You most likely know about brainstorming for ideas in some business or educational setting. But there’s also “brainwriting,” which some people view as even more effective at producing creative approaches and solutions.
Both methods can involve whiteboards.
Andrew Tate, a neuroscientist and freelance writer, supports brainwriting in a recent commentary on “Creativity and The Psychology of Design.”
Tate notes studies that show regular brainstorming can actually suppress creativity.
“Studies have shown that brainstorming sessions end up leading toward a single, non-creative idea, normally one of the first ideas and not usually one of the creative ones,” he writes.
In his column, he suggests gathering in smaller groups, or having all participants post their ideas before the meeting. In that brain-writing, each person writes his or her ideas on a whiteboard, or attaches sticky-notes to a whiteboard.
“This means that the group can move past the obvious ideas to the most challenging and creative ones straight away, and come up with novel ideas,” Tate writes.
He offers a range of other insights that will help foster creativity.
Another approach to brain-writing is to have participants write down ideas on paper in advance or in small groups, as noted in Chauncey Wilson’s “Using Brainwriting for Rapid Idea Generation.” As the ideas are winnowed down, surviving ideas can be noted on a whiteboard for all to see and discuss.
Wilson lists six situations where brainwriting would be a good approach to idea generation.
Those include when a group is very large, when you are dealing with people who might not be comfortable with brainstorming, where idea development isn’t a strong part of the culture, when the moderator is not very experienced, or when you are concerned that certain individuals will dominate a discussion.
For more on brainstorming, see our recent blog post on recharging creativity using a whiteboard.