What is brain writing?

Brain writing is an alternative method to brainstorming that tries to encourage a more uniform participation within a group. Like brainstorming, it is designed to generate lots and lots of ideas in a short amount of time.

Brain writing is particularly useful with a group of people with a variety of personalities, where introvert participants may be unlikely to offer many ideas in an open group session such as Brainstorming. It also works well with large groups - there is no real limit to the group size.

Brainwriting Guidelines

  • DEFER JUDGMENT: No bad ideas
  • QUANTITY: More is better
  • FREEWHEEL: Wild ideas
  • PIGGYBACK IDEAS: Ideas must be different from previous, but are encouraged to play off ideas of others


  1. Write down a list of ideas on the topic, running down the left hand side of the paper.
  2. Number your top 3 ideas
  3. Pass your paper to the person seated on your left
  4. Start a new column next to the previous person’s list – listing ideas on the topic provided
    • You are encouraged to look at the previous person’s list and build upon their ideas –this may include:
      • Joining two or more of their ideas;
      • Simplifying one or more of their ideas; or
      • Simply jotting down an idea triggered from one in the previous column.
    • Your ideas must not be the same as the ones you jotted down in the previous round or the same as the ones on the previous person’s list.
  5. Repeat this process until the original paper returns back to the initial person.
  6. Each person is now to take a moment looking through all the ideas generated on the page, come up with anymore.
  7. Once the ideas are exhausted, look at your paper and select the top 3 or 5 ideas (depending on the size of the group) from each person.
  8. Collate and debate.

Get Fancy with the 6-3-5 method

6-3-5 Brain writing is a particular form of brain writing. The method is specifically meant to overcome the possible creativity barriers brought up by issues such as interpersonal conflicts and different cultural backgrounds.


  1. This method is effective with an ideal amount of participants of 4-7.
  2. The topic of the session should be narrowed down to a problem statement (the problem statement from a Funnel Camp would be ideal for this method), this is announced and written on top of the Idea Form. This is a worksheet that has to be handed out to each participant and consists of a grid where the heading of the columns are Idea 1, Idea 2 and Idea 3 and the rows identify the name of who has contributed to that particular suggestion.
  3. At this point, the session is ready to start and participants are given 5 minutes to complete the first row and write down the first ideas working in silence. These may be expressed in any graphical form: written, drawn, through a symbol or however the author prefers.
  4. The supervisor signals the end of time, and the sheet is passed on to the right participant. Now the process is repeated and each participant is free to get inspired from the idea he reads on the sheet written by his neighbour and contribute to them by integrating or completing them, or decide to ignore them and start a new one from scratch.
  5. The process goes on until the worksheet is completely filled in but if the supervisor deems it necessary, the time for each round may be extended to a maximum of 10 minutes.
  6. The conclusion of the brainstorming session is a preliminary screening of the ideas that have been gathered where exact duplicates are deleted, and a team evaluation perhaps using theNominal Group Technique or Prioritisation Matrices to select 1 to 3 ideas the group can focus on.