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Monday, January 9, 2012

Problem Solving by Brain Writing

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Problem Solving by Brain Writing

This exercise is apt for your training programs on problem solving techniques, creative problem solving, participative problem solving, creativity, brainstorming/brain writing, team work etc. As a faculty or leader of a workshop or seminar, you can choose a problem of a general nature that is somewhat familiar to your audience and then lead them in solving that problem by using brain writing technique rather than the conventional brain storming technique.

Brain writing engages the minds of even those participants who are shy of speaking in a group. The conventional brainstorming requires the members of the brainstorming group to offer their ideas by way of oral communication. In brain writing the ideas are written down by the members of the group.

To start the exercise display on the white board or the flip chart the statement of the problem- the problem that you want the group members to solve through their various suggestions.

For example the problem statement you choose may be: “In your opinion what are the various ways in which the human beings can tackle the environmental pollution problem?” Another suggested problem could be: “In your opinion what steps husband and wife can take to make theirs a happy marriage?” or “In your opinion what should be done in the organization to control the costs?” and so on.

You are free to choose any problem or you can even invite participants’ suggestions on selecting the problem. Having decided on the problem, paraphrase it in the form of a problem statement and display it for all to see all the time this exercise is on.

Distribute to each participant a blank A4 size paper and a pencil. Now ask them to write down on the paper as many suggestions they can think in order to solve the problem. They should give serial numbers to each of their suggestions and write in legible handwriting.

After every participant has consumed all of his suggestions, ask each participant to pass on his paper to the participant sitting next to him. Thus now every participant has a paper on which already some ideas have been noted. Let each participant read these earlier written ideas and if new ideas spring up in his mind he should add them below the already written suggestions by extending the serial numbers. The ideas should not be repeated. Only new ideas should be added up.

Again circulate the papers and repeat the exercise. This process will continue till the paper with the suggestions written by a particular person travels back to him.

Now ask the first person sitting nearest to you to read out loudly only the unique ideas noted on his paper. Repeated ideas if any should be skipped. As he reads the ideas one by one from his paper, you should write them on the white board or a large flip chart by giving each idea a serial number. When the first person exhausts all the suggestions from his paper, ask the second person to read out only the unique suggestions from the paper he is holding skipping out the repeat suggestions. Ask all the persons to read out the unique ideas this way and you should keep on extending the list on the white board/large flip chart. We will call this list a long list of ideas.

Now instruct that every participant should select out from the long list the most important five ideas- the ideas (which as per him) if implemented will solve a large degree of the problem. Advise them to maintain the objectivity. They need not write the entire description of the ideas on their writing pad but just pick up the serial numbers of the selected ideas as written on the white board (the long list). They should arrange those five selected ideas in terms of their importance and usefulness. Ask each participant to assign 5 marks to the most important idea, 4 marks to the next most important idea and so on till he assigns 1 mark to the least important idea.

Ask each participant turn by turn to shout out the serial number of their selected five ideas and the marks assigned to them. You will transfer those marks next to that idea on the long list on the white board/flip chart. It will be seen that some particular ideas will start accumulating more and more marks and some ideas may even be left out by all the participants. After you have collected the marks from all the participants and accumulated them against each of the ideas on the long list, total up the marks gained by each idea.

Now rearrange (by re-writing) the list of ideas in the descending order of the marks gained by them leaving out entirely those ideas which did not secure any marks from the audience.
Select out top few ideas (may be 5 to 6 ideas) from the newly rank ordered list of solutions in consultation with the audience. These will be those ideas if implemented will solve 90% to 95% of the stated problem.

The is a wonderful experiential learning exercise and you may not be required to explain much after the exercise is over. Your participants would have grasped the inputs that you meant to give them. The exercise will also act as an excellent energizer for the rest of your program.

Get Hold of the Related Books
You can order the following books on "management games and icebreakers" as printed books and eBooks from Amazon online:
  1. Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
  2. Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers (Volume 2)
  3. Classic Team Building Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
  4. 101 Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers

Related Reading: (Repository of a large number of articles in management and leadership): and

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Alphabetic List of of Management Topics and Their Site URLs
(The term "management" here does not limit itself to just about business management but it encompasses management of all kinds of things like life management, home management, family management, health management, travel management, food management and so on).

