I just saw a Tweet about someone feeling more comfortable about brainstorming with a whiteboard than using software and a friend Rod Sloane – No Bull Business has just poked me about doing more brainstorming with businesses. Some argue that the manual process is more engaging than an automated one but I don’t want to stir that comparison up.
I think the real issue is the competency of the facilitator with their tools of choice. It takes practice to become competent with these tools. If you are going to draw freehand and write in front of audience, you need to practice. Your competency needs to be greater than most of the audiences you will interact with. I bet Jamie Nast – Idea Mapping has hours of drawing experience with her tool kit and her audience (including me) likes what she does.
Good facilitators know the short cuts (keys) and restrictions imposed by their tool. They know when to start a new sheet or use a different coloured Post-It or send the topic to a new map. It’s also about recognising your limits. Tony Buzan uses some very competent graphic artists in “The Ultimate Book of Mind Maps” Note in the Wikipedia link he is using a computer. 😉
One of my core competencies is being able to use MindManager in front of a live audience either at the keyboard or on the Tablet PC and leaving the audience thinking that was easy and simple.
The manual v software comparison is like saying Jimi Hendrix is better than Julian Bream or vice versa. Both are leading exploiters of their tools and both work well with normally different audiences (well I have albums from both of them but I have only seen Julian live) .
So here are the strengths of brainstorming with me:
- Items can be deleted, moved, copied, grouped and linked very quickly.
- It unusual for the projector screen to fall down or off the wall.
- I don’t run out of paper or pens.
- I have access to more than 16 colours.
- I have 8 hours of batteries to cover power failures. With small groups I can brainstorm in the dark.
- I bring a spare PC, projector and screen.
- I can paste images on the map.
- I can add spreadsheet ranges.
- I can add links to web pages, files and folders.
- The brainstorm can be published and / or emailed immediately the meeting ends to the participants and others.
- I don’t stop at brainstorming. It’s easy to assign action owners, dates, priority, duration and send filtered maps or lists to the action owner and meeting owner.
- Those actions can be seen as timeline or Gantt chart at the meeting.
- I can organise on-line asynchronous brainstorms accessed via your browser (no need for MindManager desktop license).
Should I be doing something else on a Saturday morning? Perhaps cycle out to see the first steam train built in England for a while smoke past.
You comments please?