This article describes the Starbursting Brainstorming method in a practical way. After reading you will understand the definition, meaning and basics of this powerful brainstorming and creativity tool.
What is Starbursting Brainstorming?
Starbursting is an alternative way of brainstorming in which questions are generated systematically. It’s brainstorming, but without the focus on collecting answers and ideas, it focuses on generating questions. That makes Starbursting a useful brainstorming tool for decision making or problem solving, since participants of these brainstorming sessions will better understand what’s going on exactly. Other techniques tend to indirectly explore the new ideas and make decisions based on team discussions. Starbursting is a form of brainstorming that is focused on defining and collecting new ideas. This gives everyone insight into related factors. It gives them the opportunity to really think about something before coming up with a solution.
The Starbursting Brainstorming explained (video)
Asking questions is a useful way to understand a new idea. The goal of Starbursting is to have the whole team participate. Everyone is challenged to come up with ideas and find the right question in an elaborate way. The six open-ended questions are a handy tool for that: Why, What, When, How, Who and Where.
Generating a set of questions is incredibly important to understanding a new idea, concept, product, problem or (work) process. Because the participants get involved, they’ll be more loyal in the end and cooperate with the change. It enables each participant to accept challenges and come up with creative ideas and solutions.
In order to streamline the process, it’s best to assign a chairman or facilitator who leads the Starbursting meeting. He needs to make sure there’s a systematic flow of questions in a specific order and that the questions are relevant to the topic in question.
The Starbursting method works best in teams consisting of at least three people. It’s a simple but effective technique that makes team members think about a new product, problem or difficult decision. It is however advisable to appoint a facilitator and follow the steps below.
Step 1: Drawing the star
Draw a six-pointed star on a large sheet of paper. The idea, product, problem or project name is written in the centre. For instance, an online shop for women’s fashion that wants to launch a trendy teen clothing line would write down ‘teen clothing line’.
Step 2: Question groups
Write down a question group in each point of the star. There will be six words in the points of the star: Who, What, Why, Where, When and How. Next, these question groups can be discussed in a systematic order with the team.
Step 3: Asking questions
This is the most important step. For each question group, a variety of questions need to be asked regarding the topic. The questions aren’t supposed to be answered yet during this phase. The focus should remain on the question. The questions radiate from the central star:
- Who will wear the new teen clothing line? Who is responsible for the teen clothing line? Who are our competitors?
- What will be the name of the teen clothing line? What are the development costs? What is the best way to market it?
- How will this teen clothing line boost our business? How expensive will the ad campaign be? How do we include it on our website?
- Where will we sell this teen clothing line? Where do we place ads for the teen clothing line? Where does the financing come from? Where do we have the clothes manufactured?
- When will the teen clothing line be launched? When is the start of the first design? When do we communicate the teen clothing line?
- Why do we even need a teen clothing line? Why will teenagers like our clothing line? Why does this teen clothing line make us stand out from the competition?
Step 4: Answering questions
During this final phase, the Starbursting participants will answer the questions together. That way, they contribute to a vision for the new idea. For many questions and answers, new questions can be asked. By collecting the answers and filtering out the best ones, you get a clear idea that helps you get to a good and shared solution.
Now it’s Your Turn
What do you think? Is Starbursting Brainstorming applicable in your daily work? What is your experience with Starbursting and other form of brainstorming / tools? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more additions?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Cory, T. R. (2003). Brainstorming: Techniques for new ideas. iUniverse.
- Paulus, P. B., & Nijstad, B. A. (Eds.). (2003). Group creativity: Innovation through collaboration. Oxford University Press.
- Tallman, K. M. (2015). Developing student creativity in an engineering context. Proceedings of the Canadian Engineering Education Association.
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