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635 Method

Smartpedia: The 635 Method is a creativity technique in which 6 participants note 3 ideas each, which are supplemented by 3 new ideas in 5 alternations.

635 Method – collaborative creative via brainwriting

The 635 method is the best known variant of brainwriting. Brainwriting is about the development of ideas in a team and in contrast to brainstorming, probably the best known creativity technique, finding ideas is done in writing and thus non-verbally. The 635 method – also known as method 635 or 6-3-5 method oder 635 for short – was designed by Bernd Rohrbach, a German management consultant, in 1986. 6 participants each develop 3 ideas in 5 changes – hence the name of the 635 method. The setting is simple:

  • Each of the six participants receives a prepared sheet with the task and six rows with three columns each, i.e. 18 fields.
  • In the first round, each participant notes up to a maximum of three ideas in the top row in a predetermined time. Since creativity doesn’t work at the push of a button, it’s no big deal if less than three ideas come together.
  • After the first and each subsequent round, the sheets continue to rotate clockwise until one’s own sheet is in front of one again. For each round, three new or complementary ideas are noted in the next line. In practice, the use of pools – the shuffling of sheets in the middle of the table – is often practiced instead of the rotation of sheets. The anonymity of the ideas and thus the freedom of thought is maximised in the “brainwriting pool”.

The 635 method produces up to 108 ideas. At the end these ideas have to be discussed, grouped and evaluated in a team.

635 Method - 6 Participant, 3 ideas each round, 5 rotations, 108 ideas in total

Tips for the 635 Method

There are a number of tips that are useful when using the 635 method:

  • The template for the documentation should be uniformly designed / duplicated.
  • No one should write down their name on the sheets. Ideally, this is an anonymous method. Of course it can happen that the participants know each other well and can assign the different writing styles to individual colleagues. Nevertheless, the aim is to find ideas together and evaluate them independently of the author.
  • Uniform pens with identical colours should be used.
  • In later rounds, finding ideas may take a little longer than at the beginning of brainwriting. Here it is up to the moderator to provide a little more time.

Opinions differ as to whether additional sheets should also be made available for further ideas. The pro-argument is: the more ideas, the better. The contra-argument is: If an idea does not make it into one’s own “Top 18” (6 rounds with 3 ideas per person), then the idea is not worth dealing with. It is important to discuss an appropriate procedure from the beginning. If further ideas arise in a joint exchange after the 6 rounds, they are usually included in the assessment.


Impulse to discuss:

Could it be useful to ask different questions on each worksheet?

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