Designing the World of Digital Experience

Generating Ideas: Brainwriting

Photo Credit Mike Oliveri | Used under Creative Commons

I’ve been looking into different ways to make brainstorming sessions better and came across a method that’s used to generate more ideas faster called Brainwriting.

It works best at the beginning of a brainstorm session by having people write down their ideas then have those ideas systematically share them with the group.

Write first, then talk.

Improving upon the brainstorm process, writing eliminates unproductive talking at first that takes time away from fresh idea generation.

Why Braingwriting works:

In Brainwriting, the playing field is evened because all ideas receive equal treatment and allows for anonymous simultaneous ideas to be created.  For introverted participants, this works well because it eliminates anxiety from the face-to-face structure of brainstorming.

On the other hand, brainstorming is susceptible to the “loudmouth hog syndrome” which is when one or two people dominate the group conversation and wind up steering the direction of an ideation session.

Having the idea sheets posted on the wall for debate triggers new ideas that build upon – they can create revisions and combine similar concepts.

How Brainwriting works:

  1. Bring participants together and introduce the process.
  2. Provide a clear problem statement to be solved.
  3. Ask each person to write ideas down on paper for a few minutes
  4. Ask them to pass their paper to someone else who shares the ideas out loud with the group and adds new ideas.
  5. Rinse & Repeat – Continue passing the papers around for another 10-15 minutes
  6. At the end of the session, collect all the papers and post them for group discussion.

Further Reading: “Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration” by Leigh Thompson

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