Brainstorming is a collaborative creativity technique which aims to generate a vast number of ideas for possible solution approaches to a specific problem.


The insights and action areas you identified in the synthesis phase outline potential for innovation. Brainstorming fosters the idea generation of potential solutions to these areas of opportunity.


  • 1 Moderator: The moderator takes the lead in the brainstorming session. He / She ensures that everybody respects  the rules of the brainstorming session and that everybody’s voice is heard.

  • 4-6 Brainstorming Participants: The brainstorming participants do not have special responsibilities. They should participate actively and with an open-minded in the brainstorming session.


  • Pens and Post-Its

  • Free wall or board


1. Brainstorming Questions

1.1 Formulate questions: Formulate a large number of questions concerning the problem statement. Write each question on a seperate post-it and put them on the wall / board.

1.2 Rules: Questions should always begin with “How might we …?” in order to ensure openness and a sense of communality. Try avoid formulating too open or narrow questions! For example:

  • Too open: “How might we improve our work?”

  • Too narrow: “How might we organise an office cable system?”

  • Better: “How might we improve the organisation of our workspace?”


1.3 Clustering and Selection: Cluster the gathered questions by subject and select those you want to work on. You should especially select questions that instantly inspire and trigger ideas for yourself and your teammates.

2. Session Set-Up

2.1 Moderator: Choose a moderator who takes the lead and ensures that everybody respects the rules.

2.2 Set the rules: As a team, set the rules for your brainstorming session and put them on the wall / board:

  • Go for quantity

  • Defer judgment

  • Build on the ideas of others

  • Encourage wild ideas

  • Be visual

  • One conversation at a time

  • Stay focused on topic

2.3 Material and Warm Up: Material and Warm Up: Hand out a pen and a post-it to every participant and have a brief warm-up session to get people in the right mood.



3. Session Procedure

3.1 Idea generation: The moderator reads the brainstorming question out loud. Every participant spends 1-2 minutes thinking about the question on their own, and writes as many  ideas as possible on Post-its. Then, the team shares the ideas and the moderator sticks them on the wall.

3.2 Keep the flow going: If the flow lessens, the moderator tries to inject momentum by varying the question formulation, concentrating on different target groups or going into detail about a specific idea concept. If no more ideas are forthcoming, take a break and do something completely different to relax your brain.

3.3 Voting: Lastly, take a vote in order to prioritize and assess the ideas you have gathered. To select the best ideas, you can apply “dotmocracy”, i.e., every team member gets three dots to vote for the ideas they find best.

© 2018 University of St. Gallen / ITMP