The narrative Brainstorming tool comprises three steps; diverge, analyze, and converge. Besides non-narrative methods of capturing participant input, consider the following options when gathering narrative input from your participants.
With narrative brainstorming, first remember to embrace the rules of ideation. Prevent discussion while you are capturing their ideas. At the end of ideation, consider one last round robin for final contributions, allowing participants to say “pass” if they have nothing to add.
Keep in mind that the term “listing” may be more appropriate if you are collecting a known set of information. True brainstorming derives all future possibilities—anything goes. Beginning with the traditional, facilitator-led question and answer approach; consider the following.
Options to Consider for Narrative Brainstorming
- Facilitator-led questions—keep in mind that you can use a support scribe(s) but if so, remind them of the importance of neutrality and capturing complete verbatim inputs.
- Pass the pen or marker—again having prepared the easel title/ banner, have participants walk up to the easel in the order of an assigned round-robin sequence to document their contribution(s). This approach is wise after lunch or when participants’ energy is low because it gets participants up and moving around. Help them with their penmanship or clarity if necessary.
- Pass the sheet or card—particularly appropriate if time is short, the group is large, or you have many questions requiring input (distribute a writing pad or index card for each question). Write the question or title on individual large cards or sturdy-stock pieces of paper and either sitting or standing have the participants pass them around until each person has had the opportunity to make a contribution to each question. This approach helps reduce redundant answers since participants see what prior people have written.
- Post-it Notes—continue to use easels with sheet titles for posting the notes. Have individuals mount one idea per note. Allow as many notes as they want. Post them on the appropriate easel whose title/ question matches to their answer. If there is more than one question, you can color coordinate the easel title/ banner with the Post-it note colors.
- Round-robin—again having prepared the easel title/ banner, and perhaps in consort with a scribe(s), create an assigned order by which the participants one at a time offer content, permitting any of them to say “pass” at any time.
Consider time boxing the ideation step if necessary, typically in the five to ten minute range. Remember, the hard part is the analysis that occurs next. Find those discussions in other articles.
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