10 Innovation tools and templates for teams

Ideation may come more naturally for others, but when it comes to innovating together, many will struggle to produce good quality ideas or lack a process for making them visible, not to speak of putting them into action. In the heat of the action, brilliant ideas may not get the stage and the most creative minds may not be the loudest voices in the room. The ideal way to go about an ideation session is to create an environment that breaks people out of their run-of-the-mill, traditional mindsets. What are the top innovation tools for teams?

In the insight phase of the innovation process, it might help to go wide, exploring a broad range of perspectives and make it a structured team activity. This might help in reframing the way you view challenges and opportunities. We wrote earlier about tips for better brainstorming, so, we are going to look at concrete tools, templates, and processes to improve innovation in this post. Here are the top ten ways you can organize and improve ideation sessions with your team to get more out of them.

1) Mind Mapping –

Let’s start with this basics. This one everyone should know, and the popularity of the simple tool speaks volumes about easy adaptation and usefulness. It is a visual tool used for structuring thoughts and results in a hierarchal diagram of all the elements in question. Check out a free resource.

2) Parallel Thinking Process –

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono is also a classic and a great tool for igniting parallel thinking. The tool challenges your instinctive approach to decision making and steers you away from your habitual thinking style.

3) Storyboarding –

Storyboarding is very different from the conventional ways of brainstorming. It is a highly visual and non-linear way of ideation. Also makes a great technique to ideate if you are not sure how to structure things from the start. Storyboarding can be a very effective team activity with the help of storytelling games, applications or good old felt tip pens and charts. Learn more about the technique.

4) Blue Ocean Canvas –

Business innovation does not need to be a wacky process of propeller heads. With the Blue Ocean Strategy Canvas, you can create systematic business innovation by understanding the market blind spots.

5) Gamestorming –

Gamestorming is a holistic collaboration approach that makes it possible for everyone to participate and become a part of the creative processes in an organisation. One of our favourites, gamestorming.com has a long list of free resources for developing game-based ideation sessions.

6) Business Model Canvas –

If you have not used it yet, this is the go-to template for any entrepreneur or business innovator to forget your traditional business plan and visualise your business model together.


Scamper exploits the power of asking the right questions when building or improving on something that you have already got. The model is actually a mnemonic and each letter stands for a related question about your project or the problem at hand: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to another use, Eliminate, Reverse. Learn more about the technique here.

8) Analogy Thinking –

Analogy thinking is a great way to explore success factors from a business model similar to yours or even that is far, and apply them in your own context. Learn more about the technique here. The link includes a free template.

9) Opposite Thinking –

As the name gives it away, opposite thinking is not about taking the straight road to ideation. The process essentially involves creating problems instead of solutions. This helps to build a process that is intuitive to possible challenges that lie ahead. A popular application of this brainstorming model is the reverse approach to security, wherein you hack your own company, to prevent server intrusion.

10) Trend Matrix –

In order to arrive at the right approach to innovation, Trend matrix is a great way to asses your current operations environment. Understandably. a radical approach to innovation is more relevant in a dynamic environment as opposed to incremental innovation. The matrix helps to sort trends and their impact on the industry. Alongside that, it also establishes how they relate to each other to help foster a better understanding of the industry. Here is a free template.

+BONUS! Insight Cards on Innovation

We couldn’t have possibly left it out, could we?
Our Insight Cards on Innovation are based on Powerful Questions and are great for inspiring dialogue on business innovation in teams.

As much as it may appear that ideation is about breaking free, it’s good to have a defined process. Or even a shared tool before you start the team activity. There are naturally many other creative ways out there to organise and structure your brainstorming sessions that are not listed above. That’s why we have made this list of 10 brilliant innovation tips for teams. Let us know, which ones you have tried and works well for your team in the comments section.

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