6(x) -3-5 Method

The 6(x)-3-5 method is a brain-writing technique that generates and develops ideas by asking six (more or less) participants to write, within five minutes, three ideas on separate cards. These cards are then passed along to other participants for further refinement or additional ideas.


  • Duration
    Short (up to 30 minutes)
  • Complexity
  • Group size
    4 to 12 persons

This activity is suitable online.

Description Long

The original 6-3-5 method was developed as an alternative to brainstorming methods for provoking and stimulating creativity, originally developed in the late 1960s by Bernd Rohrbach. It is considered as brainstorming through the medium of graphics and has been further developed over the years to address the issues of brainstorming. Similarly to brainstorming the focus is placed on the quantity of ideas and not their quality. The 6-3-5 brain-writing technique is very straightforward, easy to learn and efficient since it allows producing 108 ideas in 30 minutes with no particular experience required by the supervisor. Moreover, nobody is in charge of recording ideas since it is done on the fly by the participants with the obvious advantage of being able to track ownership of each idea during and after the session. This technique eliminates the previously noted brainstorming issues of verbal traffic jams, monopoly of a session by certain members, and draining of mental faculties and should reduce concerns about the opinion of other group members. Introverts are also more encouraged to contribute since no direct interaction with the other group members is required. This method has disadvantages of its own where for instance the time constraints might prove severe for some participants, so a bit of training could be required. MacNaught also notes that without the verbal communication of brainstorming and people providing suggestions ideas might not develop as far. A notable deficiency of brain-writing is the complete lack of group dynamics.


  1. All participants are required to share a deep background knowledge on the topic of the session.
  2. It is of advantage that through a preliminary discussion, the group focuses on identifying the problem to be solved or the aim to be pursued. This can either occur through as independent initiative of the group or guided by the supervisor.


Online: prepare a solution to rotate questions so that several people can work on them (mail, drive, online forms...)


  1. Every participant writes the problem statement at the top of a blank 6(x)-3-5 worksheet (word for word from an agreed problem definition).
  2. They then write 3 ideas, on the top row of the worksheet in a complete and concise sentence (6-10 words).
  3. After five minutes the worksheets are passed on to the next person upon which each participant writes down another 3 ideas, that add on to the previous ideas or suggest improvements.
  4. The process continues until the worksheet is completed resulting into a total of 108 ideas on the 6 worksheets.

Hints from experience

Write the ideas in silence to prevent participants from influencing each other.


The method can also be used very well in the phase "Closing 1".



Tools list

  • Worksheets, prepared
  • Paper and pencil




MacNaught, S. (2014). 108 Ideas In 30 Minutes - The 6-3-5 Method OF Brainwriting. BLOGSESSION. Retrieved from blogsession.co.uk/2014/03/635-method-brainwriting/


Boutanios, Z. (2015). Creativity Measurement and the 6-3-5 Brainwriting Method. Retrieved from www.fsb.unizg.hr/brodogradnja/UZIR-Essay-Boutanios-Ziad.pdf



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