Brainwriting can generate a lot of ideas by building upon others ideas. Using just pen and paper, this exercise asks participants to pass their ideas onto other to expand upon.

What you'll need

  • Pens
  • Paper

Brainwriting can help generate a lot of different ideas very quickly within just a few groups. It utilises the different ways people can think about a problem and encourages people to build upon others solutions.

First, you need a clear problem statement. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Write that at the top of a pice of paper, or have it written on a whiteboard, so everyone can see it. On paper, draw a simple 3×3 grids with the horizontal axis boxes labelled idea 1, 2 and 3. Label the vertical boxes person 1, person 2 and person 3.

Ask your participants to write their possible solutions to the problem in the top row of boxes. If they come up with only one, that’s ok; give them up to 5 minutes. Then ask them to pass the paper clockwise onto the next person, and ask them to build upon the previous solution, or come up with a new one.

A brainwriting matrix where ideas are written horizontally, and participants labelled vertically

Download the brainwriting template (pdf)

The exercise can refine solutions to a point where they might be usable straight away, or can generate diverse solutions giving you a great basis for a separate exploring workshop, or the next stage in the current one.