Brainwriting

Brainwriting is a creativity technique for idea development in groups, where thoughts are written down on paper or digitally. Each group member writes down an idea and then passes it on to the next member, who modifies it or adds a new one, until all members have completed the list of ideas. This method promotes collaboration and the exchange of ideas among group members and gives everyone the opportunity to express their ideas without interruption or pressure.
Brainwriting

What is Brainwriting? 

Brainwriting is a method for developing ideas in a group in which each participant writes down ideas and passes them on to others to complement or modify. 

Overview of Brainwriting 

  • Brainwriting is a method for idea development in groups. 
  • Ideas are written down and passed on in brainwriting. 
  • The process typically begins with a question or topic. 
  • Brainwriting encourages collaboration and idea exchange within the group, allowing all members to express their ideas without interruption or pressure. 

How does brainwriting work? 

Brainwriting is a method in which groups collect ideas. Unlike brainstorming, ideas are not generated verbally but in a written format. Each participant writes down their ideas on a sheet of paper and passes it on to the next participant. This person can further develop the existing idea and add another one until all participants have read and worked on all the ideas. 

In the business context, brainwriting can be an effective method for generating ideas. By exchanging ideas in writing, a group of employees can gather a variety of perspectives and thoughts. Companies can use brainwriting to develop new products or services, solve problems or challenges, or develop new business strategies. 

To ensure that everyone can contribute their ideas equally, it’s important for participants to write down their ideas independently, without beeing influenced by others. A clear structure and guidelines can also help to ensure the effectiveness of brainwriting. 

The evaluation of brainwriting should be transparent and comprehensible. In order to create a ranking of ideas the collected ideas should be assessed and prioritised based on criteria such as feasibility, originality, or usefulness. Open discussion and collective decision-making can help to ensure that all participants can identify with the results. 

The difference between Brainwriting and Brainstorming 

Brainwriting and brainstorming are methods for developing ideas in groups. 

  • In brainstorming, ideas are found through verbal communication. Each member of the group verbally shares their ideas, and others can react to or be inspired by them. There are no specific guidelines for how many ideas each participant should have or how long they can be discussed for. 
  • In brainwriting, participants write down their ideas and pass them on to another person. Each person then adds to or modifies the idea of others. The process continues until each participant has read and worked on all the ideas. 

The main difference between brainwriting and brainstorming is that brainwriting uses written communication, while brainstorming involves spontaneous verbal communication. 

Methods of Brainwriting 

  • 6-3-5 Method: Participants write down three ideas on a sheet of paper for six rounds and then pass it on to the next person, who adds to or develops the ideas. 
  • Group Brainwriting: All participants write their ideas on a board or whiteboard and pass it on to the next person, who expands or improves the ideas. 
  • Silent Brainwriting: Each participant writes ideas on cards or paper and passes them on to the next person until all ideas are collected. 
  • Online Brainwriting: An online platform is used to collect and develop ideas. 
  • Round Robin Brainwriting: Each participant writes down an idea and passes the sheet to the next person, who expands or improves the idea. 

These methods can be adapted or combined depending on group size, objectives, and available time. 

Evaluation of Brainwriting 

After brainwriting, a joint evaluation is usually conducted. The ideas generated in brainwriting are examined, assessed, and prioritised. 

Various methods can be used depending on group size and objectives. Ideas are often evaluated based on criteria such as feasibility, originality, or usefulness, and are then discussed either in groups or individually. 

Another option is to use evaluation forms, in which participants rate ideas based on various criteria. These forms are then summarised and evaluated to create a ranking of ideas. 

It’s important that the evaluation is transparent and comprehensible so that all participants are in agreement. Open discussion and collective decision-making can help to ensure that all participants can identify with the outcome. 

Advantages of Brainwriting 

Brainwriting has several advantages over other idea development methods, the most significant being: 

  • Equal opportunity for everyone to express their ideas without interruption and pressure, leading to higher participation and creativity. 
  • Ideas are formulated clearly and precisely through writing, resulting in higher quality and clarity of ideas. 
  • Brainwriting promotes collaboration and idea exchange among participants, as everyone can read and build upon each other’s ideas. 
  • The written format allows participants to review and develop ideas later, leading to better selection of the best ideas. 
  • A higher number of ideas can be generated, as each participant can jot down multiple ideas before passing them on. 

