useful because they force you to think quickly and on a random idea.
The basic cards just use a word and you write your responses on the lines provided. This is a great way to start the process and if you use them in a group you’ll be amazed at the variety of responses you receive. In a group setting, you can have them presented in the same order or have them shuffled. If they are presented in the same order you can get group vocal feedback during the process. These come in a mind mapping template based on Avery Business Cards.
3. Mind Mapping Cards: Visual. This takes the mind mapping template card idea a little further and presents the user with a word and a memory jogging shape to work with. This increases the creativity and the shapes can contribute to some imaginative answers. The rules here are the same as the basic set but you can write anywhere on the cards. Putting answers in the shapes can really jog your mind to come up with creative ideas.
Since these shapes tie in with the structure of ideas you may find answers coming in product creation, product flow and manufacturing processes. Visual learners will find these cards especially helpful.
4. Mind Mapping Cards: Concept. These cards are a little more complex. They take a concept and present it to you in a visual way. With a concept card you will have to come up with a unique answer that is focused in a specific area. Since there is a limited time period you’ll be amazed how your mind can take a more evolved idea and come up with an answer.
You can easily modify these cards to your own business plan and the feedback that you get from a group exercise may be invaluable. With concepts like Cool Factor, Web Marketing, and Word of Mouth Marketing, you may have very usable ideas created that you can implement quickly.
5. Mind Mapping Template: Layout. This is a printed, standard letter size sheet of paper for you to put your finished cards in a radial layout. Similar to a basic brainstorming diagram, this sheet allows you to capture multiple ideas on cards and present them in a visually organized way. This is especially helpful in a mastermind group as you can take everyones individual cards and display them together. This is a simple but helpful tool. This works very well with the Basic set of cards.
6. Mind Mapping Template: Connectors. With all of your ideas on individual cards , you can use these arrows and connectors to create an idea map, flowchart, or process map right on your desk. With a little imagination you’ll be creating complex flows that you can move around to your hearts content. When you are finished, take a quick digital photo and transfer the diagram into SmartDraw or other flowcharting software.
Connectors are great for visual collaboration in a mastermind or other small group. Just put all the cards on the table, grab the connectors, and create your flow. You can easily fill in blank cards with a Sharpie to create almost any diagram. Have fun… experiment… and create your business masterpiece. These are also a great addition to our Five Minute Flowchart.
Download the SuddenMind Toolkit
- Download the SuddenMind Toolkit template
- Unzip files
- Open individual documents in Microsoft Word
- Modify text as necessary or print as is
- Cut & paste shapes as needed
- Print cards out on Avery Business Card stock (10 card)
- Print Layout Sheet and Brainstormer on heavyweight paper
- Break cards apart
- Put them in a stack upside down
- Draw one card at a time and take 30 seconds to fill in
- Place completed cards on the layout sheet or in a flowchart
This toolkit has many different options. Print multiple sheets and use it in a group mastermind session or you can use it to brainstorm by yourself. The possibilities are many and the cards are easily modified to match your individual needs.
Once you are done you can transfer your ideas to a conventional flowchart/mind mapping program such as Smartdraw. You can download a free trial of Smartdraw and give it a test drive.
I have been amazed how well this system works for coming up with new business concepts and really thinking through ideas. Take some cards to your next meeting and give them a go. You’ll find that everyone will want to participate and you’ll quickly have numerous ideas to work with.
Other printable items that you may find helpful…