6-3-5 Brainwriting

As you already know, brainstorming is one of the most-powerful creativity tools available today. A simple brainstorming session can be incredibly productive, especially when you need to find new directions and possibilities for your organization. Businesses that get stuck in a rut doing the same old thing are unlikely to thrive into the future, which is why creativity tools like brainstorming are so valuable.

6-3-5 Brainwriting

However, while brainstorming is an excellent tool, it does have its limitations. There are very few rules that are to be followed when brainstorming, meaning that you may find your sessions wind up wandering off in a number of different directions. This can be useful on occasion, but you may also need to have creativity sessions that are more focused on solving a specific problem. When that is the case, turning to 6-3-5 brainwriting is a wise choice.

The Idea

It can be difficult to brainstorm in a group as many people will feel pressured and nervous when trying to present their ideas clearly to others. Often, traditional group brainstorming sessions are dominated by one or two people, with everyone else winding up in the background. It is usually the loudest and most outgoing people who have their ideas heard, which may or may not lead to a positive outcome for the organization as a whole.

Brainwriting Versus Brainstorming

To get around this problem, you can implement the process of 6-3-5 brainwriting. Each of the three numbers included in the title of this system represents a different element of the process. The list below highlights the basics –

  • The ‘six’ in the title of this method refers to the number of people involved in the brainwriting process. There are going to be six people tasked with developing ideas to solve a given problem, in addition to one person who is going to serve as the moderator (for a total of seven).
  • During each round of the brainwriting session, each person involved is going to be asked to come up with three ideas. These ideas will be written down on a worksheet (more on the worksheet later). While it is common to simply write out the ideas that come to mind, some applications may call for ideas to be drawn or otherwise represented visually.
  • Five minutes are going to be allotted for each stage of this process, during which each of the six people will need to come up with three ideas. While this time limit is helpful to keep people focused and to prevent the session from taking up too much time, it can be altered to suit the needs of your organization specifically. For instance, if you are trying to solve a particularly difficult problem, it may make sense to bump up the time limit slightly.

As you can see, this is a relatively simple process when you break it down into its three components. With six people participating actively in the brainwriting process, three ideas per round, and five minutes for each round, you can generate a tremendous amount of creativity within a very short period of time.

Setting the Stage

To get started with 6-3-5 brainwriting, you will first need to have a problem that must be solved. By carefully and accurately defining this problem, you should be able to generate more-relevant ideas during the session. Much of the success of this process is going to come down to how well you define your problem, so take as much time as necessary on that step before getting started.

Getting Started with 6-3-5 Brainwriting

One other point that needs to be taken care of before you get started is ensuring that you have six people who are qualified to address the problem at hand. The people you select to take part in this process should all have knowledge of the issue that you are facing, and they should all have experience in this area. Picking the right people is another big step toward a successful conclusion, as those with the right experience are going to be the most likely to develop helpful solutions.

Putting It into Action

With everything ready to go, it is now time to go ahead and get started with the brainwriting session. Each of the six participants is going to sit down within a meeting room, and each will have their own piece of paper that will serve as a worksheet. At the top of this sheet is going to be a clear definition of the problem, so that the problem is always at top of mind and easily accessible.

When the clock starts, all six people are going to work on creating three ideas within the five-minute time frame. When time is up, each worksheet will be passed one chair to the right. Now, each participant is going to have a sheet that already has three ideas from the person sitting to their left. With those ideas to reference, another round is started and all six people create three more ideas.

Putting 6-3-5 Brainwriting Into Action

This process continues for six rounds, until each worksheet contains a total of 18 ideas. Obviously, with six rounds of five minutes each, the whole process should only take 30 minutes.

The Benefits

So what are the benefits of using 6-3-5 brainwriting when you need to solve a problem in your organization? First, there is the structure of this form of brainstorming session. You will be unlikely to waste time with this model, as everyone will know what is expected of them before getting started. Also, since each person is working on their own, there won’t be any competition for attention during the course of the meeting.

The Benefits of 6-3-5 Brainwriting

Another big benefit of 6-3-5 brainwriting is the ability for contributors to build off the ideas of others. By the end of the session, there will be a long list of ideas already present on each of the worksheets, and those ideas can be used to spur new thoughts. The cumulative effect can be a powerful one in this case, and it just might lead to the discovery of an idea that is perfect for solving the issue at hand.

6-3-5 brainwriting certainly isn’t going to be the perfect creativity process for every situation that you face in your business, but it is a nice tool to have available. When a large quantity of ideas is desired, this form of brainwriting is an attractive option to be sure. With specific rules and a time-limit in place, you should come away impressed with what this system can do for your organization.

You can read more about 6-3-5 Brainstorming in our free eBook ‘Top 5 Brainstorming Techniques‘. Download it now for your PC, Mac, laptop, tablet, Kindle, eBook reader or Smartphone.

Key Points

  • While brainstorming is an excellent creativity tool, it does have its limitations due to the lack of rules and structure.
  • Traditional group brainstorming sessions can easily become dominated by one or two people, with everyone else winding up in the background.
  • To get around this problem, you can implement the process of 6-3-5 brainwriting.
  • There are going to be six people tasked with developing ideas to solve a given problem, in addition to one person who is going to serve as the moderator.
  • During each round of the brainwriting session, each person involved is going to be asked to come up with three ideas that are written down on a worksheet.
  • Five minutes are going to be allotted for each stage of this process, during which each of the six people will need to come up with three ideas.
  • This approach tends to save time and prevent the exercise from becoming dominated by the participants with the loudest voices.
  • It also encourages contributors to build on the ideas of others because it takes place in several rounds.

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