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Brainstorming but by writing

· team,to-sort

'Brainwriting' is a variation on the commonly known technique of 'brainstorming'.

The difference between the two is that 'brainwriting' requires all team members to first take a few minutes to silently write down their ideas or comments in response to a focus question before sharing and discussing them with other team members. This method is valuable because it gives everyone a chance to articulate their own ideas before being influenced by other team members.

One way to run the session is outlined below.

Step 1: The key question for the exercise is explained. It's important here that all team members are on the same page and so some context and definitions may be necessary.

Step 2: Each team member writes down their ideas on small pieces of paper such as post-it notes or index cards. Only one idea should be written on each piece of paper and placed face down in the centre of the table.

Step 3: After a nominated time (say five minutes) or when the ideas have stopped flowing, team members read other ideas at random and write down any further ideas that may be triggered.

Step 4: The ideas are read and categorised. A list, with similar ideas amalgamated and repetition removed, is generated for consideration by the whole team.

Step 5: After discussion and clarification as necessary, team members conduct a vote. Recognising that more than one idea may have merit, often team members are given a limited number of dot-stickers (say three or five) to assign to the idea(s) that they are interested in the most. For example, if only one idea appeals, the team member may use all of their dots on this idea; if they are divided between a few ideas, they may share their dots out across these ideas.

Step 6: Summation of the dots on each idea will allow the team to move forward with a chosen idea or ideas. Discarded ideas should be examined for usefulness and any potential for combination with chosen ideas.