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Brainstorming is nearly 80 and on life support. Try Method 6-3-5 instead.

Brainstorming is a waste of time, ruined by the hippo in the room. It’s time to scrap this outdated 1942 idea for something new.


In the 1940s, brainstorming was created by the famous advertising agency BDO to improve campaigns.

The beloved HIPPO is aka the "HIghest Paid Person’s Opinion". When the hippo speaks up, everyone fits in!

One of the techniques I learned recently is Method 6-3-5.

You needn’t boot out the hippo, just grab six participants, mull over three ideas, and go through five rounds of ideation.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Establish groups of 6.

  2. Explain the issue or challenge facing the group. Each person writes down 3 solutions to that problem.

  3. Now, pass the paper (with your 3 solutions) to the person on your left. They read those 3 ideas, and add to them or add new ideas.

  4. Rinse and repeat 5 times.

  5. At the end you can see your original ideas plus 15 others!

  6. Participants vote on the top 3 ideas from their group.

The outcome is that each person can safely add to the overall set of ideas without direct influence or judgment.

6-3-5 takes about an hour.

Most importantly, the quiet, smart people get their ideas out so you get the best solutions!

... now we just need to deal with that ELEPHANT in the room.

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