Boundary Examination Technique

The distinction in brainwriting, as opposed to brainstorming, is the generation of ideas individually and recording them on a piece of paper. Its advantage over brainstorming is the reduction in the effect of dominating individuals. Brainwriting ensures that all participants have an equal opportunity to share their ideas.

As you share ideas, use the Spring Board technique and rotate the ideas among participants with each person expanding and improving the idea. By the time the process is completed, everyone has ownership in the ideas. The result is a more mature idea, ready to be implemented, compared to the results of brainstorming where the ideas are mostly immature.

Procedure for Use:

1. The problem or opportunity is recorded at the top of a sheet of paper.

2. Participants record possible solutions on the sheet of paper.

3. The sheets of paper are collected and distributed randomly among participants. Each time the sheets are redistributed, care is taken to ensure that recipients never receive the same sheet twice.

4. The recipient of a sheet is asked to record three useful things about the idea.

5. The sheets are collected and redistributed and Step 4 is repeated.

6. The sheets are collected and redistributed and Step 4 is repeated.

7. The sheets are collected and redistributed. Recipients are then asked to respond to the question, ‘What is missing from the idea: what would make it more useful?’

8. The sheets are collected and redistributed and Step 7 is repeated.

9. The sheets are then collected and redistributed for the final time. Recipients are asked, ‘Assume that cost is not a constraint, what has to happen to make this idea work?’

10. The sheets are collected and typed up for review.

The approach normally produces sufficient information for each idea to be forwarded to management for evaluation.