All of us have started a project at some point in our life and struggled with it in some way. No matter what kind of project it was, questions had to asked and answered, followed by execution. Once I asked all my questions and made the decision to go ahead with the project, I always find myself loosing focus slightly along the way especially when brainstorming project ideas.

If this has happened to you don’t feel bad. We just need a way to punch our brain in gear and get the ideas flowing. This is why I’ve put together this list, to help you brainstorm project ideas more effectively, enhanced by five interesting apps which will help you make sense of the brainstorming process.

Unselfconscious

Have meetings where team members can throw things around unselfconsciously. For example people can bring their notes and talk about things they’ve discovered that could be useful. This is not supposed to focus on generating ideas, it can be part of a catch-up meeting.

Time it right

For most people, late morning is where they are most creative. For me is around 5pm. Usually people get a bit more relaxed after lunch so mornings are preferable. Also I have heard that a lot of people prefer to avoid brainstorming at the start of the week (you know why). Well the point here is, take the time to identify the best possible window based on your teammates.

Look outside

It’s recommended you are aware of what is happening inside your field but you can often be more inspired by the things you see outside. One quick example would be: If you are working on a project involving a book cover, you shouldn’t take inspiration from other book covers.

Prioritize

Everyone involved in brainstorming project ideas should know everything about the subject. If there is something that I don’t think is important, I add it to the list but make sure it’s clear this is secondary information.

Question everything (more on this below)

The process of coming up with great ideas is a question of analysis. Stay as objective as you can, while you question everything. Is it a good solution?

Use a proper table

Don’t sit around coffee tables, it will hurt your back. 🙂 There’s a trend now for hot-desking and comfy chairs, but you will actually be much more creative if you sit around a proper meeting table. It brings people much closer, there is improved focus, and inspiration can strike.

Honesty

It’s important to be honest when you see what other people are suggesting. If someone is 100% behind an idea it’s going to encourage them to make sure it really is a good idea from an early stage.

Word games

Try using what you might call ‘essence words’ to get your ideas down. Identify words that encapsulate the spirit, personality or message of what you want to put across, even if they seem absolutely crazy. Later on you might find that something resonates with what’s on your mind.

Take a break

After a session try and take a break for a couple of days, so each other’s ideas sink into our minds. Subsequent meeting prove to be much more fruitful, and we tend to have more material to work with.

Apps that may help with Brainstorming Project Ideas

Creative inspiration and pin board apps are perfect for brainstorming project ideas. Here are some recommendations

MindNode

MindNode app is the tool for brainstorming and organising your creative thoughts. It is intuitive and easy-to-use application that will help you generate and organize new ideas. Only available

Mind Vector

You can sit anywhere and brainstorm project thoughts. It’s an exceptional way to transfer ideas into logical patterns where sometimes you don’t have a pencil and paper to jot them down on. It’s like having a Gerber tool for making thoughts visual.

Bloomfire

Bloomfire isn’t just a mind-mapping or brainstorming tool it’s a suite for knowledge management. If you are part of a business that generates a lot of ideas and pushes them through multiple departments, then Bloomfire could be the platform for you. It not only allows for multiple maps and charts to drive decisions, but also allows you to track the content that comes from those ideas, and how successful it is compared to other content. The software may not be able to replace data management entirely, but for a large creative team, it could be an ideal support.

LucidChart

LucidChart is an online diagram and flowchart software. The easiest way to draw flowcharts, wireframes, UML diagrams, network diagrams, mind maps, iPhone mockups, site maps and more. Work together in real time with your team and clients! Along with the online version, Lucidchart also has a downloadable solution that runs on Mac, Windows and Linux; this enables offline editing at any time!

iMindQ

iMindQ is a mind mapping app that will help you to inspire creativity, stimulate thinking and brainstorming, provoke innovation, enable visualizing of ideas, manage information overload and present information in a powerful visual format.

Have you got any ideas for drumming up design inspiration that you’d like to share? What methods have worked for you in the past? And what hasn’t? Tell us what you think below.

Questions to ask when brainstorming Project Ideas

I often find that project planning is an issue. I developed this list to scan for possible ideas to be considered in your projects. It is especially good when you’re just brainstorming project ideas, and giving yourself permission to capture everything that pops into your head.

So here is a comprehensive list of questions you should ask yourself when brainstorming project ideas.

Resources

  • Whose input do we need?
  • Whose input could we use?
  • Has anything like this been done before?
  • What mistakes can we learn from?
  • What successes can we learn from?
  • What resources do we have?
  • What resources might we need?

Executive issues

  • How does this relate to the strategic plan?
  • How does it relate to other priorities, directions, goals?
  • How will this affect our competitive position?

Administration

  • Who’s accountable for this project’s success?
  • Lines of communication
  • Methods of reporting
  • What structures do we need?
  • What planning is still likely to be required?
  • What re-grouping will we need? How often?
  • What people do we need?
  • Current staffing?

Hiring

  • Subcontractors
  • Consultants?
  • How do we get involvement?
  • What skills are required?
  • Who needs to know how to do what?
  • What training do we need?
  • How do we get it?
  • What other communication do we need?
  • Who needs to be informed as we go along?
  • What policies/procedures affected? What needed?
  • What about morale? Fun?
  • Staffing?

Finance

  • What will this cost?
  • How do we get it?
  • What might affect the cost?
  • Might we need additional $?
  • What are the potential payoffs ($)?
  • Who signs the checks?

Operations

  • What is the timing?
  • Hard deadlines?
  • What might affect timing?
  • Who’s going to do the work?
  • How do we ensure complete delivery?

Quality

  • How will we monitor our progress?
  • How will we know if we’re on course?
  • What data do we need, when?
  • What reports, to whom, when?

Politics

Legal

  • Issues?
  • Regulations?

Space/Facilities/Equipment

  • What requires room?
  • How do you get it?
  • What tools do we need? When?
  • Phones
  • Computers
  • Research
  • What might you need to know?

Public Relations

  • Is there value in others knowing about this?
  • How do we do that?

Project Risks

  • What could happen?
  • Could we handle it?

Creative thinking…

  • Who would have concern about the success of this project?
  • What would they say, ask, or input, that you haven’t yet?
  • What’s the worst idea you can imagine, about doing this project?
  • (What is therefore the best idea, which is its opposite?)
  • What is the most outrageous thing you can think of, about this project?
  • How would a 12-year-old kid relate to this project?
  • What would make this project particularly unique?
  • What the worst that could happen?
  • How could we deal with that?
  • What’s the best that could happen?
  • Are we ready to deal with that?
  • How do we feel about this project?

 

Here is my list. I would love to hear some feedback about it. If you have something to add please do so in the comments section below.

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I am a Project Management practitioner with more than 5 years experience in hardware and software implementation projects. Also a bit of a geek and a great WordPress enthusiast. I hope you enjoy the content, and I encourage you to share your knowledge with the world.

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