planning corp.
5361 Malaspina Place
North Vancouver
B.C.V7R 4L9
Easy to remember
ISPangle.com or iSPANGLE.com.
Performance enhancement Project manager training Microsoft Project training Project information systems Project Server deployment About ISP services
ISPangle > Expedite projects with turbo brainstorming >

Brainstorm a topic with post-it notes

Brainstorming a single topic using flipcharts and post-it notes is the third step in the brainstorming process outlined in the context diagram below. The goal of format is to collect and prioritize a group of ideas quickly from a group. Ensure everyone in the session gets to contribute their ideas.

Turbo Brainstorming process
  1. Plan multi-topic brainstorming session.                      
      2. Setup brainstorming room.                  
          3. Brainstorm next topic.              
              4. Plan action items from session.          
                  5. Review  results with executives.      
                      6. Publish results of the session.  

This simple sorting process can identify and group up to 100 ideas in 45 minutes with a group of ten participants. Each brainstorming topic takes between thirty and sixty minutes. Repeat this step for each topic to be covered in the brainstorming session.

Brainstorming where participants write their own ideas on post-it notes is six times faster than traditional brainstorming where a scribe writes ideas on flipcharts. No body has to wait while the scribe finishes the last idea.

3. Brainstorm next topic
  1. Identify Topic to brainstorm                      
      2. Capture ideas on post-it notes.                   
          3. Select most important ideas              
              4. Sort selected ideas          
                  5. Group sub ideas under main headings      
                      6. Label idea categories  

The diagram below shows how participants move the ideas at each stage of the brainstorming a topic.

1. Identify Topic   2. Brainstorm Ideas   3. Select most important Ideas







4. Sort Selected Ideas   5. Group sub ideas   6. Label the groups
1   3    
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5


Create planning workspace with flipcharts.

The facilitator posts flipcharts on the wall prior to the brainstorming session. To avoid pulling the paint off the wall use drafting tape instead of masking tape.

1. Identify topic to brainstorm.

Facilitator suggests next topic to brainstorm. Phrase the topic to stimulate thinking. Choose a topic that will advance the team towards the objective of the meeting. Confirm everyone understands the topic. Enhance the topic based on participants suggestions. Later you may have to split the ideas generated into two topics.

2.a Participants brainstorm ideas on post-it notes.

Post it notes speed brainstorming collection, sorting and re-organizing of ideas by about 3 times over traditional brainstorming where a facilitator or scribe writes ideas on flipcharts.

Silent brainstorming off-loads scribing from the facilitator. The group does not have to wait while the previous idea is scribed on the flipchart.

Participants write three to six ideas on post-it notes.

Having everyone silent brainstorm their ideas first ensures everyone can contribute their ideas. 

Write one Idea per Post-it Note.

Post it notes speed brainstorming collection, sorting and re-organizing of ideas by about 3 times.

Write at least five words per idea. A single word may encapsulate the idea for you but provide more information so others can understand your idea.

Write large so others can read your ideas.

Can you read this?
Use a fine, dark felt-tip pen so others can read your ideas


Extend space for recording long ideas by sticking multiple post-it notes together.

You may collect forty to sixty ideas in ten minutes.

2.b Share ideas by posting them on flipcharts

Get participants to stand in a circle around the flipcharts posted on the wall. Each person reads out their idea. Everyone is encouraged to provide positive feedback. By reading out their ideas the participants hear the ideas and often appreciate that they did not think of the same thing. This step takes ten to fifteen minutes.

3. Each participant selects their most important idea

Get each participant to select the idea most important to them. This ensures everybody has their most important idea. You may select someone else's idea. Leave the temptation to group ideas until later. Each participant gets to select a single idea. As the ideas are selected participants raise them above the line. Once a person has selected an idea ask them to step back and give others a chance. This step ensures everyone has a chance to contribute to at least one idea while reducing the number of ideas the team has to consider for sorting. It should take less than five minutes.

4. Team sorts selected ideas on flipcharts.

The goal of this step is to prioritize the top ideas in the sorting zone at the top of the flipcharts.

Prioritizing ideas generates the most discussion and requires the greatest participation of the facilitator. Some groups resist sorting as too difficult but its important to reach a consensus through discussion and understanding. This step usually takes fifteen minutes.

5. Team groups sub-ideas under main-ideas.

Let participants group sub ideas under each sorted category. Encourage discussion by asking them to find at least one other person that agrees with them. Ideas that don't fit are candidates for new categories. Takes less than ten minutes.

6. Label each group.

Get participants to suggest labels for each group.

Copyright Feb. 7, 2005 Brian Mullen, I.S.P. information systems planning corp. Last updated: March14, 2007

email me with your questions