6-3-5 Method

When it comes to maximizing a team’s creative potential, brainstorming is key to the process. However, there is a difference between time-wasting brainstorming and efficient, productive thinking in groups. Rather than sitting in a circle and randomly expressing new ideas to your team as they come to you, it’s best to hone everyone’s creative thoughts by systematically sorting through them and adding to them one by one. The 6-3-5 method comes in here to turn brainstorming sessions into a strong list of new ideas.

Used to identify, develop, plan, implement, and evaluate possible solutions or changes in your team’s work, 6-3-5 draws ideas from six team members to generate problem-solving lists and build on your peers’ smartest concepts. This simple method’s title speaks for itself. Six stands for the number of participates per team, the three connotes the number of ideas per participant, and the five indicates the number of minutes per round each participant has to jot down their ideas.

To start, a team of six participants is presented with a problem statement. Each participant gets three, blank cards, one per each idea they have to invent within the next five minutes. After those five minutes are up, every person should have put one idea down on each card, after which they must pass those three cards to the people on their left.

Then, everyone looks over the ideas just handed to him or her. Each participant, in turn, has five minutes to add to those ideas, whether by coming up with relevant but new angles or further developing the exact thought dealt by the neighboring participant. When the next five minutes come to a close, participants have to pass the cards in their hands over to the left again, after which the process will repeat itself until everyone winds up with the cards they originally wrote.

Finally, you’ll need to make order out of all these new ideas. To do so, you should cluster and record these ideas in a chart. Date the chart so you can easily refer back to it when embarking on the next action step: turning these ideas into new realities for your team.

An ideal way to encourage group thinking without the confusion of disorganized, verbal meetings, the 6-3-5 method applies best to the innovative side of a business or when shifting management indicates time for change in a company’s processes.