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Creative tools > Brainwriting

When to use it | How to use it | Example | How it works | See also


When to use it

Brainwriting is particularly useful with a group of people who are somewhat reticent and would be unlikely to offer many ideas in an open group session such as Brainstorming.

It is also useful when everyone has different problems that they want to solve.

It also works well with large groups - there is no real limit to the group size.



  X        Long



      X    Psychological



        X  Group


How to use it

Give everyone a brainwriting sheet

Hand out sheets as below, with space for a problem definition at the top of the page, and rectangles below into which ideas can be written. have as many rows of rectangles as will fit on one sheet of paper. Make the space in the rectangle big enough to contain an average suggestion.





Identify problems

Each person writes a problem at the top of the page. It can be a different problem for each person and it can be all the same for everyone, for example if you are all focused on the same problem.

If the ideas are for an individual, then they may put in their name, so the page can eventually find its way back to them.

Write ideas

Now each person passes on the sheet to another person, who writes down one or more ideas to solve the problem.

You can use different schemes here, including:

  • Each person adds one idea.
  • Each person adds one row of ideas (usually four or five).
  • Each person adds as many ideas as they like.

Early ideas in particular should be very creative, as they are to act as stimuli for later problems.

Keep going until you are done

The sheets are now passed on to the next person, who adds more ideas, using the existing ideas as stimuli where possible.

The sheets are passed around until they are filled up. You can then add more sheets or stop when a page is full.



Problem: Get to the airport on time

Owner: Jane Dow

Ride on a clock Grow your own wings Take a taxi Do work at airport Never leave the airport
Set alarm on watch Hire a helicopter Order taxi beforehand Take the train instead Take a later plane


How it works

Brainwriting enables people who have ideas but are concerned about voicing them in a broader group to anonymously make them visible. They thus do not have to 'compete' with others to be heard.

It also helps that all ideas are visible and can be easily scanned to trigger new ideas.

It can speed things up because everyone is offering ideas all of the time.

See also

Brainstorming, Forced association, Nominal Group Technique

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