Complexity: Medium
Time required: 4-5 hours
Material required: markers, post-its, red and green circular stickers
Other: It’s best to do this activity in a group setting for more input.

References: Acumen+ HCD for Social Innovation, www.designkit.org

What is it for?

The Brainstorm Web is a classic tool used to facilitate group brainstorming. It is best done with all members of the team and after work has been done towards defining the problem at hand. The tool will contribute towards better understanding the various aspects of the problems and thus further defining the problem but will also work towards honing in on specific solutions.

How to use it?

The tool can only be completed in groups. Start the activity
by defining your challenge and the specific needs that you are addressing. It is best if you come up with a single challenge defining question (i.e. a “how might we…” question) and place his at the center of the template.
Now, as a group, go over the basic brainstorming rules:

  1. Be open to all ideas and don’t make judgements.
  2. Build on ideas – avoid “but”. Use “and” and explore “what if…”.
  3. Explore even the most outrageous ideas – don’t jump to obvious solutions.
  4. Make thoughts and ideas visible – enable all participants
    to contribute and build on ideas.
  5. Stick to the topic – remember the purpose, focus on the outcome.
  6. One conversation at a time.

Remember also that this is a divergent moment, or in other words, a phase in which ideas should be generated as quickly as possible. We are interested in quantity and not quality at this phase.
Now that the rules have been read and the challenge question is written in the center bubble of the brainstorm web, we can begin! The session will last 20 minutes. Have each participant write their ideas on post-it notes and share them with the group as they finish. This will encourage participants to build off each other’s ideas and for new inspiration to be found. After the brainstorming session is finished, the next step is look for patterns and cluster them together. Now name the clusters. Once the ideas have been clustered, give each participant three red stickers and three blue stickers to vote with. Red stickers are for the most innovative ideas and blue stickers are for the most feasible ideas.