Conventional brainstorming doesn’t work. Try the 6-3-5 method

I’ve written a number of occasions earlier than about the perils of conventional brainstorming. Getting folks collectively in a bunch to throw out concepts leads to what’s known as “productivity loss from brainstorming:” People working collectively utilizing guidelines of brainstorming provide you with fewer concepts (and fewer good concepts) than the similar variety of folks with the similar experience working alone.

One key purpose why brainstorming fails is that it misaligns the key phases of artistic concept era and the engagement of individuals. Artistic work is usually described as having a divergent part and a convergent part. In the divergent part, folks provide you with as many distinct concepts as potential to discover the area of potential options to an issue. In the convergent part, folks slender that set of concepts right into a small quantity that shall be pursued.

When people work alone, they have an inclination to diverge in the approach they give thought to issues, as a result of every individual describes the downside in a barely totally different approach and every individual goes off on their very own idiosyncratic chain of thought. When teams work collectively, they have an inclination to converge in the approach they’re occupied with issues. Each time a bunch member says one thing, it influences approach each different individual in the group is describing the downside and likewise influences what individuals are drawing from their reminiscences. Shortly, the group converges on a consensus for a way to consider the downside.


Because of this, teams quiet down on a small variety of potential options earlier than they’ve adequately explored the complete area.

To take full benefit of the information and abilities of the folks you could have assembled to generate concepts, skip brainstorming and take a look at a unique method. One method that has a variety of information to assist its effectiveness known as 6-3-5.

The thought behind this system is simple. Begin with six individuals who have the proper experience that can assist you resolve the downside. Search for folks with totally different sorts of data in order that they’re prone to method the downside from totally different views.

Then, give every individual three sheets of paper (or three pages in an digital doc). Have them write and sketch one answer to the downside you’re fixing on every sheet of paper. That approach, every individual is compelled to provide you with a minimum of three distinct options to the downside.

After everybody has provide you with three potential options. Have everybody go their stack of sheets to the individual on their left (or to the subsequent individual in a listing in case you’re doing this nearly). Every individual now has a brand new set of sheets. They need to take them and construct on the concepts they see and so as to add something new they consider based mostly on what’s on that sheet.

After everybody has constructed on the set of concepts they obtained on the new set of sheets, they need to go them once more to the individual on their left (or the subsequent individual on the listing) and repeat the course of. Total, the group passes the sheets round 5 occasions. By that point, everybody in the group has seen all the concepts that had been generated and has had an opportunity to construct on them.

After this course of, the group chief ought to take all of the concepts, go them round to everybody and provides everybody an opportunity to speak about what they like (and what they don’t) to be able to choose a small variety of concepts to pursue additional.


This system has a variety of advantages over conventional brainstorming. It requires everybody to work alone at first, which permits them to assume independently about the downside. That maximizes the divergence of thought in the group at the entrance finish. Individuals additionally construct on different concepts independently, in order that their additions don’t really feel like criticism in the second, and should take issues in a brand new course that the preliminary proposer hadn’t meant. Additionally, as a result of everybody finally builds on all of the concepts, none of them are recognizable as the concept proposed by a specific particular person. That forestalls individuals who need to see their concept get adopted from hijacking the course of to get recognition for his or her contribution.