Silent Brainstorm
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Silent Brainstorm

Silent Brainstorming is a way to generate lots of ideas in a group, while making sure that everyone has a chance to contribute and isn’t biased by ideas that have already been put forward. The main technique in Silent Brainstorming is to make sure that everyone has some time at the beginning of the session to write down their ideas individually before bringing them all to the group to discuss.

Running Silent Brainstorming online with sticky notes in Ideaflip is an ideal way to do this with your team:

Define the problem

Start by creating a draft statement of the problem or issue that the brainstorm is about.

Be specific about the purpose of the brainstorm, but avoid limiting the outcomes by using restrictive language.

Give everyone their own space

Give everyone their own well defined space on the board for generating their ideas. Spread these areas out so that people aren’t influenced by seeing other people’s ideas.

Silent Idea Generation

Everyone starts to add their ideas to the whiteboard, using one sticky note per idea.

Try to avoid single words, but keep sentences short. Break sentences with the word 'and' into two or more notes.

Depending on how you prefer to work, team members can stick to using just one colour for their notes, or any colour.

Keep going until the ideas stop coming! You may decide to set a time limit to help focus minds - you can always shorten or lengthen it if you need to. Use the built-in Ideaflip timer so that everyone can see the countdown.

Cluster

Start by spreading all the stickies around randomly, so all ideas can be seen. Then, in silence, everybody starts to move related ideas into groups.

If it looks like a card belongs in two groups, duplicate it (you can do this with the copier icon that appears when you start dragging).

Remember that anyone can (and should) add new thoughts as they occur.

When everyone is satisfied with the groups, move on to the next stage.

Define the Clusters

Starting with the easiest group, discuss the central theme and add a sticky note with a heading that captures the meaning of that cluster. The group headings should be specific and consistent.

If clusters need to combine or break up, feel free to rearrange into new groupings.

If a satisfactory heading can't be found then park the discussion and move on to a different group until later.

Take care of any stragglers - these can be dropped, added to an existing cluster or given a heading by itself.

Complete

The results of the brainstorm (the headings) can be used for further investigation or development of a plan, depending on the nature of the brainstorm topic.

Thank everyone for taking part!

Click on the PDF link to download the results. You can tidy up the groups of stickies by arranging them in columns under each heading with a box around each cluster if you wish.

Email the PDF to the team and invite comments and feedback on how to improve the process for next time.