Home Pages for All the Topics

1. (Home Pages for Brief Introduction to All the Business Management Topics and

2. (Home Page for All General and Psychological Counseling)

3. (Home Page for All Home Tips: Home and Family Management

4. (Home Page for All Products: Products Knowledge Management

Topics Starting with Numbers

(5S Housekeeping)
(5S Housekeeping at Home: Home Management

Topics Starting with Alphabets

(ABC Analysis or Pareto Analysis or 80/20 Rule) or
(Activity Based Costing- ABC)
(Anecdotes in Management)
(Anger Management)
(Articles, blogs and knols of Shyam Bhatawdekar: Home Page)
(Assessment Centers)
(Authentic and Free Management Notes)
(A to Z of Management Systems)
(A to Z of Quality Techniques)

(Balanced Scorecard)
(Basic Statistics)
(Behavioral Safety)
(Body Language or Non-verbal Communication)
(Books- Best Books)
(Books- Best Management Books)
(Branding- Personal/Professional Branding or
(Business Ethics and Ethics in Management)
(Business Plan)
(Business Process ReengineeringBPR

(Career Planning within Organizations)
(Case Method)
(Case Studies in Management)
(CEO Roles, Qualities and Competencies)
(Change Management)
(Child Development: Stories for Children
(Children’s Behavior Problems: Family Management
(Competencies- Life Management
(Competency Matrix/Competency Mapping: Success by Building Competencies/Skills)
(Competency Mapping)
(Competency Matrix)
(Conflict Management)
(Corporate Governance)
(Cost Management)
(Cost of Quality- COQ
(Counseling at Workplace)
(Counseling: Psychological)
(Creativity- Out of Box Articles
(Creativity and Innovation)
(Critical Thinking skills)
(Cross Cultural Etiquette and Manners)
(Customer Orientation)
(Customer Relationship management- CRM

(Daily Management)
(Decision Making)

(Effectiveness and Efficiency)
(Effectiveness Management: HSoftware
(Efficiency Techniques: Work study: Motion and Time Study)
(Efficient Work Methods or Practices)
(Email Etiquette)
(Emotional Intelligence)
(Enterprise Resource Planning- ERP
(Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneur)
(Entertainment Management- English Movies
(Entertainment Management- Hindi Movies
(Executive Etiquette and Manners)
(Exit Interview)

(Financial Ratios and Financial Ratio Analysis)

(Financial Services)
(Free and Authentic Notes on Management)
(Functions of Management)
(Food Management: Recipes, Easy to Cook
(Food Management: Recipes, Exotic)

(Games and Icebreakers for Trainers)
(Gemba Kaizen
(General Knowledge Management- GK
(General Knowledge Management- Top 5/Top 10 of Everything
(Genuine Professional- Long Article
(Global Mindset)
(Goal/Target Setting)
(Good Boss)
(Great Professional)
(Group Discussion)
(Group Discussion for Job Seekers and Students)
(Group Dynamics)

(Health and Safety Management)

(Health Management- Cholesterol Control
(Health Management- Homeopathy
(Health Management- Exercises
(Health Management- Quit Smoking
(Health management- Swine Flu and Its Prevention
(Health Management- Walking
(How to Be a Good Boss?)
(How to Get Promoted?)
(How to Save Money?)
(How to Save Money?- Long Comprehensive Article)
(Home Management- Home Page for All Home Tips
(HR Dynamics)
(HR Strategies and Functions)
(Human Capital Architecture)
(Human Relations)
(Human Resource Management- Comprehensive Coverage of HRM)
(Human Resource Planning)
(Human Software- HSoftware)

(I Am Liberated- Life Management)
(I Am OK, You Are OK)
(Icebreakers and Energizers)
(Internal Motivation or Self Motivation)
(Interpersonal Relations)
(Interview Skills)
(Interview Preparation for Job Seekers)
(Interview Questions)

(Johari Window)
(Just in Time Management- JIT

(Knowledge Management)

