Brainstorming Toolbox is a well-designed and enjoyable creativity software program that can help you to generate dozens of profitable new ideas. Developed by Infinite Innovations Ltd., this program enhances your ability to think creatively and laterally through a set of well-designed brainstorming exercises. A number of these, including SCAMPER, random word and reframing, are proven idea-generation techniques that have been adapted for use in this software program.
The user interface of the Brainstorming Toolbox is the ultimate in simplicity. A vertical column of buttons on the left side of the screen gives you fast access to each of the program’s brainstorming exercises. Oddly, two of the brainstorming tools appear in a drop-down list, apparently because the developer ran out of room for more buttons as the program was expanded. This could potentially confuse some first-time users, who may never realize what this drop-down box does.
One interesting feature of the Brainstorming Toolbox is the ability to customize the order in which these brainstorming buttons appear. Why is this important? So you don’t get in the habit of using the first exercise in the menu every time you use the program. You can specify the order in which you want the buttons to appear, or you can tell the program to randomize the navigation buttons for you.
The center region of the screen displays the currently-selected brainstorming exercise. Below that is a multi-tabbed window where you can define your problem, type in good ideas, jot down additional thoughts and view hints on how to use the currently-selected technique. The program also displays usage tips in a narrow vertical window on the right side of the screen.
The Brainstorming Toolbox contains nine creative thinking exercises that are designed to stretch your synapses:
Random word – In this exercise, the program displays a single word at random on the screen. Your job is to brainstorm ways in which it can be used as part of your solution.
Random picture – The program displays a picture at random, and asks you to think about ways in which it could be applied to your current problem or challenge. This is a common brainstorming exercise that I’ve always wanted to see in an idea generation program. I’m pleased to see that it’s included in the Brainstorming Toolbox.
False rules – In this exercise, you force yourself to apply a common rule (example) to your current problem or challenge, and forces you to challenge your assumptions.
SCAMPER – SCAMPER is a popular idea generation technique, which uses the letters of the word as a mnemonic for:
This powerful exercise displays the letters of SCAMPER as category buttons; clicking on one displays a lengthy list of idea-stimulating questions that are associated with each letter. These question lists are quite extensive and well thought out.
Role play – In this exercise, you can select from a lengthy list of professional or personal roles, or let the program select one for you at random. You’re then instructed to consider your current problem or challenge as this person would. This “sleight-of-head” technique can often result in many valuable ideas, and it is a great addition to the Brainstorming Toolbox.
What problem – This exercise forces you to examine your current problem or opportunity more closely and to define it more precisely – a valuable step in creative problem solving.
Challenge facts – This exercise prompts you to enter a list of facts and features about your current situation. In a second box, you write down the opposite of that fact, as a wat of challenging your current assumptions. This, too, is a simple but potentially very valuable brainstorming exercise!
Frame change – In this exercise, you start out by stating your current problem or opportunity, then enter many alternate definition as you can think of from a wider perspective (or overview), and finally enter many alternate definitions as you can from a detailed (or narrow) perspective.
Net storm – This tool enables you to brainstorm with other people via your office computer network — a capability that makes Brainstorming Toolbox unique among brainstorming software programs, and should make it an attractive option for small teams and workgroups.
Along with each brainstorming exercise, the program always presents a “hints and tips” window that can help first-time users get up to speed quickly.
Someone who knows a lot about creative problem solving obviously played a key role in the development of the Brainstorming Toolbox. Why? Because it shines, from the well-balanced selection of brainstorming techniques it includes to the well-crafted questions in many of the exercises. Several of the exercises, such as False Rules and Challenge Facts, are especially notable because they encourage lateral and divergent thinking. In other words, they help your mind to think in fresh new directions and to challenge your underlying assumptions. In short, this program should be an integral part of every entrepreneur’s creative problem-solving toolbox.
Brainstorming Toolbox is available for purchase from the Infinite Innovations web site at a cost of $36 (£24.99 UK pounds). At this price, it’s a great investment. A trial version is also available for download.