BrainstormingInterpersonal Skills

6-3-5 Brainwriting technique

Brainwriting is a creative problem-solving technique that involves generating ideas in a group setting. Unlike brainstorming, which relies heavily on verbal communication, brainwriting focuses on written communication. One popular brainwriting technique is the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique.

This technique is particularly useful for teams that struggle with dominant personalities and groupthink.

According to this article by Team EQ4C, brainstorming is often regarded as the most effective way to generate ideas collaboratively, but it can also lead to potentially valuable ideas being overlooked.

This is because not everyone is comfortable speaking up in a group setting or may not be able to think on their feet. Brainwriting offers a solution to these issues.


History of the 6-3-5 Brainwriting Technique

The 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique was developed by Bernd Rohrbach, a German marketing consultant, in the late 1960s. The technique was originally known as the 6-3-5 Method and was developed as a way to overcome some of the challenges associated with traditional brainstorming techniques.

Rohrbach coined the term “brainwriting.” Since then, the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique has become a popular approach to generating ideas in a variety of settings.

How 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique Works?

The technique is a structured brainstorming method that encourages creativity and collaboration among team members. It follows a simple step-by-step process that allows participants to generate ideas, build on each other’s ideas, and refine them further.

Here’s a detailed explanation of how the Brainwriting technique works:

Form a group of six participants

The group should consist of six people with diverse backgrounds and expertise to bring different perspectives to the brainstorming process.

Provide each participant with a sheet of paper

Each participant receives a sheet of paper with a designated section for their ideas.


Instruct participants to write down three ideas in five minutes

Each participant writes down three ideas related to the problem statement or topic at hand in five minutes.

Once the five minutes are up, each participant passes their paper to the person on their right.

Build on each other’s ideas

Participants read the three ideas on the paper they received and use them as a starting point to generate three new ideas in the next five minutes.

This process continues for six rounds until each participant has had the opportunity to contribute to every sheet of paper in the group.


Group discussion

Once all the rounds are complete, participants discuss the ideas on each sheet of paper and choose the best ones to further develop.

Refine the ideas

The group can refine and combine the chosen ideas to create a final list of potential solutions or actions.

Next steps

The group can prioritize and assign responsibilities for implementing the chosen solutions or actions.

Materials Needed:

  • Pen or pencil
  • Sheet of paper for each participant
  • Timer

How to set up the brainstorming session:

  • Choose a facilitator to lead the brainstorming session
  • Provide a clear problem statement or topic for discussion
  • Explain the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique and the process
  • Set a time limit for each round
  • Encourage participants to build on each other’s ideas and refrain from criticizing or judging them
  • Allocate sufficient time for group discussion and refinement of ideas.

Using the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique can help teams generate a large number of ideas quickly, tap into diverse perspectives, and encourage collaboration. By following the process, the group can arrive at innovative solutions to complex problems.

Advantages of 6-3-5 Brainwriting

The 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique offers several benefits over traditional brainstorming methods, including:

  1. Encourages participation from all members – Since everyone has the opportunity to write down their ideas, the quieter members of the group have an equal chance to contribute as the more vocal ones. This can lead to a greater number of ideas and a more diverse set of perspectives.
  2. Promotes diversity of ideas – By providing a structured format for idea generation, the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique encourages participants to come up with a wide range of ideas. This can lead to more innovative solutions and a broader perspective on the problem at hand.
  3. Fosters a non-judgmental atmosphere – Unlike traditional brainstorming sessions where ideas are shared out loud and critiqued on the spot, 6-3-5 Brainwriting promotes a non-judgmental atmosphere. This allows participants to feel more comfortable sharing their ideas, and can lead to more creative thinking.
  4. Efficient use of time – With the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique, participants are given a fixed amount of time to generate ideas before passing their sheet to the next person. This keeps the session moving along and ensures that everyone has a chance to contribute. Additionally, the structured format can help prevent the group from getting bogged down in unproductive discussions.

Disadvantages of 6-3-5 Brainwriting:

While the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique offers many benefits, it also has some limitations to consider:

  1. Limited face-to-face interaction: Because participants are working independently, there is less opportunity for real-time discussion, clarification, or collaboration on ideas.
  2. Requires more time than other brainstorming methods: With six rounds, each taking around 5 minutes, the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique can take longer to complete than other brainstorming methods.
  3. Limited opportunity for discussion and clarification: Because participants are not interacting with each other directly, there may be some lack of clarity or misunderstandings around certain ideas that could be resolved.


The 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique offers a structured approach to brainstorming that can lead to creative and innovative ideas. By encouraging participation from all members and promoting diversity of ideas, this technique can foster a non-judgmental atmosphere and efficient use of time.

While the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique has some limitations, such as limited face-to-face interaction and limited opportunity for discussion and clarification, these can be overcome with proper planning and facilitation.

Real-world examples have shown the success of companies who have implemented the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique, highlighting its potential to generate unique and valuable ideas. As organizations continue to face complex and challenging problems, this technique offers a promising approach to find innovative solutions.

In conclusion, the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique is a powerful tool that can help organizations generate fresh ideas and improve their productivity. We encourage organizations to give this technique a try and see the benefits firsthand. With its potential for fostering creativity and innovation, the 6-3-5 Brainwriting technique has the potential to be a valuable tool for businesses of all sizes and industries.


Marty Hoffman

Marty Hoffman, MBA, PhD Management Consultant for Fortune 500 and Corporate Strategist 📍 San Francisco, CA More »

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