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What is Starbursting?

Smartpedia: Starbursting is a creativity method that uses questions to illuminate facets of a topic before seeking answers to the questions.

Starbursting – systematically finding questions and answers

Brainstorming is a creativity technique in which a group of people work together to try to solve a task by collecting and developing ideas. Starbursting is a variation of the brainstorming process in which participants are encouraged to ask questions in the first step before identifying answers to the questions and thus solutions or ideas in the second step.

Starbursting – sometimes called starbursting brainstorming or starbursting technique – is based on six questions arranged in a star shape around the formulated topic, problem, idea, challenge, project or product. The following questions need to be answered:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?

Tips for successful Starbursting

Starbursting is about gathering suggestions, ideas or hints by systematising questions that help participants think of important questions and aspects of a topic. The following tips have proven effective in practice:

  • At the beginning of the format, the facilitator describes the method (collect all relevant questions on a defined topic) with the objective (find answers to all relevant questions on a topic). He explains the deliberate separation between the two parts (collecting questions, finding answers) and sets timeboxes for the parts – if necessary, gladly in consultation with the participants.
  • A sensible scope for the relevance of questions results from the context (or the system context in the case of technical topics) and the participants. For example, if the team consists of buyers, it might not make much sense for them to discuss the target audience for the development of a new product.
  • Depending on the number of participants, it may make sense to collect individual questions in subgroups.
  • Visualisation of the starbursting diagram with all relevant questions.
  • Successive brainstorming at eye level or brainwriting (both also in subgroups if necessary) to answer the relevant questions.

Last but not least: If the given timebox is not sufficient to answer the questions, a new round, a new round with changed subgroups or a completely new appointment could be arranged with all participants.

Starbursting - systematically finding questions and answers

Impulse to discuss:

With its structure, Starbursting as a method stands out from classic brainstorming. Could it make sense to define additional open questions such as “what for”, “how often” or “how much”?


There are different interpretations for the English noun burst. Accumulation, explosion or breakthrough fit well in the context of starbursting. Questions accumulate quickly, the amount can increase explosively, and the questions arranged in a star shape around the topic increase the chance of successfully breaking through it.

Here you can find a video about Starbursting.

You can download a Starbursting template here.

Here you can download the Ideation Whitepaper free of charge. It explains many more practical methods of idea generation in detail.

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