Electronic or online brainstorming

Online brainstorming (Brainlining) 

Types of Brainstorming

Author: Peter Lloyd

1. Description

Electronic brainstorming or simply Online brainstorming (Brainlining) is the modern version of brainstorming. The word brainlining is combined with the words ‘brainstorming’ and ‘online’, and also refers to live, real-time brainstorming sessions.
It is done virtually, whereby people can be connected from different regions and countries. Online brainstorming is conducted in the same way as traditional brainstorming the only difference is the absence of physical or visual presence.

2. The main characteristics of the technique

1. Participants with an electronic meeting system, create a shared list of ideas over the Internet.
2. All participants to enter ideas independently and simultaneously.
3. All ideas are recorded and become immediately visible to all.
4. All ideas are available to all participants during and after the session.
5. Ideas are typically anonymized to encourage openness and reduce personal prejudice. Anonymity is covered through the use of avatars.
6.  In online brainstorming, the moderator does play a more pivotal role.  Brainlining also introduces the leadership of a trained moderator who conducts each session and introduces special stimulants during the session
7. Brainlining sessions can be set up within a couple of hours and can last anywhere from several hours to several weeks. The participants are thus allowed to think constructively and the volume of ideas does often tend to be larger and more versatile than those gathered from traditional brainstorming.

3. Forms of the method

Brainlining describes several methods of generating ideas that have been taking place online.  There are many mediums available to perform such an activity:
1. E-Mail Brainstorming. Using e-mail the facilitator solicits ideas from individual team members.  Replies are sent back to the facilitator who compiles them and sends them back out to the team members for further responses. Brainlining clients are e-mailed a list of all of the ideas generated.
2. Forums. Online forums can be thought of as ongoing brainstorming sessions to the extent that they allow for the free flow of ideas. Online services such as Compuserve’s creativity forum provide a vast cross-disciplinary congregation, worldwide in scope, which provides the most diverse, intelligent and unique global think-tank imaginable.
3. Online forms. Participants can log in to a secure Web page and contribute their ideas when it’s most convenient for them. As ideas are submitted, they are stored in a secure database. It can be an online form of professional idea-generators, which Lloyd calls “Idea Crews.”
4. These brainlining sessions make use of games designed for the peculiar dynamics of online idea generation. Brainlining games stimulate the flow of ideas, encourage humour, and make the process fun.
5. Peer-to-peer software
a. Chat.
b. Intranets.
c. Video-conferencing.
d. Skype.

4. General Rules

1. The Moderator is in charge; one has to follow the Moderator’s directions.
2. The Moderator states the problem and announces a letter of the alphabet.
3. All Brainliners make Suggestions using the given letter.
4. The games are played with intensity, mutual support and fun.
Play continues until the Moderator gives a new letter or stops the game.


The facilitator sends the question out to group members, and they contribute independently by sending their ideas directly back to the facilitator.
The facilitator then compiles a list of ideas and sends it back to the group for further feedback.

5. Advantages

Brainlining is extremely efficient. By this method, more ideas are generated and shared with less conformity than in a traditional brainstorming or brainwriting session.
1. It eliminates many of the problems of standard brainstormings, such as production blocking and evaluation apprehension.
2. Members of brainlining sessions tend to participate more freely. The brainstorming technique allows contributors to post their comments anonymously that sidestep social barriers.
2. The most important feature of brainlining is cross-pollination. The Internet provides a vast, cross-disciplinary congregation, worldwide in scope, which provides the most diverse, intelligent. Brainlining sessions enlist people of divergent interests and expertise.
3.  The benefits of electronic brainstorming increase with group size.
4.  All ideas can be archived electronically in their original form, and then retrieved later for further thought and discussion.