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Learning and Knowledge Exchange


Free-flowing creativity for problem-solving

Brainstorming is a quick and easy way to generate novel ideas for problem solving and innovation. As the name suggests, Brainstorming is meant to stimulate or excite the brain into thinking about issues in a new way. It encourages people to arrest conventional, logical thinking and embrace spontaneity, originality, and imagination Responding to a single, specific problem or question, participants in a Brainstorming session express their suggestions or ideas quickly and spontaneously, without much processed thought or reflection. Free association and building on the ideas of others are encouraged; criticism and censorship are forbidden. The focus is on quantity rather than quality, the goal being to generate as many ideas as possible in a short time. The assumption is that the greater the number of ideas generated, the greater the chance of producing a novel and effective solution.

Alternative Brainstorming methods (see below under Variations) allow facilitators to change the approach when needed.


  • Facilitator
  • Rapporteur (optional for groups up to 10; required for larger groups)
  • Plenty of cards (10 x 20 cm/ 4 x 8 inch) or post-it notes of different colours, and marker pens,(for recording and clustering ideas)
  • Flipchart or laptop & projector (for displaying the Brainstorming question)
  • Flipchart paper (placed on walls/boards) or pin boards, for putting up post-its/cards
  • Coloured dots/stickers (optional, for ranking exercise)
  • Meeting space (e.g., isolated room, park, garden)
  • 5 - 15 participants (per facilitator; see Brainstorming in larger groups under Variations)
  • 20 - 30 minutes minimum

Download the full module on Brainstorming (PDF), including when and why to use, how to apply, tips for success, variations, and references.



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