20+ Brainstorming Diagram Templates That Bring out Fruitful Ideations

We hear more often about the freedom and no-judgment side of brainstorming. But what we also neglect is that only under proper structures and rules, can brainstorming achieve its best purpose.

A good brainstorming should not go without process in mind.

In this guide, we provide 20+ useful and beautiful brainstorming diagrams that fits best practices for brainstorming processes, ranging from ideation to actions.

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First...

Why Use Brainstorming Templates in XMind

Comparing to traditional MS Office templates or a whiteboard, XMind is better in the following ways:

  • Free for unlimited time and no registration required. Just download the software and open the templates you download. Boom! You can start to use.
  • Digital mind mapping. The radiant (aka center-out) structure of mind maps is perfect for expansion on generated ideas. XMind auto-generates a mind map by just Tab and Enter. Not to mention the countless possibilities of mind maps. They can turn into some cool diagrams, e.g, Starbusting and S.W.O.T analysis. You will see that in a second.
  • Different diagrams for different stages of brainstorming, same easy interaction. Tab for sub-level nodes and Enter for same-level nodes. With this interaction, you can create Org-Chart, Timeline, Fishbone, even Matrix for different processes of brainstorming, ranging from ideation to actions. No manual layout.
  • Easy drag-and-drop features for reorganizing. You can move a node between different branches by just drag-and-drop.
  • ZEN mode for focus and timed sessions. ZEN mode clears out all unnecessary features for brainstorming and calculates the time you spent.

Here is a sneak peek of what brainstorm mapping in XMind looks like:

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Free-thinking

At this stage, focus on quantity and defer judgment. Use the following maps in a layer-by-layer manner. At ideas inside the inner layer of boxes. Then extend and build on existing ideas by branching out.

Mind Mapping

A business plan template

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A brainstorming map template

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Mind mapping is almost equivalent to brainstorming nowadays. The method is fairly beginner-friendly (although there are some techniques required to make you a pro.) A typical mind mapping process looks like this:

  1. Start with writing the problem or topic in the center.
  2. Put down major perspectives of the topic in the first layer.
  3. Then write down related ideas for each perspective to the next level.
  4. Repeat Step 3 until you run dry of ideas.

Tips in XMind

In the process of ideation, you can mark might-be important topics based on gut feelings. In XMind, you can Quick Style a topic to highlight.

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Bubble Mapping

A bubble map template for personal projects.

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Similar to mind mapping, but even more free-style. Bubble mapping helps to brainstorm on qualities of an idea. Say, if you are thinking of an IT project, what qualities are related to that? Then write the qualities in different bubbles and continuously drill down those ideas.

Question-Storming

A simple worksheet for participants to brainstorm ideas for all questions the team has.

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Often when people are put together, aiming to come up with orignal ideas, people would be stressed to create anything but.

Question-storming, or Q-Storming is designed to solve that problems. Instead of thinking about ideas, participants try to pop up questions around the central issue.

With the series of questions in mind, then any solutions or answers for each idea.

Organize and Compare

When you or your team have enough ideas. Move on to organization and comparisons.

Simple Brainstorming Worksheet

A worksheet that allows you to compare the pros and cons of a list of ideas.

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This sheet helps you compare the pros and cons of different ideas.

Affinity Diagram

An affinity diagram for summarizing brainstorm ideas.

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This technique is widely used in contextual inquiry or UX design or group data from interviews, observations, and user testings. The process is:

  1. Record each idea on the node
  2. Organize related ideas into the same group
  3. Group related groups under a bigger idea
  4. Repeat again until the number of the top-level group less than 5 (or agreed number by the team)

Tips in XMind

Use shortcut keys Command+Enter (or Ctrl+Enter on Windows) to quickly create group names.

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Double Bubble Mapping

A double bubble map that lists out the similarities and differences between content marketing and SEO.

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A double bubble map compares the similarities and contrasts the differences between the two objects. The objects can be anything, ranging from an idea, a policy, or a person.

The diagram gets its name from having two main circles in which the two items are written. It is similar to the Venn diagram, as the bubbles for similarities are put in between the two compared items, while the differences are put in the outer ring.

If your team already narrows down to two ideas from the storming sessions, a double bubble map would be a good option to better compare them.


Tips in XMind

Use floating topics and relationships to create bubbles.

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S.W.O.T. Analysis

A SWOT analysis template.

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S.W.O.T. is a must-have in business analysis arsenal. It also comes as a great help for evaluating an idea. By doing this analysis on all selected ideas, you can have a better comparison based on the business viewpoint.

S.W.O.T. analysis divide evaluation by 2 axes: Internal-External, Positive-Negative.

  • Strength -> The internal and positive factors. What do you like most about this idea? What is your brand/team’s strength for this solution? What resources you have at your disposal that your competitors do not?
  • Weakness -> The internal and negative factors. What do you dislike about it? What are your group’s weaknesses (in resources or abilities) for this solution?
  • Opportunity -> The external and positive factors. What are the trends of the society that are for this idea? What is the weakness of your competitors that positively impact this idea?
  • Threat -> The external and negative factors. What other company’s solution that we should be mindful of? What are the trends that are against your idea?

P.E.S.T. Analysis

A PEST analysis for a food product idea.

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The S.W.O.T. analysis deals with both internal and external factors, while P.E.S.T digs more on the external factor alone.

