25 November 2005

Group brainstorming with index cards

Douglas Johnston, creator of the DIY planner has a great method for group brainstorming with index cards. Douglas says he's used the process several times to good effect.

It's designed to ensure that a broad range of ideas is collected in the shortest possible time.

Here's how it works:

1. Set your group or team around a table. Give each one a stack of index cards. The problem or issue at hand is explained by the facilitator. If people want to discuss their ideas, stop them. (This may not be easy.) The important thing is not to "taint" their creativity with only one or two threads that might stifle new ideas.

2. In relative silence, each person takes a card and writes down one idea. He or she then passes the card to the person on the right.

3. That person reads the card and uses it to generate a new idea. He or she then turns the first card upside down in a stack, and passes the new card to the right.

4. The process of writing new ideas and passing to the person on the right continues for a set amount of time, perhaps ten minutes.

5. At the end, the facilitator gathers the cards. Each idea is read alound, and the cards are then arranged and grouped on a whiteboard or wall, with duplicates discarded. This is used to stimulate discussion or more ideas, preferably on another whiteboard or some mind-mapping software on a projector.

Thanks Douglas!

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