Flowchart Diagrams as a Visual Brainstorming Tool

“You can feel creative tension when you sense the freedom to be creative, the harmony not via compliance only, but through brainstorming.” ― Pearl Zhu

Ideas – their extent, depth, scope, and expanse – can challenge, elevate, and spur the power of the human imagination. Great ideas have often emerged in moments of idle solitude or in the course of surveying established norms, mechanisms, patterns, and processes. The men and women of modern commerce can choose to brainstorm as part of efforts to conceive and develop ideas that enable revolutionary new processes, act as a handmaiden in the incremental evolution of legacy systems and mechanisms, and breathe life into novel products, services, and paradigms. However, the ability to focus the human mind remains elusive for most individuals; hence, analytical tools such as flowchart diagrams can assist in organizing the various aspects of an inchoate idea. The use of a flowchart as a visual brainstorming tool follows the above assertion. Such a diagram can assist creative individuals map the contours of a nascent idea and explore its various facets through the expanse of a visual tapestry.

A disorganized flowchart can serve as a test bed for deploying the random powers of the human mind in pursuit of harnessing a fleeting idea. Such an instance of a visual brainstorming tool can essentially emerge as a collage of different components powering diverse lines of thought that could coalesce into an idea. For instance, a business operator could develop a flowchart to explore new mechanisms that could redefine and reinforce the form and conventional practice underlining the concept of corporate social responsibility. The various stages of the illustration could emerge in a haphazard manner to include potential impact on business profitability, driving a greater emphasis on preserving the natural environment, serving the underprivileged, eradicating the scourge of hunger, enshrining new values in corporate practices, harnessing the latent power of human intelligence, etc. The emerging illustration may appear as an exercise in random thoughts; however, connecting the various stages of this visual brainstorming tool could give shape and form to hitherto unexplored aspects of CSR that could distinguish the sponsor organization.

Value propositions represent part of commercial narratives that seek to market or sell a new product or service. Flowcharts can help a business operator map a unique value proposition that differs from the cut-and-dried offerings proffered by competitors. The designers of such an illustration could list various elements of a product’s value proposition in the visual plane. Such an illustration could offer four main stages, complemented by a raft of different sub-stages that emerge from each parent stage. For instance, the manufacturer of a new breed of vacuum cleaners could spotlight the technical prowess of a new product; educate consumers on the short operating cycles of said product; and other attributes such as large dust bags, low power consumption, easy portability, new-age form factor of the product, easy storage, etc. These, when contained inside the expanse of a visual brainstorming tool could help drive the commercial message into the minds of most consumers, thereby elevating the potential of selling more units of the product in each target market. Additional stages inside the diagram could emerge when designers add comment designed to spotlight the benefits that accrue to the average consumer.

Team effort remains a key enabling factor when designers deploy flowcharts as a visual brainstorming tool. Pursuant to this, a team of designers and their assistants could develop different sections of an idea through a shared flowchart. The various sections could help team persons identify the goals of a business, review actions underway toward said goals, ideate on new sets of actions and implementations to accelerate goal achievement, align the actions of different team persons, and brainstorm fresh ideas to boost the complete process. The flowchart may depict various lines of independent thought; efforts designed to drive integration of the output of design teams; various corrections and refinements implemented in revision modes; locations of dispute resolution; and the shape and form of final output. Such a diagram, when completed, offers a clear picture of the various mechanisms undertaken to achieve goals, and spotlights the importance of collaboration between teams and individuals. Additionally, this technique imparts speed and momentum to a design project, while describing interesting instances of successful project delivery through calibrated collaboration.

Questions, queries, and different lines of interrogation could form the sinews of a flowchart when the diagram is deployed as a visual brainstorming tool. Such elements could interrogate the various aspects of an idea (or suggestion or proposition) when deployed intelligently in the visual plane. For instance, a business operator could posit a problem at the center of a flowchart and seek resolution through ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘how’, etc. Each of these stages of interrogation, when positioned in the space offered by the expanse of a flowchart, can help advance the cause of resolving the central problem. Essentially, such a diagram serves as a visual brainstorming tool by interacting with the intellect and experience of designers, process experts, external consultants, subject matter experts, etc. In doing so, the flowchart emerges as a repository of the years of wisdom and knowledge accumulated by persons listed above.

Color-coded silos of information could act as precursors to flowcharts and emerge as a visual brainstorming tool in their own right. Such an exercise could assist designers organize and assemble sparks, thoughts, and inputs that lead to the development of an idea. In line with this, designers and process operators could sketch vertical sections, populate these with information, and create the outlines of a flowchart illustration. Each silo could define inputs on a specific theme: such as viability in terms of pure business, potential to boost profit generation, elicit positive response from stakeholders, decimate an ongoing business problem, expand market footprint for the sponsor, etc. The use of colors and tints allows designers to distinguish the various components of the visual brainstorming tool while focusing all effort to the development of an anticipated idea. In an advanced stage of generation, such a flowchart could spotlight connections between the various stages, thereby establishing the final contours of an idea. We note this illustration could serve as a building block to smarter business solutions that address visible gaps in specific markets.

The questioning of an assumption could serve as a starting point when designers embark on projects using flowcharts as a visual brainstorming tool. This technique could help a business operator overhaul key sections of an enterprise in pursuit of avowed commercial objectives. For instance, a business operator with an established customer base could seek to expand the market for its products and services by sketching flowcharts that query past strategies of business expansion. The various stages of the illustration could include sales targets for future quarters and pose questions on the means and strategies to achieve the targets. Creative expressions of human ingenuity could emerge inside these stages, thereby providing visual cues for readers and reviewers. Various accoutrements to the main stages could emerge as pointers inside this instance of a visual brainstorming tool. In addition, separate segments could position the details of planning, technology, manpower, strategy, marketing outreach, etc. The completed illustration could emerge as a roadmap that allows the business sponsor to remove restrictive assumptions and allow the enterprise to unfurl its latent potential.

Flowcharts as a visual brainstorming tool emerges as a highly intelligible, useful, and effective one and it would make business sense to gain expertise in the making of this tool. There are so many other uses for this diagram, which we have highlighted in the past and will continue to explore going forward as well.