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R & D Creativity & Innovation Handbook by Edward Glassman Ph.D.
Brainwriting Techniques : Page 2 of 2

Brainwriting Techniques

continued from page 1

• Clustering Brainwriting.

Write a nucleus-word representing your problem in the center of a piece of paper or a flip chart so all can see. Draw a circle around it. Write rapidly whatever comes to mind in a cluster of words or short phrases around the core nucleus-word. Draw a circle around each word or thought as you write it, and link it to the previous circle. This forms a series of words inside linked circles to form a flow chart of ideas.

Do not think about what you write. Do free intuitive writing. Don't seek connectedness; you want randomness in the early stages. Go off on wild tangents. Shift paradigms. Look for different mind funnels. Seek the bizarre. Stay non-evaluative.

Cluster phrases and words in linked circles around interesting thoughts. Write clusters of words and phrases in linked circles as long as ideas flow freely. When you run out of ideas, stop a while before you add new words or thoughts.

Study the cluster of words and phrases in the linked circles you created. Non-evaluatively list ideas you might want to try. Draw lines between word clusters to form new, synergistic approaches to the problem. Show the clusters of words to someone else to trigger new ideas.

Set a quota for a minimum number of ideas. Settling for less than five new ideas accepts the obvious, the quick fix.

To force combinations between unrelated concepts, use two or more word-nuclei at opposite corners of the same page. This will force a combination or create a usable metaphor between these concepts as you fill the page.

• Brainwriting Circles.

A useful variation of clustering.

Write a word or phrase that captures the spirit of the problem in a small circle in the center of a blank sheet of paper on a writing pad or on an easel. Write an entire problem statement if you wish.

Write words close to the circle that you associate with the concept within the circle. Use non-evaluative listing and automatic writing principles in a process of progressive free association.

When no more room exists next to the circle, move outward a bit and start writing a new circular layer of words. Continue filling the page with concentric circular layers of words triggered by free association with the original word or phrase, or with any of the words and phrases that you write on the paper.

Stay creative throughout. Use linear and nonlinear creative thinking. Do not evaluate. Go off on tangents. The words you write do not have to connect or make sense.

After you fill the paper, make connections and remote associations by circling and drawing lines between words or phrases that define patterns of new paradigms and ideas that seem useful in themselves or as triggers to new ideas. Use different colored pencils or pens. Make creative associations.

Stay patient. Allow this process to work. It sometimes seems fragile to me, shattering into a useless jumble unless I carefully nurture it by not forcing the words and phrases to make sense too soon. Stay with it. This procedure can help your creative thinking in marvelous ways. •

© 2011 by Edward Glassman. All rights reserved.

Edward Glassman, PhDEdward Glassman, PhD was the President of the Creativity College®, a division of Leadership Consulting Services, Inc., and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he headed the Program For Team Effectiveness And Creativity. More »