Write First, Discuss Later: Brainwriting
Sep 6, 2016
There are two types of creatives in this world: extroverts who take over the room in a brainstorming session, and silent introverts who get drowned out.
Everyone has great ideas – but how do you capture all of them?
Write first, discuss later.
So many articles promise the perfect brainstorming solution: lateral thinking, improv games, mind mapping, you name it – we’ve tried it. At Centerline, we’re always searching for new ways to improve our creative sessions. So when we stumbled upon this article on Fast Company about brainwriting, it caught our attention.
Brainwriting breaks down the creative process by separating the idea generation process from the discussion. We decided to give it a try, and OMG – it was amazing!
Here’s how it works:
- Silently generate 5 ideas each
- Build off of each other’s ideas
Our first attempt at brainwriting generated dozen of ideas.
Some of them were obvious, some were vague – but everyone had a voice. Because the first step of brainwriting requires the team to work independently, it levels the playing field between personality types. No one dominates and no one can hide. It also eliminates the shame factor – we found that our group felt safe to write down half-baked ideas without feeling embarrassed.
I think the brainwriting approach takes the term ‘see what sticks’ to a whole new level. The biggest hurdle is just getting the idea out and letting the team interpret it and expand on it. That way, there is no pressure on any one person to come up with the “magical solution’ – Rob Richards, Interactive Developer
Once we started building off of each other’s ideas, the magic happened.
The team got up from their seats, Post-Its and markers in hand. They picked an idea they liked and added to it. Often times, during traditional brainstorming sessions, people only focus on their ideas. I’m famous for playing the wedding march song during meetings to politely remind someone that they are married to their ideas. With brainwriting, my team was forced to work together and push someone else’s idea further.
It’s a collaborative way to hone in on different ways to tell a story… especially if it initially wasn’t your idea, everyone in a squad will bring a different flavor to it – thinking through creative execution, content strategy and project processes – to bring the initial thought behind that sticky note to life. – Megan Riley, Senior Project Manager
At this point, the wall was covered with ideas. The good concepts instantly rose to the top. The team now had an opportunity to discuss each idea, combine similar ideas, and further develop the concepts.
In an hour, we accomplished so much more than we would have using traditional methods. We’ve used this technique with both large and small groups, and it works on broad topics and hyper-focused goals.
Every time I think I have a good idea and bring it to one of those meetings, it only improves when it’s workshopped with others (even if the end result looks nothing like the original idea). – Ronny Nause, Production Specialist/Studio Manager
You always hear that everyone is capable of coming up with great ideas. However, I don’t know if I always believed that. I used to get frustrated running a creative meeting and having people just stare at me with nothing to say.
Now, I realize that everyone works differently – and they need their space to be creative. Brainwriting satisfies both sides. You can say it’s the Switzerland in a constant creative war.
If you build off my idea you might make it better or at least add to it in a way I might not have thought of.” – Susan Cokas, Writer