Estimated reading time 3 min

Brainwriting for action

When the vision is clear, it is time to put words into action. Brainwriting for action is a way to get started quickly and stimulate your thinking.


This process can be called brainwriting. The goal is to quickly produce a large number of ideas on various actions and ways of achieving the desired future. Unlike brainstorming, this process involves coming up with ideas independently and in silence. As stated service designer Marc Stickdorn points out, this method is particularly useful when you want to ensure that the quieter members of the group get their ideas heard. The limited time for this exercise also allows the participants to free themselves to get very involved in the process, as the aim at this stage is to focus on quantity instead of quality. The fact that the lists of ideas are circulated around also means that no-one can get too caught up in their own ideas.


  1. Choose a preferred future, a vision you want to aim for. It can be your organisation’s vision, your own vision or something else. Make sure the vision is displayed for everyone to see.
  2. Explain that the goal is to quickly produce as many ideas as possible on actions and ways of achieving the preferred future. If necessary, you can specify whether the participants should come up with ideas at a general level or whether the ideas should be such that the participants can actually put them into action. Since the focus is on coming up with ideas, it is not necessary to think too much about how the actions would be carried out. Therefore, encourage the participants to not be overly self-critical.
  3. Face-to-face: sit in a circle, give each participant a piece of paper of the same size and the same kind of pen. Online: use a collaboration platform (such as Mural, Miro or Google Docs) that everyone can write at the same time.
  4. You can do 3×3-minute brainwriting rounds, for example, according to the following steps:
    a. if this activity is done face-to-face, have everyone list as many ideas as they can come up with in three minutes and then have them hand their paper to the person on their left. The next person then continues the list. Then do two more rounds in the same way. Each idea needs to be numbered.
    b. if this activity is done online, the idea is the same: using a sharing platform, provide each participant with a space to write their ideas. At the start of each new round, have the participants change places and add ideas to lists that were written by a different participant in the previous round.
  5. When you have completed a suitable number of rounds, gather up all of the lists and take time to review the ideas that were generated during the brainwriting process.
  6. Discuss. What was difficult? What was surprising? Which ideas recurred? Which ideas should be developed further? Also consider which ideas are particularly relevant to your vision. You can choose, by discussion or voting, a number of ideas for further development.

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