If all you have is a spreadsheet, you’ll be forced to think in rows and columns.
This concept applies to any tool you use. Imagine jotting down information—ideas, meeting minutes, or notes from a brainstorming session.
If you’re using a Google Doc, you’ll write in bullet points. If you’re using stickie notes, you’ll write down pithy phrases or sentences. On a whiteboard, you’ll likely draw a diagram. Essentially, the tools you use subconsciously influence your thought process.
So, choosing the right tool for your ideation and brainstorming sessions is critical, especially when collaborating with a remote team, with each team member working from their own environment. Virtual idea boards offer the perfect solution. Let’s explore how.
What is an Idea Board?
An idea board is a visual representation of ideas, inspiration, and thoughts. It is a collaborative tool used to bring together various team members to map out their input, whether you’re brainstorming, problem-solving, or scenario planning.
A typical idea board enables teams to:
Capture ideas: During the brainstorming session, an idea board can be used to collate all ideas—good or not—in one place visually for the team to discuss them.
Organize ideas: Once all the ideas are collated, teams can organize them visually. For instance, if a team is brainstorming potential features for a product, the ideas can be organized based on feasibility, effort/time required, skill availability, etc.
Draw connections: Using an idea board allows you to add links between ideas, be it a complementary relationship or a dependency. For instance, if the design of an icon for the website depends on deciding the brand colors, you can map that on the idea board. This helps understand the intricacies of the larger picture clearly.
Convert to tasks and prioritize them: Teams will convert them into tasks to make the ideas actionable. For example, they will agree on a feature to be developed. And then prioritize them for the first sprint.
Archive for reference: The job of an idea board is not done when ideas are converted to tasks. In fact, throughout the project, digital idea boards serve as a reference for its vision. It is also helpful in onboarding new team members, giving them a clear view of the project’s context.
Types of Idea Boards
The physical form of an idea board can be anything like glass walls, easel boards, presentation software, or a digital whiteboard. However, there are some approaches that best serve specific purposes. Let’s explore them.
Brainstorming idea boards
A brainstorming idea board is a typical whiteboard, with space to add anything you need, such as:
- Comments (for each idea)
- Users (who either presented the idea or would take responsibility for its execution)
- Dates (such as deadlines)
- Relationships between ideas or dependencies, if any
For example, if your content team is short of ideas for upcoming blog posts, you can use an idea board to do some brainwriting. Everyone can write down their content ideas for a few minutes without unnecessary filters or self-doubt. Then, they pass it on to the next person to add to or refine.
You can also adapt this brainstorming technique to solve problems as well. Reverse brainstorming is useful when the team knows the problem but not the solution. This helps explore the various reasons the problem could occur and then list ways to solve it.
A flow chart visualizes processes— whether a customer journey or a technical data pipeline. It helps map out every step in the process, along with the direction of flow and branches. Flow charts are handy for complex processes with multiple points of decision.
A concept map is used to simplify complex ideas. It helps break them down into smaller pieces and see how these combine to make the whole.
For example, if you’re exploring the concept of database design for your next product, you might include sub-concepts such as tables, relationships, and data quality, further breaking them down into parameters that define them.
The 2×2 matrix is a popular decision support tool teams and leaders use. On a 2×2 matrix, you can plot your options/statuses and prioritize creative ideas effectively. The Eisenhower matrix, for instance, is popular and plots tasks based on urgency and importance. You might prioritize tasks on a 2×2 matrix, as shown below.
Mood boards are used when the visual element plays a much larger role than everything else. It is typically less about taking specific action than finding the right inspiration or feel for a project.
For instance, architects use mood boards as starting points for space design. Visual/UI designers use mood boards to identify styles for colors, icons, illustrations, typography, etc. Event management teams use mood boards to identify themes. Here are some ClickUp Mood Board templates to be inspired by.
A vision board is a visualization of the end game. For a product team, this might be the view of what a completed product might look like or what goals will have been achieved.
A UX vision board might bring together images representing how users feel when using the product. ClickUp offers several vision board templates for you to choose from.
What are the Benefits of Using Idea Boards?
When teams have too many ideas and thoughts going around in their head without direction or action, an idea board offers them the perfect launch pad. It captures and streamlines good ideas to make them actionable. Here’s how.
When everyone throws their thoughts onto an idea board, you’ll most likely encounter some innovative ideas. This is important because it encourages team members to think radically, exploring solutions otherwise considered foolhardy.
While you might or might not implement all of them, it gives teams the freedom to think outside the box. .
Complex problems need radical ideas and solutions but also a simple way to organize and execute them. An idea board is also a collaboration app— enabling teams to collate ideas, evaluate them, share feedback, debate possibilities, explore requirements and dependencies, assign tasks, and take responsibilities all in one place.
It visually does all this, enhancing comprehension and recall.
Better project management
A good idea board gives project managers a structured and scalable foundation to streamline their operations for faster delivery and better customer experience. A kanban board is an excellent example of an idea board used in project management.
Clarity of thought
Digital idea boards allow teams to visualize relationships and dependencies. This helps clarify the idea, gauge feasibility, and plan for contingencies.
