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Jon Thrower

Creativity Techniques
Creativity Techniques
Creativity Techniques
Creativity Techniques

Creativity Techniques


Brainstorming is a technique for generating large numbers of ideas, and can be done either by an individual or by a facilitated group.

When carrying out brainstorming, the following rules should be applied.

  • No criticism, of the self or of others
  • Build on other people's ideas
  • The wackier the idea, the better
  • Quantity is better than quality

Facilitating Brainstorming Sessions

Before starting have a clear idea of the problem being solved, and write it in the centre of the board or flip-chart.

Successive different brainstorming activities can produce more ideas, even if the original one ran out of steam.

Traditional Brainstorming

Conventionally, one person will write down the ideas produced by the group. Members of the group shout out their ideas.

The disadvantages of this technique are:

  • ideas may be lost
  • the group can be dominated by a few individuals
  • people have no "individual" time to generate ideas before the group session.

Sticky-Note Brainstorming

Sticky Note brainstorming works well in smaller groups where a degree of trust has already been established.

In this exercise,  a board or flip-chart is required. The problem statement is written on it.

Each participant is given a pad of post-it notes and a large marker pen (this is to limit the amount of writing that can be fitted onto the pad, and ensure it is legible at a distance)

Each participant has about five minutes at the beginning to produce their own ideas. They write these ideas down on the post-its, one idea per sheet.

They are then asked to select a specific number to place on the chart. No discussion is permitted, and each person takes it in turn to read out their post-its and stick them to the board. Duplicate ideas are discarded.

Discussion should be kept to a minimum.

Other participants continue to write post-its, possibly triggered by the ones presented. The facilitator continues to ask people up to present their post-its until all post-its have been presented.


During the sticky-note brainstorming process, ideas with a common theme can be grouped together. This grouping can change and evolve as the ideas are presented. This may help with subsequent processes for down-selecting ideas, or follow-on brainstorming activities.


A reversal is a directed brainstorming process, where the participants are guided to come up with ideas by considering the problem in a particular way.

In this case, participants are invited to come up with ideas that are the opposite of what is actually wanted. (For example, if the problem is "how can we increase sales", the reversal becomes "how can we decrease sales")

Participants brain storm on this for a few minutes, or until ideas are running out.

The question is then reversed again, and each of the existing ideas examined to see how doing the opposite could address the original problem.

Jon Thrower © 2007
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