Ideation Techniques: Mind Mapping
You may already be familiar with Mind Mapping, an idea generation tool defined by Wikipedia as "...a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing." Mind Maps of some sort or another have been around a long time; however, author Tony Buzan is credited with developing the well-known, modern approach.
Mind Mapping is an excellent group ideation technique, one of many we teach in our SmartStorming training. Specifically, it can help groups (and individuals, by the way) build directly and tangentially off of a given thought. The initial idea quickly leads to expanded concepts, or in totally new directions which can then be expanded themselves.
Obviously Mind Maps can be created by hand. But there are also quite a few software applications for Mind Mapping, which can also be used very successfully in a SmartStorming session. One very simple one is FreeMind, which is, in fact, FREE. You can download the software for both Windows and Mac here: http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Download. (Note: the program is Java-based. We have no association with the developers and make no claims as to the quality or value of the software.)
Here's a brief video demo of the software.