By Liz Cook and the Mind Tools Team
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Brainwriting

Getting More From Your Idea Sessions

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Be receptive to everyone's ideas.

Many of us have taken part in brainstorming sessions. These are commonly used to generate ideas, and to come up with a creative solution to a problem.

What can often happen during a brainstorming session, however, is that key players on the team speak up and express their ideas. Everyone else then enters the discussion about those few ideas, and they reach a consensus on the solution – without considering many other ideas that could have been generated.

This can be one of the drawbacks of the brainstorming process. Some members of the group may not speak up because they're shy, or are afraid that their suggestions may be rejected. Others may say nothing at all because they fear their ideas are simply too outrageous or bold. People with stronger personality types may loudly push and defend their ideas, without listening to others' suggestions. And ‘conservative' people may tend to propose only safe alternatives.

Yes, brainstorming can be effective in getting people to think laterally about a problem. However, if you're faced with obstacles like those we have just mentioned, how do you overcome them? Enter the brainwriting technique – an idea-generating process that enables EVERYONE in the group to participate in a nonthreatening way. This approach can often generate more potential solutions than traditional brainstorming.

Why? One reason is because traditional brainstorming sessions allow only one person to speak at a time. By the time each individual has spoken (and the group has finished the discussion), most participants have edited, discarded, or simply forgotten their own ideas. This is called ‘blocking,' and it can reduce creativity and productivity in these sessions. Brainwriting can help to eliminate this problem.

In this article, we'll show you what brainwriting is – and look at how you can start using it with your team.

What is Brainwriting?

Brainwriting is similar to brainstorming – they're both methods for generating ideas and solutions for a problem.

Brainwriting, however, gives everyone equal opportunity to participate, and it enables all group members to think without any ‘blocking.'

Here are the steps that you can follow to run a brainwriting session:...

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