Previously on the LOIC blog, Joanne Marchand taught us the Webbing technique, which can be used to approach and clarify the challenges that we are looking to solve in our companies.

Building on this, let’s now take a look at a tool known as Brainwriting. This ideation technique can help us come up with various solutions for the challenges that we have identified. In addition, enabling us to generate ideas quickly is one of the main objectives of the process. It is easy to implement and allows the whole team to contribute.

Brainwriting technique

Sometimes the hardest step in solving a challenge is coming up with the ideas.  The aim of the brainwriting technique is to generate numerous ideas, quickly and easily, by building on the various initial ideas of all members of a group.

This is how it works.

Each member of the group is given a brainwriting template and writes down the collective challenge in the form of a question in  the top right corner of the page.

Each person then writes down one idea in each of the three boxes of the 1st row. Once he/she has done that, the sheet is placed in the centre of the table and the person takes a different one, reads through the ideas that appear in the 1st row, and then builds on those ideas to try to take them further. There are all sorts of ways to build on an idea – adding, taking away, replacing one element with another, writing the complete opposite etc. At this stage, we’re exploring our options and they have to be kept open.

The exercise is then repeated in that the sheet is placed once more in the centre of the table once the 2nd row has been filled. A different person can then take that sheet and move on to the “go wild” stage, which is where absolutely anything goes. Let your imagination take a real hold – there is NO judgement yet.

Here’s an illustration of what each page should look like:

What's your challenge? How can we make staff happier in the office?

Step 1:
3 new ideas

1. Work out of the office

2. Have time to work on your own project

3. Create a happier environment

Step 2:
Build on the first idea

One day per week work from different places

Have one day per week free to work on individual projects or on new training skills

Listen to music in the office

Step 3:
Go wild...

In co-working spaces or in companies you admire

Yearly competition for funding the individual projects / award for the most creative employee

Each employee chooses the music per day

The key to making this exercise a success is creating the right context to enable the group members to put their common sense aside, especially in the final stage. This is a “no name” exercise, so once the sheets are collected, anyone reading them will not know who has written what. And remember, if an idea makes you smile, it might just be the one that’ll lead to something smart!

The beauty of this technique lies in the speed at which ideas are created. In just 15 minutes, a small group can come up with a large number of options, some (or all) of which can then be put through the next stage of the creative process: development.

This article has been written in collaboration with Joanne Marchand.


Who is Joanne Marchand?

  • Innovation & Corporate Social Responsibility lead at BNP Paribas Securities Services.
  • A 2-hatted role combining innovation leadership, acceleration, and creative facilitation at the service of the business strategy & the roll-out at a local level of the BNP Paribas group Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • Trained in the methods of creative leadership within the workplace in Italy, Paris and at the BBC Academy, London.