The Pin card technique

Basic Types of Brainstorming: Pin card technique 

Pin-Card technique is another variation of Brainwriting method developed by the Battelle Institute (H. Geschka, et al., 1981)
The pin cards that can be small cards or post-its (each person having their own colour) are passed to the person on the immediate right, thus the card is passed around the table.  This encourages turn-taking and individual contributions and is basically self-facilitating, but is not anonymous. The procedure requires group members to write their ideas on different-colored cards and to pin them on a board for group examination.

Procedure Steps

1. A problem statement is written on a chalkboard or a pinboard which is visible to a 5-8 participants group round a table and the group discusses and clarifies it.
2. Stacks of colored cards are distributed among the group members, with each member receiving a different-colored stack.
3. The group members silently write down one idea on each card and placing it in a pile for their right-hand neighbour.
4. When group members need inspiration for generating additional ideas, they pick a card  from the pile created by their left-hand neighbour.  Fresh ideas triggered by this are written on new cards and are placed on the pile on their right. (The trigger card may be either retained or passed on at the same time.)
5. Thus the cards are transported round the table in the same direction from left to right of each participant. The leader should actively promote card circulation to avoid accumulation between particular participants.
6. After 20 to 30 minutes of this activity, the cards are gathered after and positioned on a large display board and sorted into idea categories, using title cards as headings for the different columns.
7. The group members read each card out, if necessary, move some cards to different categories and eliminate duplications. Categories can be adjusted and items re-categorised if appropriate.
8. The leader points to each card and asks for comments or questions to help clarify idea meanings. Because the ideas are color-coded, the originator of a particular idea can be easily determined and, if necessary, questions asked of this author.


The Pin-Card approach possesses many of the same advantages of brainwriting: it reduces anxiety for persons who have trouble verbalizing ideas in group situations, and a larger quantity of ideas can be generated than in most brainstorming. procedures.


A bottlenecks often develop when a group member receives more cards than he passes on and, second, the group members may feel a great deal of time pressure to generate as many ideas as possible.