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Brainstorming is a simple and effective way of generating ideas and suggestions. Brainstorming generates a large quantity of ideas without regard to their quality; subsequent sorting and prioritising of the ideas are used to refine the raw results. They are useful for introducing topics and generating an interest before further and more detailed work is undertaken, and they can be used to energise a group and stimulate discussion.


An issue or question is agreed or defined. The group puts forward ideas, responses, or solutions to the issue or question. These are recorded on a flip chart. Encouragement should be given to the rapid generation of ideas. The group should understand that:

• Ideas and responses are accepted and recorded without comment;

• Quantity is more important than quality at this stage;

• All responses are of equal merit during the exercise;

• One response can be used as a trigger for another response.

Having constructed a list of ideas through brainstorming or discussion, these ideas may vary in quality, appropriateness, accuracy, or relevance, or the volume of ideas may exceed what the group can handle in a given time. Methods for sorting them must then be used. See Section 13 on Using Cards, where methods for ranking, sorting, and prioritising are described.

Examples of where brainstorming might be used effectively

• Creating options for an action plan.

• Energising a slow discussion.

• Identifying risks in a certain situation.

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