Brainstorming Exercise: The Shifting Technique

Brainstorming Exercise: The Shifting Technique


In this exercise delegates learn about an effective brainstorming technique that aims to take advantage of personal and group creativity. In classic brainstorming sessions, some members might feel too shy or threatened to present their ideas or to challenge bad ideas. Another common problem is group think; the group can end up exploring a particular area for solutions and ignore all others by remaining too focused on the current ideas. The Shifting Technique helps you to systematically avoid these issues.


Brainstorm on a problem as a group, then work individually, then brainstorm again based on personal and group ideas identified so far. Repeat as often as necessary.


  • Ask the delegates to pick a topic that they plan to brainstorm on. Ideally they can select a topic related to work so the results are meaningful and the exercise is useful.
  • Ask the delegates to get closer to each other and brainstorm on the topic. They can use any method they like.
  • Allocate 5 minutes for this part.
  • Now ask the delegates to spread out and work in private on the problem to come up with more ideas and solutions. They can record their ideas on paper if they wish.
  • Allocate 3 minutes.
  • Bring back everyone together and ask them to present their ideas systematically one by one to the group. Each person has 1 minute to do so. The ideas should then be discussed and considered for another minute.
  • Once everyone has presented, delegates have another 3 minutes to discuss the options in the group and brainstorm for an ideal final solution.
  • Follow with a discussion to highlight the power of this technique.


Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes

Activity: 5 min initial brainstorm + 3 min private thinking + (1*N min presentation of ideas + 1*N discussion of the presented idea + 3 min final discussions) = 27 minutes for 8 people

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


What did you think of the Shifting Technique? Were you able to come up with many more ideas after everyone had a chance to think in private? What did you think of the second brainstorming session after everyone had a chance to think about the problem in their own and bring fresh ideas to the group? Were you able to come up with a better solution in the second brainstorming session than in the first one? What is your overall view of this technique?

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