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A Council Development Project
Leaflet No. 5a


Number of people:     Most effective 5-15
Minimum time:           5-10 minutes
Materials:                   Flip chart, newsprint, felt-tip pens, tape

Brainstorming is a method used to generate an idea list from a group in a short period of time. It is designed to encourage participation by all members. This method usually produces creative, new ideas useful in solving the problem or issue at hand.

Goal: Produce a quantity of ideas.


  1. Choose recorder to write ideas generated on newsprint;
  2. Set time limit or maximum number of items before you begin;
  3. Present topic clearly. Write on newsprint so all members can see. Give available background information;
  4. Ask people to offer ideas as rapidly as they can. They may ask for clarification, if the idea is not understood by the group;

    Rule: No idea can be judged, discussed or rejected.

  5. Make sure group members understand that ideas will be evaluated after brainstorming is finished;
  6. Write down on newsprint all ideas presented. Write word for word if possible;
  7. Move rapidly from one idea to another;
  8. To encourage group participation, take only one idea from each person. This is especially important if one or two people are dominating the idea sharing;
  9. Evaluate ideas, prioritize and return to brainstorming if more ideas are needed; and
  10. Proceed with the decision-making task.

Comments: Brainstorming with a group releases many ideas in a way that seems to spark other thoughts. The non-judgmental gathering of ideas breaks down barriers among people and avoids blocks such as "We've tried that before ... .. It didn't work," etc.

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Tony DeLong, delongt@missouri.edu
County Council Coordinator
Last modified: September 22, 2004