Brainstorming may be one of the most important features in the mind mapping softwares. Although we’ve already made lots of instructions related to brainstorming, people may still be expecting a detailed brainstorming instruction in XMind. So here we are, leading you to implement your design thinking with the brainstorming sessions.

Start with alone time

People are different. Some prefer to work individually, some prefer to collaborate with the others. To start a design process, we’d still suggest you to start alone: when you give yourself alone time, you can ponder on an idea individually without the interference from the others, so that you are more likely to be more creative and open-minded.

Discover/Research

The first step in the individual process is to discover or research a problem, which leads to the so-called Doing the right thing.

At this stage, the main goal is to define the problem or opportunity, so you could start by ripping the brief – try to question every part of your initial problem, and list as many elements as you can, find characteristics, define areas of interests, etc.

To achieve this, we could refer to the brainstorming mode in XMind now. Open XMind, and create a new map. Click the brainstorming icon (the yellow lamp) at the upper right corner of the screen to enter the brainstorming mode.

In the brainstorming mode, you can see two main areas, an idea factory area including the input area, and the canvas which corresponds to your main mind mapping area.

Now you can list your elements by inputting in the idea factory. However, before diving into your research, cluster your findings into different topics so that you could limit yourself in terms of the scope you want to research.


Click the grouping icon to add different groups, double click the group name to personalize the name, then you can list your elements into different topics.

Type your idea in the input area below each group name, and the ideas will automatically appear in each group. You can double click each idea to edit them.

After all your ideas are listed, drag them to the canvas in an organized structure.

To move the canvas, right click the canvas, then hold and drag to position it.

Define / Hypothesis

Now you can make hypothesis to these problems, and to prioritize them. At this stage, you should ask yourself:

• How do you prove it’s a real problem?
• Why solve this problem over others?
• How might we solve it?
Once you have gone through these thoughts individually, you can start a group discussion session with your ideas prepared.

Follow with a group discussion

Group brainstorming can actually be more effective. The divergence, others’ choices and opinions, usually become your source of inspiration and together, you can come up with more ideas and possible solutions.

This stage is also divided into two parts, ideation and evaluation.

Ideation

During this process, your team should hold a brainstorming session together, and it’ suggested to be open-minded and not to judge. It’s time to go for quantity and to encourage crazy ideas, but it’s also important to build upon others’ ideas and stay on topic. So, let the brainstorming help again.

When it comes to the group brainstorming, you can use the brainstorming mode both as an idea collector and a presentation board. For instance, as you repeat the same procedures of the first step to collect ideas, you can click the lamp icon to hide the idea factory and to present your mind map to others whenever needed.

If you are sharing a big screen to look at, sometimes it’s better to switch to the night mode, so people can see the written words more clearly.

Click the moon icon again, you can go back to the day mode.

Evaluation

Towards the end of the ideation phase, you can now evaluate your ideas in the idea factory, then select your favourite ones together and drag them to the canvas. And if there is any topic you prefer to decide later but is already on the canvas, drag them back to the idea factory whenever you like.

The important thing is to have these two separate phases : one hour for brainstorming, one hour for making choices.

Implementation

After the first two phases, it’s now time to implement your ideas and make it feasible, which includes building a prototype, testing and iteration. You may need other tools to do it, but if you like, you can still use XMind to do some work, like using the flowchart to draw a simple product flow, or using the org chart to organize your test results, etc.

One of the flowcharts from XMind templates

Hope this helps, and if you have any question, you could leave us a comment at the reply area. Have fun!

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