4. Brainwriting with Google Sheets

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In the previous video, you learned three brainstorming methods and how to select the appropriate exercise for your group. One possible method is Brainwriting, which is the silent, written generation of ideas in a group.

This is a great brainstorming activity if most members in your group prefer thinking of ideas on their own. In this video, you will complete a brainwriting exercise using Google Sheets. You will learn how to: Title and share a spreadsheet Rename individual sheets within the larger spreadsheet, Change formatting and colors to keep your ideas organized And wrap text within cells so your ideas are easy to read.

Brainwriting works in rounds. In Round 1, each group member will open the spreadsheet on their own computer and list ideas in a specific section of the sheet. In the following rounds, you will read through everyone else’s sections and build off of their ideas.

You won’t critique their ideas; instead, you will add input.

To keep your ideas flowing quickly, spend 15 minutes on this exercise.

Although you will work on the Brainwriting spreadsheet on your own computer, sit near your group in case you need to discuss anything together.

Then, select a timekeeper. This person will set a 3-minute timer for each brainstorming round. Next, select one group member to open the Starter Project labeled Brainwriting Template. Make a copy of the Spreadsheet and add it to your Drive.

Then, share it with everyone in the group and give each person editing access so they can add their ideas.

Rename the spreadsheet Brainwriting, plus the name of your scenario.

Decide as a group who will be Team Member 1, 2, 3, and so on.

If you have fewer team members, delete columns from the spreadsheet.

If you have additional team members, add them in a new column in the spreadsheet, and add a new individual sheet.

Each member will change both the header text and the name of the individual sheet from their team member number to their name.

Great! Now everyone has their own sheet within the shared spreadsheet!

The name in the first column of each sheet should be the same name of the individual sheet itself. Now that your Brainwriting Spreadsheet is formatted, start thinking of creative ideas!

Brainwriting works in quick rounds. In the first round, each person will enter as many ideas as possible in the individual sheet labeled with their name. Your timekeeper will make sure each round is only 3 minutes long.

At the end of Round 1, you’ll have lots of ideas listed in the first column of each sheet.

Brainwriting in a Google Spreadsheet enables you to build on each other’s ideas without criticism. You can see what each person has added and use their ideas as inspiration. After you’ve added your ideas into your individual sheet, go through the other group members’ sheets to build on theirs. Start with the sheet to the right of yours, or if you’re the last sheet, move to the first one. For example, team member 1 will go to team member 2’s sheet, read through each idea, and add their thoughts for how the ideas could be bigger or more detailed. Continue to move through the individual sheets until each team member has had a chance to build upon everyone’s ideas.

If you get stuck or need more inspiration, reference your notes from your earlier discussion or conduct a quick Google search to find out what others have tried for similar scenarios.

After brainwriting, you and your group members will have collaborated to come up with many more ideas than you might have on your own.

Now, it’s your turn: Open the Brainwriting Template, share it with your group, and rename it, Format the spreadsheet with color-coded font, and sheets for each group member, Set a 3-minute timer, And continue through multiple rounds until you’ve all built upon each other’s ideas in the sheet.


  1. Open the brainwriting template, share it with your group, and rename it.
  2. Format the spreadsheet with color-coded font and sheets for each group member.
  3. Set a 3-minute timer.
  4. Continue through multiple rounds until you’ve all built upon each other’s ideas in the sheet.