Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers: Problem Solving by Brain Writing

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Problem Solving by Brain Writing

This exercise is apt for your training programs on problem solving techniques, creative problem solving, participative problem solving, creativity, brainstorming/brain writing, team work etc. As a faculty or leader of a workshop or seminar, you can choose a problem of a general nature that is somewhat familiar to your audience and then lead them in solving that problem by using brain writing technique rather than the conventional brain storming technique.

Brain writing engages the minds of even those participants who are shy of speaking in a group. The conventional brainstorming requires the members of the brainstorming group to offer their ideas by way of oral communication. In brain writing the ideas are written down by the members of the group.

To start the exercise display on the white board or the flip chart the statement of the problem- the problem that you want the group members to solve through their various suggestions.

For example the problem statement you choose may be: “In your opinion what are the various ways in which the human beings can tackle the environmental pollution problem?” Another suggested problem could be: “In your opinion what steps husband and wife can take to make theirs a happy marriage?” or “In your opinion what should be done in the organization to control the costs?” and so on.

You are free to choose any problem or you can even invite participants’ suggestions on selecting the problem. Having decided on the problem, paraphrase it in the form of a problem statement and display it for all to see all the time this exercise is on.

Distribute to each participant a blank A4 size paper and a pencil. Now ask them to write down on the paper as many suggestions they can think in order to solve the problem. They should give serial numbers to each of their suggestions and write in legible handwriting.

After every participant has consumed all of his suggestions, ask each participant to pass on his paper to the participant sitting next to him. Thus now every participant has a paper on which already some ideas have been noted. Let each participant read these earlier written ideas and if new ideas spring up in his mind he should add them below the already written suggestions by extending the serial numbers. The ideas should not be repeated. Only new ideas should be added up.

Again circulate the papers and repeat the exercise. This process will continue till the paper with the suggestions written by a particular person travels back to him.

Now ask the first person sitting nearest to you to read out loudly only the unique ideas noted on his paper. Repeated ideas if any should be skipped. As he reads the ideas one by one from his paper, you should write them on the white board or a large flip chart by giving each idea a serial number. When the first person exhausts all the suggestions from his paper, ask the second person to read out only the unique suggestions from the paper he is holding skipping out the repeat suggestions. Ask all the persons to read out the unique ideas this way and you should keep on extending the list on the white board/large flip chart. We will call this list a long list of ideas.

Now instruct that every participant should select out from the long list the most important five ideas- the ideas (which as per him) if implemented will solve a large degree of the problem. Advise them to maintain the objectivity. They need not write the entire description of the ideas on their writing pad but just pick up the serial numbers of the selected ideas as written on the white board (the long list). They should arrange those five selected ideas in terms of their importance and usefulness. Ask each participant to assign 5 marks to the most important idea, 4 marks to the next most important idea and so on till he assigns 1 mark to the least important idea.

Ask each participant turn by turn to shout out the serial number of their selected five ideas and the marks assigned to them. You will transfer those marks next to that idea on the long list on the white board/flip chart. It will be seen that some particular ideas will start accumulating more and more marks and some ideas may even be left out by all the participants. After you have collected the marks from all the participants and accumulated them against each of the ideas on the long list, total up the marks gained by each idea.

Now rearrange (by re-writing) the list of ideas in the descending order of the marks gained by them leaving out entirely those ideas which did not secure any marks from the audience.

Select out top few ideas (may be 5 to 6 ideas) from the newly rank ordered list of solutions in consultation with the audience. These will be those ideas if implemented will solve 90% to 95% of the stated problem.

The is a wonderful experiential learning exercise and you may not be required to explain much after the exercise is over. Your participants would have grasped the inputs that you meant to give them. The exercise will also act as an excellent energizer for the rest of your program.

Get Hold of the Related Books

You can order the following books on “management games and icebreakers” as printed books and eBooks from Amazon online:

  1. Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
  2. Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers (Volume 2)
  3. Classic Team Building Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers
  4. 101 Classic Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers

For More Guidance, Assistance, Training and Consultation


Training in all the soft skills and various management functions/techniques is imparted by Prodcons Group’s Mr Shyam Bhatawdekar and/or Dr (Mrs) Kalpana Bhatawdekar, eminent management educationists, management consultants and trainers- par excellence, with distinction of having trained over 150,000 people from around 250 organizations.

Also refer: (Prodcons Group), (Training Programs by Prodcons Group), (Productivity Consultants)


About Shyam Bhatawdekar

35 years’ industrial/business experience as a top executive & 35 years’ parallel academic/consultancy experience in general management, behavioral sciences & technology. Areas: general management, production, human resources, industrial engineering, systems, MIS, computers, corporate planning, audit, sales/marketing. Penchant for information technology & behavioral sciences; integrated with conventional technology makes him unique thought leader. Conversant with academic theories & realities of business, fuses the two into practical approaches. Was associated with Tata Motors, Hindustan Motors, Hindustan Aeronautics & ThyssenKrupp; held top positions as highflier executive. Presently Chairman & Managing Director, Prodcons Group associating with 250 organizations; providing management & I T consultations & conducting seminars/workshops. Been a faculty for IIM’s, TMTC, Railway & HAL Staff Colleges, Symbiosis. Speaker with 35000 hours’ experience benefitting more than 100,000 people. Published 35 articles in Economic Times, Indian Management & Computers Today. Authored 27 books. Invited as key speaker in seminars by AIMA, HRD Network, NIPM, QCFI, CSI, NPC. Widely traveled. Education: Engineering & Management.
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6 Responses to Management Games, Exercises, Energizers and Icebreakers: Problem Solving by Brain Writing

  1. deepa says:

    Nice site, good content.

  2. Mccayde says:

    Always refreshing to hear a rational answer.

  3. Bedete says:

    Great, it’s a cool stuff.

  4. Clotildes says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

  5. Darvik says:

    Is it always necessary to reach for one single final conclusion in Brain Writing or aim of Brain Writing is just to generate ideas? At the end of example that you demonstrated you clearly listed 5 ideas according to their importance so is it the case that idea with highest score can be assumed as the solution of the problem. My doubt is basically that can we reach to some final conclusion?

  6. Shyam Bhatawdekar says:

    Hi Darvik,
    Thanks for raising your question. Here is my comment:
    Most of the times a problem may need more than one action to completely solve it. Through brain writing one tries to sift out the top few (“A” class) actions from the other many trivial actions in a rational and participative way. Such consensus building helps a great deal in smooth implementation. However, at times you may need to implement just one best idea to solve the problem completely. In that case, as indicated by you, the idea with the highest score is the obvious winner.

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