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Brainwriting

> Explore and brainstorm together

Each participant starts by writing 3 ideas about the given issue on different Boards. After 5 minutes, everyone switches boards and contributes by picking up on ideas already put forward by others. A group of 6 participants can generate 108 ideas in just 30 minutes! This activity is also known as the 6-3-5 method.

Pre-requisites

You’ll need to prepare one Board for each brainwriting participant (name the Board after the participant for more clarity later). Configure the Boards in direct mode with as many categories (rounds) as participants.

We recommend preparing one Board and then duplicating it.

For the participants to switch Boards, you’ll have to plan to start all your boards at the beginning of the session.

Activity settings Board

  • Activity format: Direct
  • Categories: 1 ‘Round X’ category per participant
  • Arrange one board per participant

Process

1

Presentation

Explain the issue and make sure the group understands it.

Remind participants of the brainwriting format: 3 ideas per round, a round lasts 5 minutes, when those 5 minutes are up each participant proceeds to the next Board until they’re back to the start.

Remind the group about the rules: no judging activities suggested and no conversation for the next 30 minutes. The participants must draw inspiration from and react to suggestions already made.

Prepare a stopwatch on a phone or third-party site to track the rounds.

2

Exploration

Each participant writes 3 ideas on their first Board.

After 5 minutes, each participant joins in on the next board. Things get going again for another 5 minutes: participants read the ideas already added to the Board and respond by suggesting 3 new ideas.

Repeat this process until the participants are back to their original Board.

3

Selection

If you want to take things further with the group:

  • Identify and gather together ideas in groups by likeness

  • Hold a voting session (see the @Dotmocracy activity) so that participants can prioritise the ideas that seem most important, innovative, etc.

4

Summary

Reveal the results and discuss them as a group.

Plan another activity (or another session) to polish the ideas and determine next steps.

Suggestions and variations

When choosing ideas, try not to dismiss the wildest ones. At this stage, they’re just the seeds of an idea, they’ll improve with some work later on

It’s important that no discussion takes place in steps 2 and 3

It’s important that participants draw inspiration from the existing ideas for expressing new ones.

Activity Board
5 to 30 min
Less than 10
Intermediate
Exploration
Generate the most ideas in the shortest time.
This variation on brainstorming allows participants to build on other people’s ideas to suggest new ones without speaking – which is great for shyer participants.