Brainwriting vs. Brainstorming

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Mar 28, 2012 in , , | No Comments


In certain courses, students are often asked to form groups to “brainstorm”–is it productive?

Whether a group session is productive, or not, can heavily depend on the individuals in the group itself. If what transpires is a group free-for-all: personality clashes, control freaks try to take over, bruised egos left in the wake–it’s been a total waste of time. One study, by Peter Heslin, a business professor at Southern Methodist University and author of the study, believes “brainwriting” might be the better answer. Professor Heslin stated, “When you brainstorm, people have to wait a couple of minutes to allow others to talk before they can reveal their ideas…people will lose confidence and start thinking their ideas are unworthy or crazy.” He admits that brainwriting takes discipline, but the benefits are worth it.

Here’s how it works:

1) The group sits at a table, everyone with a different colored pen and with pieces of paper. Each person writes an idea, then passes it to the person on their right.

2) Each group member reads the idea(s) on the paper received, then adds their idea to it. No idea? No problem. Just pass the paper along.

3) When a paper has 4 to 5 ideas on it, put it in the center of the table, then it’s time for the group to analyze them. Each idea should be considered.

4) All members of the group picks their favorites, the most popular are recorded.

*Information from “How to Brainstorm: Group Free-For-Alls Can Stifle Creativity” by ChiChi Madu, Psychology Today.



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