Description :

Teams brainstorm ideas for the possible use of a specific item. It could be anything: a shopping bag, bandana, paper clip etc. The bottom line is that each team brainstorms about the same object. This is a competition, the quantity of ideas counts!

This is a great warm up before a serious brainstorming session. It can also serve as a separate energiser when your group needs to have a break or some fun for a moment. We use this activity when we notice a decrease in the energy level or engagement while doing creativity work.

Methodology :
  1. Divide the group into at least two smaller teams. Each team should consist of at least 2 and up to 8 people.
  2. Give the following verbal instructions:
    • It’s a competition to come up with as many applications as possible for this item (show the item now).
    • It’s the quantity of ideas that counts, not the quality.
    • The team with the most ideas will win.
    • You must also be able to present each idea, showing how it works in practice.
    • Work with the whole team.
    • Remember the basic rules of brainstorming:
      • you don’t judge ideas,
      • you don’t criticize,
      • you develop other people’s ideas,
      • ‘crazy’ ideas are very much appreciated
  3. Ask if there are any questions. If not, give them 12 minutes for brainstorming
  4. After that time let them finish writing the last idea.
  5. Invite groups to present their results. Every group shows one idea in a round, take as many rounds as you need. Sometimes there are so many ideas that after 15 minutes of a presentation you’ll have to conclude to keep the course timetable.

Here are some photos from a Brainstorming Energizer session using shopping bags:


The following questions might be useful:

  • Was it easy / difficult to come up with this number of ideas?
  • What supported your brainstorming session/ what kind of behavior was stimulating/limiting?
  • What would be your advice for effective brainstorming?

We recommend this short video on brainstorming session carried out by IDEO experts:

Time :
30′ (for up to 20 participants, larger group will need more time)
Materials :
  • Brainstorming object, one identical subject for each group, e.g: shopping bag, bandana, scarf, paper clip, tennis ball etc (sky is the limit :-))
  • Piece of paper and pens for each group – for writing down each idea group come up with
Outcomes :

Elevated energy, good atmosphere, readiness for brainstorming or other creative work