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Exploring ideas




20-30 minutes or longer depending on the chosen form of brainwriting

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  • Pen and paper

  • Sticky notes or a brainwriting template

  • Size A4 or A3 sheets of paper or a whiteboard or a wall (optional)

What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?


Brainwriting is a quiet form of generating ideas together and getting inspired by the ideas of others without judgement. The generated ideas are discussed once all idea rounds have been completed. Brainwriting gives all participants a chance to use their voice in writing and offer ideas. Although being a group ideation tool, it can also be adapted for individual work.

Steps how to use this tool in practice

The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group.


Organise the brainwriting session on the identified researched topic, prepare the room and send invitations. Decide the structure of the brainwriting session, that is number of brainwriting rounds and participants, and the session duration. The number of brainwriting rounds and participants is free. The most popular version is 6-3-5, where 6 participants generate 3 ideas during 5 brainwriting rounds.


Start the brainwriting session by explaining the purpose of the session and the researched topic to generate ideas for, and distribute pens, and brainwriting sheets, one for each, or sticky notes to participants. If using sticky notes, you can attach them to a sheet of paper or a whiteboard or wall. In such case, make sure you have enough whiteboards or big sheets on the walls. Remind participants to remain silent during the process.


Ideation 1: The participants provide 3 solution ideas for the researched problem in one minute. One the minutes is over and each participant has written 3 ideas, the sheets are passed on to the next person. These can also be collected and redistributed randomly to participants.


Repeat the ideation round and brainwriting sheet exchange as many times as needed.


The ideas are discussed together at the end of the session. The idea sheets might be projected on a wall so that everyone can see them, or, if using sticky notes, may be groups into similar themes during the break, or if on the wall or whiteboard, walked around and discussed. The ideas for the next Phase, Alternative prototypes, are selected at this point.

Tips and hints for using this tool

How to do brainwriting alone

  • In case of doing brainwriting alone, you can have breaks between different rounds and this way approach the identified problem with fresh eyes each time.

Other tools of this phase

An active and exploratory way to generate ideas


An inspiration board for ideating solutions

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A group ideation tool


A fictional description of a typical customer.


Drawing parallels with analogies for ideas.


An ideation matrix of service aspects.

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Creating ideas together with customers and stakeholders.

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