As you already know, brainstorming is one of the most-powerful creativity tools available today. A simple brainstorming session can be incredibly productive, especially when you need to find new directions and possibilities for your organization. Businesses that get stuck in a rut doing the same old thing are unlikely to thrive into the future, which is why creativity tools like brainstorming are so valuable. However, while brainstorming is an excellent tool, it does have its limitations. There are very few rules that are to be followed when brainstorming, meaning that you may find your sessions wind up wandering off in a number of different directions.
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Every second Tuesday, we send a newsletter with useful techniques on front-end and UX. Brainwriting is an easy alternative or a complement to face-to-face brainstorming, and it often yields more ideas in less time than traditional group brainstorming. Because brainstorming is a well-known and popular technique, I generally begin with a discussion on how to do good brainstorming, something that is very hard, and then introduce brainwriting as a worthy, and sometimes preferred, alternative to brainstorming.
Brainwriting is simple. Rather than ask participants to yell out ideas a serial process , you ask them to write down their ideas about a particular question or problem on sheets of paper for a few minutes; then, you have each participant pass their ideas on to someone else, who reads the ideas and adds new ideas.
After a few minutes, you ask the participants to pass their papers to others, and the process repeats. After 10 to 15 minutes, you collect the sheets and post them for immediate discussion. Image credits: opensourceway. Brainwriting can be used to understand how different groups view an issue. You might try to conduct separate brainwriting sessions with different internal groups. In my experience, the differences emerge more strongly through brainwriting than through face-to-face brainstorming.
Brainwriting can help you get a better understanding of how different groups or departments view a problem. While brainwriting is easy and accepted in many environments after a single demonstration of its productivity, you might want to avoid brainwriting in a few situations. There may be times when your colleagues find it difficult to express ideas in writing.
If you are working on complex issues, then you might want to opt for small group brainstorming or another ideation technique that allows for clarification and discussion. You might want to avoid brainwriting if you are in a culture with strict rules about which methods and procedures to follow. People who follow a highly structured product design and development process might find brainwriting a bit too radical.
There are several approaches to brainwriting: interactive brainwriting, the method, the idea card method, and the remote spreadsheet method. In brainwriting , six people are given a form and asked to provide three ideas for solving a problem in five minutes. Participants are invited to consider out-of-the-box ideas and to combine ideas with others. The ideas are written in silence to prevent participants from influencing each other. After the first five minutes, each participant passes a form like the one below to the adjacent participant, who then reviews the ideas and adds new ones.
A brainwriting form. This approach to brainwriting gets participants to write ideas continuously on sticky notes or cards and, as they finish a card, to place it off to the side. When other participants need inspiration, they can take a few cards from their colleagues and continue. Each card would hold only one idea. If you want to conduct remote brainwriting, you can use Google Spreadsheet as a brainwriting tool.
As each person enters an idea in a cell, others would see the idea and use that as inspiration for new ideas. This process can foster a bit of mild competition if done in real time and can also be fun. You could use affinity diagramming to organize and interpret the data from brainwriting sessions. Large view. Brainwriting is easy to sell in most organizations and client settings.
There are five ways to sell brainwriting:. The resources listed below are a mix of videos, articles and books. My recent book, Brainstorming and Beyond , has a full chapter on brainwriting and on brainstorming and braindrawing.
In brief, it consists of 6 participants supervised by a moderator who are required to write down 3 ideas on a specific worksheet within 5 minutes, this is also the etymology of the methodology's name. The outcome after 6 rounds, during which participants swap their worksheets passing them on to the team member sitting at their right, is ideas generated in 30 minutes. The technique is applied in various sectors but mainly in business , marketing , design , writing as well as everyday real life situations. One of the main advantages of using brainwriting is that it is a very straightforward method and therefore is easy and quick to learn.
In every PoDojo workshop, on day 2 we create a product. In our class we begin with an introduction to Design Thinking, specifically empathising with the customer. One of the things we have discovered about product creation is that without initiating play , we have no innovation, and conversely given permission to play, we see all sorts of tools being used in various ways towards creating products to delight users. The idea behind Brainwriting is to have 6 participants write down 3 ideas on a worksheet in a 5 minute timebox, hence the name. After each participant takes a turn jotting down the 3 ideas, they pass the on to either contribute to the existing idea, or start anew.