(Lead Time Management)
(Leadership) and
(Lean Enterprise)
(Learning Organization)
(Life Management- Latest HSoftware Model)
(Life Management- I Am Liberated; Freedom from Shackles and Burdens)
(Life Management: Success in Life)
(Life Management: My Exotic Dream: World Peace and Other Good Things of Life)
(Life Positions and OKness)
(Life Skills)

(Management Anecdotes)
(Managenent Books- Best Books)
(Management Book- Best Books)
(Management Games, Management Exercises, Icebreakers and Energizers)
(Managing Life- Freedom from Shackles and Burdens)
(Management in Life, Profession, Family and Society)
(Management Information System- MIS
(Managing/conducting Meetings)
(Management Notes- Free and Authentic)
(Marginal Utility)
(Marketing Management Overview)
(Marketing Orientation)
(Marketing Management Tasks)
(Market research)
(Market Segmentation)
(Money Management: How to Save Money
(Money Management: How to Save Money- Long Comprehensive Article)
(Management Encyclopedia- Everything on Management and Leadership)

(Negotiation Skills)
(Negotiation Tactics)
(Non-verbal Communication or Body Language)

(Objection Handling)
(OKness or Life Positions)
(Opportunities in Recession)
(Organization Development- OD
(Organizational Culture)
(Out of Box Ideas)
(Ownership on Job)

(Paradigm and Paradigm Shift)
(Parental Responsibilities- family management
(Pareto Analysis or ABC Analysis or 80/20 Rule) or
(Participative Processes, Participative Management- Democracy)
(Performance Management: Wholesome HR System)
(Performance Management and Appraisal)
(Personal Branding) or
(Positive Strokes)
(Presentation Skills)
(Problem Solving)
(Product Knowledge: Home Page for All Products)
(Product Knowledge- Cars
(Product Knowledge- Chocolates
(Product Knowledge- Flowers
(Product Knowledge- Greeting Cards
(Product Knowledge- Cell Phones
(Professional- Genuine Professional)
(Professional Branding) or
(Profit Improvement)
(Project Management)
(Psychological Strokes)
(Public Speaking)

(Qualities of CEO)
(Quality Circles History)
(Quality Circles)
(Quality Function Deployment- QFD and House of Quality)
(Quality Gurus)

(Recession: How to Avert Recession, How to Combat Recession and Then, How to Move Ahead?)
(Recession Management)
(Recession: Opportunities in Recession)
(Recruitment and Selection)
(Research Methodology)

(Safety and Health Management)
(Sales/Selling Process)
(Sales Promotion)
(Save Money)
(Self-awareness: Getting Introduced to Self)
(Self Development)
(Self Motivation or Internal Motivation)
(Shyam Bhatawdekar's articles, blogs and knols: Home Page)
(Shyam Bhatawdekar's Effectiveness Model- HSoftware
(Six Sigma)
(Six Thinking Hats)
(Soft Skills)
(Soft Skills/Competencies: Details of Each Competency)
(Spiritual Quotient/Intelligence)
(Stories for Children for Child Development)
(Statistics- Basics)
(Strategic Management)
(Stress Management)
(Stress Management: Stress Freedom: Long Comprehensive Article)
(Success in Life: Life Management)
(Supply Chain Management)
(Supply and Demand)
(Swine Flu and Its Prevention)

(Talent Management)
(Team Building)
(Telephone Etiquette)
(Three Sixty Degrees Appraisal System)
(Time Management)
(Total Productive Maintenance- TPM
(Total Quality Management- TQM
(Training and Development)
(Training Games)
(Trainers’ Qualities)
(Train the Trainers)
(Train the Trainers)
(Training of Trainers- Comprehensive at One Place)
(Transaction Analysis- TA
(Tourism, Travel and Sightseeing Management- India
(Tourism, Travel and Sightseeing Management- World
(Tourism, Trave and Sightseeing Management- World Heritage Sites
(TRIZ: Inventive Problem Solving)

(Value Engineering/Analysis)

(Winners and Losers)
(Work Study: Method Study and Work Measurement)
(Work Methods or Practices: Efficient)
(World Class Manufacturing)
(Writings of Shyam Bhatawdekar on Management)
(Written Communication)

(Zero Based Budgeting)

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