Innovation methods: 6-3-5 method

A very popular innovation method, especially in creative processes, is the so-called 6-3-5 method. It falls into the category of brainwriting techniques, but its freedom of design goes even further. It stands out because it is based on the various ideas of the participants and systematically expands them. Because of this approach, it is also very popular in design thinking workshops.

A great advantage of the method is that it can often be applied very spontaneously in an innovation workshop. My experience shows that even completely untrained participants came up with new and disruptive ideas by using the 6-3-5 method. The aim is to develop as many ideas as possible in as short a time as possible. The workshop leader will challenge the participants to pick up existing ideas and develop them further.


Procedure of the 6-3-5 method

It is said that up to 108 ideas can be created with this innovation method. However, it takes up to six participants to make this possible.

At the beginning, a problem to be solved is presented by means of a short concise sentence. When all participants have understood the challenge, they are given a prepared sheet. There are 3 columns and 6 rows printed on it, which leads to 18 boxes at the end. Each participant is asked to write down three ideas to solve the problem in the first row. After about five minutes, the sheets are passed on in a circle to the next workshop participant. The next workshop participant should now try to take up and supplement the ideas already written down or develop them further.


advantages and challenges of the method

Probably the biggest advantage of the 6-3-5 method is that it is better structured than classical brainwriting and produces a minimum output of ideas.

However, this very structure can also inhibit and influence one’s own creativity, since one is limited by the ideas of the predecessor. The anonymity of brainwriting is also completely missing in this innovation method.


Nevertheless, everyone should test the 6-3-5 method, who wants to generate many solutions in as short a time as possible. Especially in the first innovation phase, in which new ideas are to be generated, it is one of the most efficient methods.

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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