For example, a writer has an idea to create an ebook about using project management software for creative agencies. This requires outlining, writing, editing, visual design, a landing page, CRM, social media distribution, and client engagement plans.
By brainstorming this on their own idea board, project managers can:
- Map the entire process flow
- Identify skills needed to execute this
- Break them down into tasks/responsibilities and assign them to team members
- Define a timeline based on the effort required at each stage
- Discuss dependencies and unite team members
- Track progress
- Build repeatable workflows for the future
Updated knowledge base
Every brainstorming session contains a wealth of knowledge—conversations around why some ideas are chosen or rejected feed into how decisions are made in the organization.
Past idea boards offer frameworks and blueprints for future projects. They are records of organizational thinking and preferred ideation techniques.
Archiving past idea boards helps learning and development for new employees, creating self-serve assets without any additional effort. A virtual idea board is also easy to share within the organization.
Here’s how you can get started with an idea board
How to Make an Idea Board?
A blank space and a pen are all you need to make an idea board. A whiteboard, an easel board, or a piece of paper can get you started.
However, a digital whiteboard with purpose-designed features can effortlessly elevate your ideas to action. But first.
1. Identify the purpose
As you would for any brainstorming session, identify the purpose, and outline the agenda for the meeting. You can make this as detailed as you like, but include the following:
- What do you seek to accomplish? E.g., Write a design brief for the rebranding
- Who is included? E.g., Brand manager, product manager, and designer
- What assets do you already have? E.g., Existing logo, brand manual, client feedback
- Why is this important? This will help rally the team towards meaningful work with better engagement
2. Choose a digital idea board software
Choose a tool like ClickUp Whiteboard, which is purpose-designed for teams to collaborate, ideate, and take action. It offers:
- Access to remote team members
- Flexible to add elements with a large canvas
- Simple to connect/rearrange elements based on the progress of the conversations
- Editable to keep updated in real-time, with features to drag-and-drop elements as you need
- Adaptable with capabilities to add notes/comments and connect existing documents/tasks
- Shareable with explicit access control
- Customizable with the ability to draw, type, add shapes, and even add emojis, if you please
Once you’ve chosen the best whiteboard software and invited team members to it, you’re all set to begin.
3. Pick a template
Don’t let a blank canvas scare you. To structure your brainstorming session and lead it effectively, a whiteboard template will best serve you. For instance, ClickUp Whiteboard offers templates for flow charts, concept mapping, standup meetings, retrospectives, reverse brainstorming, and brainwriting.
For something more specific, consider ClickUp’s Ideation Whiteboard Template, which offers complete flexibility with custom Statuses, Custom Fields, Custom Views, and other project management features.
4. Invite the team’s ideas
If you’re using an online idea board synchronously, bring team members on to a call and brief them on the expectations from the meeting.
It also helps to assign an owner who can collate, share ideas, and manage the board, controlling the chaos of everyone drawing on the board simultaneously.
Now invite everyone to give their ideas. For instance, if you’re looking for ideas on what to name your next product, ask everyone to paste sticky notes to the digital idea board. If you’re planning an event, your team can pin photographs of their inspiration.
5. Consider the ideas
To make your idea boarding successful, it is essential to carefully consider every single idea respectfully. This encourages teams to share their thoughts without fear of being ridiculed. So, go through every idea and give feedback.
Also, invite team members to build on each other’s ideas to strengthen them. Combine similar ideas and structure them meaningfully.
6. Organize the ideas on the online idea board
Now, organize them based on your purpose using any of the following visualization techniques.
2×2 matrix: If you’re using the idea board for brainstorming feature development, you can plot low/high cost on the X-axis and effort on the Y-axis. You can then use this to prioritize tasks.
Kanban board: If you’re using the idea board for sprint planning, you can place them on a Kanban board with columns into ‘to-do,’ ‘doing,’ and ‘done’ to keep track of them.
Flow chart: If you’re using the idea board to map out a process, you can turn it into a flow chart by drawing connections and dependencies between them.
Once the idea is converted into a task, project managers often forget about this. This is a mistake. An idea board can be a gift that keeps on giving with focused idea management practices. By thoughtfully organizing and archiving past ideas, organizations can save teams from the grind of generating new ideas repeatedly.
7. Make them actionable
Once you’ve brainstormed and agreed on the ideas, it’s time to make them actionable. You can go from idea to execution by creating tasks directly from your whiteboards. You can add context to these tasks by linking to files, Docs, and more.
Ideate better and execute faster with ClickUp Whiteboards
All kinds of knowledge work rely heavily on people’s ideas. However, ideas are plenty. What differentiates successful teams is their ability to streamline and execute them consistently.
The idea board is an essential tool to achieve that. As we mentioned, the tool you use to ideate as a team often influences your thought process. Pick a tool that fits well into your current processes and doesn’t just end with ideation.
ClickUp Whiteboards is designed to make it seamless for teams to collaborate on ideas and move to execution effortlessly.
Try ClickUp for free today. Ideate with clarity and move to execution with speed.