Meeting Facilitation

108 Ideas in 30 Minutes

6-3-5 Brainwriting is a Brainstorming method that generates 108 different ideas or views for any topic within 30 minutes.

This is how 6-3-5 works:

1) Choose your brainstorming topic/question

2) Prepare the sheets with the topic/question and a table of 6 rows and 3 columns (see image below)

3) Make a short introduction/warm-up with the team to introduce he topic/question

4) Hand out the sheets, then explain to the team what to do:

  • Think of 3 ideas that are coming to your mind when thinking about the topic/question.
  • Write each idea in one of the three table cells of the first row.
  • The time-box is 5 minutes .
  • As this is a brainstorming there are no wrong ideas, answers or views: think of anything and don’t let yourself be restricted by any current limiting factors.

5) After the first 5 minutes explain to the team what to do:

  • Please pass your ideas to the left person next to you.
  • Please read the 3 ideas on the sheet that was handed to you.
  • You can now either refine those ideas or write new ideas in the next row, again limit yourself to 3 ideas.
  • Single rule: It is not allowed to repeat ideas that you have already added or that are already on the sheet.

6) Repeat 5) until all six rows are filled in.

6-3-5 Brainwriting

7) To weight the ideas the team should now dot all ideas:
Every team member gets 3 dots for every sheet (for instance: 6 sheets = 18 dots) and can place the dots near the idea they think are the best. Rule: Stick max. 3 dots per sheet. You can either do this by pinning all sheets against a wall or passing the sheets around (with a 1 minute time-box per sheet).

As a result you will have 108 (6 rows x 3 ideas x 6 sheets) ideas that have already been weighted by the team. Of course, there will be duplicate ideas, but only some. With a team of six this will only take approx. 45 minutes (generating ideas PLUS weighting). The gathered data could then be clustered in a next meeting…

6-3-5 Brainwriting is great because:

  • you get a lot of different ideas within a short period of time
  • by writing: everyone’s ideas are “heard” (not only the ideas of the “loudest”)
  • by reading: everyone’s ideas are exchanged and maybe even refined
  • by weighting you normally get a tendency what to do next with the gathered data

Last week I tried 6-3-5 even in a beer garden and even there it worked perfectly!


3 thoughts on “108 Ideas in 30 Minutes

  1. Moin Pete,

    I like the idea and will for sure try it. Two questions came to my mind while reading:

    1. The single rule says: “It is not allowed to repeat ideas that you have already added or that are already on the sheet”. Just for clarification: This means I’m not allowed to add an idea that I already added on *another* sheet (or which is on the current one, of course), right?

    2. Is the six sheets a given limit? Or may I hand out eight sheets as well, if my team consists of eight people? Otherwise some of them would be idle. What about just four participants? Do I hand out four sheets then?


    1. 1) Right. 🙂
      2) 6 is rather the maximum limit. If you have only 4 people on the team, then of course only 4 sheets. If you have 8 people use 8 sheets, but stop after the 6th round (as all sheets will be full).

      Thanks, Sven.

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