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Ideation Techniques – Part 1

Ideation Techniques – Part 1
March 29, 2017

In continuation to the blog on Promoting and Nurturing Innovation, we will now be discussing the different ideation techniques for idea generation.

Simply put, the ideation concept translates to “formation of ideas or concepts”. Brainstorming is often employed as one of the ideation techniques.


Brainstorming is a widely used technique. In fact, we use brainstorming as a synonym for any discussion or ideation. In the course of brainstorming, there is no assessment of ideas, so people can share their views without any inhibitions. Brainstorming techniques can be performed both, individually and in groups. A typical brainstorming group comprises six to ten people.

However, brainstorming techniques may occasionally generate some gaps:

  1. It may lead to dissonance among people following criticism or judgemental views from other group members.
  2. It’s not always effective especially in the following scenarios:
  • Communication skills: People may struggle to express their views candidly or listen to what others have to say.
  • Authoritarian structure: Dictating terms from the boss can render the discussion useless.
  1. It’s not always an ideal setup as some individuals may panic at the thought of speaking in front of a group. But, they can come up with innovative ideas in one-on-one meetings. Others, meanwhile, simply coast through brainstorming sessions by allowing talkative and more proactive colleagues to do the work.

Here, we will go beyond brainstorming and observe its effectiveness.


Brainwriting engages participants to pen down their ideas pertaining to a specific problem or question on sheets of paper, within a stipulated time. Subsequently, each participant can pass their ideas over to someone else who can add some fresh ones. The individuals are again made to pass their papers to someone else— the exercise continues. After about 15 minutes, someone else can collect the sheets and post them for instant discussion.

There is a variation of this: The 6-3-5 technique.

1. 6-3-5 means: 6 in group/3 ideas per round/5 minutes per round.

2. Individuals are divided into groups of 6. Too many members in a group makes the process unmanageable, restricting the flow of ideas.

 3. Each participant starts with a prewritten brainwriting form with a problem mentioned at the top.  

4. In the first round, participants get 5 minutes to write down 3 ideas in the top boxes (1 per box) of the brainwriting form.

5. At the end of each round, the form is passed to the person on the right. This person reads all the ideas on the sheet and then adds 3 new ones. The innovative ideas can be completely new, or can be additional developments to ideas already on the sheet. The objective here is to foster new ideas, without initiating a discussion.

In the next blog, we will talk about SCAMPER as another ideation technique.