Disadvantages of Brainwriting 

While brainwriting has many benefits, there are also some disadvantages: 

  • Brainwriting can be more time-consuming than other idea development methods, as the process involves writing, and participants need more time to put their ideas on paper. 
  • There is a risk of losing the creative spark, as the exchange of ideas occurs in writing. Spontaneous insights that often occur in brainstorming might not emerge as easily. 
  • The exchange of ideas might be slower, as participants have to wait for ideas to be passed on before contributing their own. 
  • It might be more challenging to have a discussion or debate about ideas, as the written form might not be as spontaneous and stimulating as verbal discussions. 

Conclusion 

Brainwriting has many advantages, including higher participation and creativity, clearer and more precise idea formulations, improved collaboration and idea exchange, the ability to generate and review more ideas, and it reduces the effect of dominant voices. However, brainwriting can also be more time-consuming, potentially leading to the loss of spontaneous insights, slower idea exchange, and challenges in creating dynamic discussions due to its written nature. 

Brainwriting: Design and process 

The 6-3-5 Method: 

The 6-3-5 method is a creativity and idea development technique applied in groups. The name of the method refers to its basic structure: Six participants write down three ideas each on a sheet of paper within 5 minutes. Then, they pass the sheet to the next participant, who reads the ideas of the previous participant and adds another three ideas. This process is repeated six times, resulting in a total of 108 ideas collected. The method aims to foster rapid and broad idea generation and improve collaboration and inspiration within the group. The ideas can later be evaluated and developed further. 

Number of Participants: 

There is no fixed rule regarding the number of participants in brainwriting. However, it’s recommended that the group consists of at least five to seven people to generate a sufficient number of ideas. 

Duration of Brainwriting: 

The duration of a brainwriting session depends on various factors such as the number of participants, the number of ideas to generate, and the time available to each person. Generally, a brainwriting session lasts about 30 to 60 minutes. 

Selection of the Best Ideas: 

Various methods can be used to select the best ideas generated during brainwriting. One option is participant voting. Another option is evaluation by a jury or panel of experts. 

Ensuring Equal Participation: 

One approach is to have each participant jot down a predetermined number of ideas and then pass them on. This ensures that each person can contribute an equal number of ideas. 

Online Brainwriting: 

Yes, brainwriting can also be conducted online. Various tools and platforms enable real-time written idea development. 

Tools and Materials for Successful Brainwriting: 

For successful brainwriting, participants typically need pens and paper or worksheets. For online sessions, appropriate platforms or tools for written idea development are needed. 

Ensuring Precise Formulations: 

It’s recommended that each participant formulates their ideas clearly and precisely, adding a brief explanation if necessary. Discussing the ideas together at the end of brainwriting can help clarify any uncertainties. 

Ensuring Confidentiality: 

To ensure that ideas generated in brainwriting are treated confidentially, participants can sign a confidentiality agreement or make a corresponding arrangement. It’s also helpful to build trust among participants and ensure that all information shared during brainwriting is only used for the purpose of idea development and not shared with third parties. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Brainwriting is a method for idea generation in groups. In this method, participants write down their ideas on a sheet of paper and pass it on to the next person, who further develops the idea or adds a new one. 

Brainwriting typically begins with a group of participants defining a specific question or problem they want to solve. Each group member then writes down their ideas on a sheet of paper. After a certain time (e.g., 5 minutes), each participant passes their paper to their neighbour, who reads the ideas of the previous participant and adds a new idea or develops an existing one. 
The process continues until each participant has read and worked on all the sheets of paper. In the end, all participants have a list of different ideas and suggestions. These ideas can then be discussed, developed further, and evaluated to find a solution to the original problem. 

The 6-3-5 method is a creativity and idea development method applied in groups. The name refers to its structure: Six participants write down three ideas each on a sheet of paper in 5 minutes. Then, they pass the paper to the next person, who reads the previous ideas and adds three more. This process is repeated six times, resulting in a total of 108 ideas collected. The method aims to quickly generate a broad range of ideas and improve collaboration and inspiration within the group. The ideas can later be evaluated and developed further. 

Sources

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    http://creatingminds.org/tools/brainwriting.htm
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    Last access: 27.03.2023
  • Harland Media: Kartenumlauftechnik, URL: http://www.innovationsmanagement.de/kreativitaetstechnik/kartenumlauftechnik.htm
    Last access: 27.03.2023
  • Mycoted: Brainwriting – Mycoted, URL: http://www.mycoted.com/Brainwriting
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