5 Collaboration Tools to Bring Your Next Great Idea to Life

When it comes to bringing great ideas to life—ideas that are innovative, world-changing, empire-building—chances are you’ve been lied to.

The most pervasive myth in business is that great ideas come from great individuals.

But they don’t.

As Walter Isaacson explored in his book The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution:

“Most of the innovations of the digital age were done collaboratively.

“There were a lot of fascinating people involved, some ingenious and a few even geniuses. This is … a narrative of how they collaborated and why their ability to work as teams made them even more creative.”

As surprising as it might sound, your ability to communicate, negotiate and lead other people is vastly more important than anything you do in isolation. In fact, Carnegie Institute of Technology’s research shows that a shocking 85 percent of your financial success comes from your “human engineering skills”—not from your ideas or even your intelligence.

In other words, great ideas don’t come from within, they come from without.

So to help you fire up your next great idea, here are five collaborative tools all about connecting with real people. Which is exactly where great ideas come from.

1. memit

Think about how you collaborate on research and share resources in your day-to-day life. Is it with colleagues, mentors, friends? Maybe it’s simply when you’re out and about?

memit for teams or freelancers takes the natural and organic way people connect and moves it online. At its core, memit is essentially a webclipping tool, much like Evernote or Pocket. However, two features make memit stand out.

First, memit works directly with whatever cloud-storage provider you and your company already use. This means a copy of your “memed” content—i.e., blog posts, PDFs, videos, images, emails or uploaded files—is automatically generated, stored and shared in the place you already keep the rest of your documents.

Second, memit lets you easily collaborate on research by creating themed collections and inviting entire teams or specific members to contribute. Additionally, you and your cohorts can share specific pieces of content directly from memit on social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Facebook.

collaboration tools

2. Mural.ly

Collaborating on idea creation virtually can be excruciating, especially when it comes to the early, excited and often chaotic stages of brainstorming.

This is all the more true for designers and those of us who are visual learners.

To facilitate idea creation, Mural.ly’s functions like an interactive whiteboard-meet-post-its hub and its drag-and-drop features make recording and sorting ideas feel natural.

In fact, one of Mural.ly’s best features is spatial idea sorting that lets you create visual representations to rank ideas after a brainstorming session.

collaboration tools

Real time collaboration is also a standard feature because Mariano (aka Bat), the CEO of Mural.ly, designed the tool out of his own team’s need for an “open” idea repository.

3. Wunderlist

Follow through on great ideas is different challenge altogether… especially when you’re on a deadline.

Wunderlist is a workflow tool for the more analytically minded that lets you plan, order and remind your team when tasks are due, much like Asana or Basecamp, but in a far simpler format.

Moving forward with an idea, handing off tasks and tracking project completion are elements of collaboration Wunderlist addresses. Edits and revisions can be communicated openly and creating reminders on a person-by-person basis is easy.

collaboration tools

The nicest thing about Wunderlist—probably of biggest benefit to startup teams on the go from numerous locations—is how easy it is to tag others from your mobile device(s). Creating a list and sharing it with your colleagues, friends or family can be done with a single hand.

4. Pie

What about instant or on-the-fly collaboration?

Much has been written about tools like Yammer and Skype. Pie is another excellent communication app. Think of it as an idea catalyst that’s like texting on steroids.

collaboration tools

Pie lets you share texts, images, GIFs, videos and uploaded files and integrates with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud.

What’s Pie’s best attribute? Apple Watch integration and its unique “Quick Replies” that let you send automatic replies using tap and swipe gestures. Ideas are literally communicated off the cuff using Pie and its extensions.

5. BinFire

So far we’ve focused on tools for internal collaboration. But what if you need to share progress updates and get feedback on ideas from external sources, like clients?

BinFire created a platform to do just that.

Along with many of the other features in standard workflow tools, BinFire allows you to create client-specific displays to replace cumbersome email updates or (even worse) actual meeting on the overall state of specific projects.

collaboration tools

When it comes to feedback, BinFire also has a collaborative whiteboard and PDF markup tool that makes proofing, reviewing and approving simple. Together these two features enable you to bring your ideas to visual life for customers and clients alike, as well as to pivot when course corrections are needed.

It’s not about you…

It’s like the old saying goes, “We is always more powerful than me.”

This list of tools will help you source ideas like crazy, not from scattered buckets of information, but from real people who want to connect, share, generate and catalyze ideas.

Don’t believe the lie. Sure good ideas come from individuals—but great ideas come from groups.


Aaron Orendorff is the VP of Marketing at Common Thread Collective, an ecommerce growth agency helping DTC brands scale beyond $2M-$30M. Previously, he served as Editor in Chief of Shopify Plus; his work has appeared on The New York Times, Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider and more. If you’d like to connect with Aaron, reach out via social — he’s a sucker for DMs about content marketing, bunnies, and rejection.

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