The Crawford Blue Slip

This is one of the simplest, yet very effective, creativity generation techniques. It can be used to collect a large number of ideas in a short time. Because the ideas are recorded and shared without the name of the originator, people feel more comfortable about expressing ideas and there is less concern that their ideas will not be considered as useful.

Procedure for Use:

Each person receives a stack of blue slips. The leader presents a statement in ‘how to’ form. For example, ‘How can our company improve its service to its customers?’ Persons are then urged to write as many answers as possible within a five-minute period. Each answer is recorded on a separate blue slip. Next, the slips are collected and sorted and related ideas are grouped. Then they can be evaluated and regrouped, according to categories related to impact, originality, cost, etc.

Example for Use

C.C. Crawford, originator of the technique, gives the example of gathering 20 people to define the requirements for a new industrial sealant. They wrote independently on five sub targets:

1. Identify customers.

2. Identify experts.

3. Suggest members for a project management team.

4. Identify possible constraints and limitations.

5. Identify critical success factors.

They then formed groups to sort and evaluate the ideas and decide upon a product definition. Their suggestion was adopted by management and within days the product was in a prototype state, significantly reducing product development time.