The analysis is conducted quite similar to S.W.O.T. analysis. In the above section, I mentioned the trends of society and other company’s solutions in external analysis. However, sometimes those factors could be as many as hundreds in real-world settings. That’s why people introduce P.E.S.T. analysis in their brainstorming evaluation.

  • Political -> Laws. Policies, human rights, etc,. For example, for an idea about a tea product. What is the food safety policy for tea? What are the regulatory fees for tea? How about the negotiation power of the labor force?
  • Economical -> Economic growth, consumer confidence, purchasing power, etc,. What is the competition from the retail stores? Is this business seasonal? How much is the maintenance fee?
  • Social -> Social culture, lifestyle, and social benefits, etc,. What is the consumers’ preference for drinks? How about moral issues on tea-farming? How long is the product life cycle?
  • Technological -> Innovation technology and acceptance of new technologies, etc,. How easy is it to be copied? How much does it cost for R&D?

Concept Mapping

A concept map about motivation theory.

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The concept map shows the relationship between different concepts. The core elements are nodes, cross-links and linking verbs (on the connection lines). It is useful for analyzing some connected ideas and coming up with new angles.

Before the final map, you have to go through series of re-organization. It is by this rigorous process that you come up with new angles of a whole network of knowledge. The steps of concept mapping are:

  1. Copy and paste the list of ideas you come up with at the free-thinking stage.
  2. Then organize them for at least 3 times until you think you have a better understanding of this group of ideas.
  3. Connect ideas in the same group and create cross-links for ideas of different groups.
  4. Write downlinking phrases on each connection line.
  5. Visually separate different groups of ideas by using different formats.
  6. Fine-tune and layout.

Further Reading

How to Make Concept Map


Evaluate and analysis

The following are templates that combine both problem analysis and solution brainstorming processes.

5 Whys’ Analysis

“It is very important for young people keep their sense of wonder and keep asking why.”
Stephen Hawking
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As its name suggests, 5 why’s analysis forces you to ask the cause for 5 times. That’s why it is also called root-cause analysis, as each time you ask why you dig one level deeper in the reason behind.

It is possible when you ask why for 3 or 4 times, you think you already reach the root cause. Or the opposite, after 5 times of reason digging, you still haven’t reached the bottom. The number 5 is more a suggested number than the best number.

After you finish asking, write down countermeasures targeting the root cause. And compare your measurements with the original problem to see whether it is sufficient to stop the problem from arising again.

Cause-and-Effect Analysis

5 why analysis for self improvement.

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Nicknamed fishbone diagram, cause-and-effect analysis is similar to 5 why’s analysis above. Both are trying to track down the root cause of a certain effect.

  1. Identify the problem and write it in the “fish head”.
  2. Write down the major factors in the “fishbone” closest to the spine.
  3. List out possible causes for each major factor in the outer “fishbones”.
  4. Analyze the cause and highlight the important ones to the next step. Use stickers or boundaries to mark the important causes. Then discuss in the group about actions for investigation.

Tips in XMind

Use Command+1 (orCtrl+1) to quickly add priority markers in the boxes.

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S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Method

A SCAMPER method template.

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S.C.A.M.P.E.R. method helps you expand and improve upon current ideas from different perspectives. Each letter represents a series of questions:

  • Substitute -> What if we substitute element an of idea B to element b of idea A?
  • Combine -> What if we combine idea A with idea B?
  • Adapt -> What changes need to made to modify idea C in different contexts?
  • Modify -> What could we modify to make this idea better? What other context does this idea work better?
  • Eliminate -> What could we remove from the project to simplify it?
  • Reverse -> How can we change or reorder these ideas? How could we reorganize the steps for this idea to make it more effective?

Starbusting

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The template is the mind map version of starbursting. Starbusting is a visualized version of 5W1H (Who. When. What. Where. Why. How). It works best for developing product or event ideas.

Put your idea in the center and then answer each question to slowly form an actionable proposal for a rough idea.

Reverse Brainstorming

A reverse brainstorming session for improving customer satisfaction.

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Reverse brainstorming is a technique that combines both reversal thinking and brainstorming. Participants try to come up with “solutions” that achieve the opposite effect. It works great when your team is getting tired of a typical brainstorming session.

Say, for example, you want to improve customer satisfaction for a health clinic.

Your team would easily come up with reversed ideas like, “Book the appointment on the wrong date”, “Long waiting time”, etc. These “terrible” ideas work as a check-list for the team to go through possible loopholes.

To reverse brainstorm, the steps are:

  1. Put the reverse problem statement in the central topic of the canvas.
  2. Write down things that will make this problem happen.
  3. Brainstorm solutions to counter-attack each point listed in step 2.
  4. Evaluate each solution and tag them as, “Take Action!!”, “More Research Required”, and/or “More Discussion Required”
  5. (Optional) Elaborate on detailed steps or questions.

Take Actions

Flowchart/Process Chart

Hiring process flowchat.

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A flowchart is a diagram that visualizes a process or sequence of a workflow. It works best for continuous improvement in an established process.

More Templates

Marketing Brainstorming Template

Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy template.

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Perspective Brainstorming

A brainstorming template that compares different perspective of a problem.

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Brainstorming Template For Essay Writing

Column Organizer

Thesis brainstorming template, using a column organizer

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Webbing

Thesis brainstorming template, using idea webbing technique

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Organization Strategy Map

Organization strategy map for non-for-profit

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User Story Mapping

A story map for a sales persona

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Above are templates I created and curated for your brainstorming. What do you think about them? Tweet we if you have any questions :) !

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