what is it, what are the best techniques and differences for a brainstorm – WAU

Brainwriting is a technique that allows you to generate 108 new ideas in just half an hour. It is no wonder that recently he has proven to be more efficient than brainstorming. Find out exactly what it is, how it differs, how to do it and what are its advantages!

Surely, you must have brainstormed your career by now, or at least heard about it, correct?

It has already established itself as a very useful practice for generating ideas – especially in advertising – either to innovate and create a market offer, or to solve a problem like that.

However, O brainstorming has some flaws and, in some contexts, other practices may be much more effective. That’s where brainwriting comes in!

We can consider it a variation of your best known partner and its main benefits are linked to the experience of the participants and also to the quality of the final ideas.

If you are looking to improve the methods of generating ideas in your company, then you need to know more about brainwriting. In this article you will see:

Read on and find out how to generate more creativity!

What is brainwriting?

Ideas are essential to keep innovating, create products and services, optimize the way of working and, thus, have better results. More than that, they are vital to achieving and maintaining a good competitive advantage.

As companies that have a vision for the future and embrace innovation go ahead, processes have emerged to help the flow of ideas and they must be integrated with work activities.

For that, we have brainwriting, a technique that involves a group in generating ideas in a written and shared way, passing them on to the other participants, who launch new ideas and build on those that have already been launched.

It is important to note that all of this occurs silently, in a combination of individual and group interactions, so that in the end it can be discussed by the whole team.

The person responsible for its creation was the German Bernd Rohrbach, who published his process in 1968 in the magazine Absatzwirtschaft. The technique was named by its inventor 6-3-5 Brainwriting and each number represents a criterion:

  • 6 people and 6 rounds of ideas;
  • 3 ideas per person in each round;
  • 5 minutes is the time for each round.

Under the supervision of a moderator, each of the 6 participants starts by writing 3 ideas on a paper in 5 minutes. After that, he passes it on to the colleague on the left and the deadline starts counting again to write 3 more ideas based on the one he just received.

The rounds follow and, when the paper returns to the one who started it, the group will have generated at least 108 ideas in just half an hour. Incredible, isn’t it?

Quantity is not the only benefit, far from it! But before I tell you the other benefits of brainwriting, let’s explain how this process differs from brainstorming. Follow below!

What are the differences in brainwriting for brainstorming?

Just as we present the origin of brainwriting, we will also present how brainstorming was born and consolidated!

The brainstorming method was created by the American Alex F. Osborn, a newsboy who became an advertising man. In his career, he proved to be a master of creativity, exploring how creative work was done and could be better.

In the process, he presented some crucial points for the development of brainstorming, such as:

  • do not criticize until creativity starts to flow;
  • quantity is more important than quality in generating ideas;
  • think outside the box;
  • ideas must be combined and optimized until the best one is found.

Do you recognize them all? All are pillars of brainstorming and were essential to consolidate the importance of an idea generation process in organizations when they needed new solutions.

In general, the sessions became a meeting of participants who should unleash creativity on a topic in an oral discussion and, together, the ideas are debated for a final selection, with everything recorded on a board. In other words, it differs from brainwriting mainly in its environment.

There is no doubt that this method has generated many incredible things, but still, brainstorming is slowly declining because it has lost its focus on ideas.

Precisely because it is an oral discussion, it ended up becoming a great competition for who is the most creative. As if it were a moment of professional validation and not something to be done for the company.

This is even more negative when we think that people who are more introverted or who have less experience in the organization may fail to share their ideas, which can result in the loss of incredible opportunities.

To be aware, in a meeting with 6 participants, 2 people usually dominate more than 60% of the time and this only gets worse as the group increases. Soon, the ideas end up not being so diverse and a lot of time is spent just listening instead of creating.

Brainwriting, though equally old, emerges as a method to avoid brainstorming failures. Competition in the corporate world can be avoided and the focus goes back to the most important thing: quality ideas.

Unless brainstorming is between a few participants and all of them at the same level, which resolves the equity issue and makes it very constructive, brainwriting can and should be considered.

How to do a brainwriting?

In the same way that brainstorming needs to be simple for the generation of ideas to flow, so does brainwriting. And, to make it more efficient, there are some rules so that the flow goes smoothly between the participants.

Therefore, we separate a step by step for a successful brainwriting. Come on?

Presentation of the theme

Before you start, the moderator must present the goal of brainwriting and doing a retrospective with personas, data and insights so that everyone has the same level of knowledge and, thus, can contribute equally.

He does not need to limit himself to this, but he can also ask questions to instigate the participants’ creativity.

Generation of ideas

Then, for 5 minutes, each participant must write 3 ideas on the topic in question on the cards provided.

After that time, each card is passed to the colleague on the left and everyone gets a new one to put 3 more ideas in the same period, taking inspiration from what has already been provided, adding or bringing new concepts.

The writing round is done a few times, always in the same period of time and with the same goal of bringing 3 more ideas, until each card returns to the participant who wrote first on it.

Throughout this stage, the moderator must coordinate the process and maintain silence in the space for the production to continue. Sometimes it is permitted to introduce questions to encourage creation and make you think outside the box.

Disclosure and voting

There, with many ideas created, each participant should read aloud the ideas on their card and present to everyone in the room what was produced in the session.

Then, the best ideas are selected, displayed in a framework visible to everyone and, in a vote, participants choose which should be worked out by the organization in action plans.

It is important to say that at this stage the ideas can still be combined and can be complemented to be optimized.

What are the advantages of brainwriting?

Now that you know what brainwriting is, how to do it and how it differs from brainstorming, it’s time to talk directly about its benefits!

The comparison with brainstorming is inevitable. Going back to some points that we have already touched on, he is susceptible to dominant people and disorder, has a power structure and, above all, ends up generating less ideas.

And why can brainwriting be more recommended? Follow!

Orderly and democratic

Brainwriting is totally anonymous and silent, which makes it more orderly and, when it comes to revealing and discussing ideas, they are worth equally, embracing the creative process of the whole team and being more democratic. After all, the end result is a victory for everyone!

Under these conditions, participants feel at ease to contribute for real and without pressure, which is great for introverted people or those at a junior level, for example.

Creative and constructive

Because it is a totally constructive process during the stage of generating ideas and without initial criticism, creativity is stimulated, which allows unexpected and much more efficient results. With the right touches, a bad idea can revolutionize a company.

Besides that, many more ideas are generated! In brainstorming, people compete for attention and, finally, when they are heard, everyone needs to hear about an idea, while in brainwriting they are built simultaneously. The result? At least 108 ideas in a normal session.


As it is an orderly and silent method, it does not necessarily need to be configured in a physical space. Even through a spreadsheet, participants can enter their ideas and alternate their work according to the rounds.

Thus, it is possible to adapt the practice even if you have a remote team. Just a good connection and clearly present the rules for everyone to participate.

Incorporating brainwriting produces more diverse ideas and creates a favorable environment for collaboration. In addition to the feeling of accomplishment for making great changes possible, the participants have a much greater sense of belonging to each other and to the company.

And, if you still have any questions about adopting this method, reflect:

  • Do I have members who seem reluctant and remain silent during brainstorming meetings?
  • Does my team have difficulty in producing enough ideas to select and arrive at impact actions?

If the answer was “yes”, then brainwriting may be the solution. Why not start now?

And to further stimulate your team, be sure to check out the best TED’s for creativity and design!