The Best 10-Minute Brainstorming Workshop

Simon Tratnik
  • 5
    min read
  • Simon Tratnik
    Apr 9, 2024

Howdy, Workshopper!

Are you a designer or consultant? If yes, chances are that you’ve hosted several brainstorming sessions—or maybe you're planning to. Well, lucky you, you've just stumbled on the best brainstorming workshop tailor-suited to your needs. 

Brainstorming sessions are supposed to be creative meetings that spark innovation and produce solutions to problems. However, they are fast becoming a fancy term for pointless group discussions. In many cases, they’re characterized by yelling and frustration with no results at the end of the day. Often, they go in line with the loudest person's wishes, neglecting the essential contribution of the introverted team members.

But why are brainstorming sessions so ineffective, you may ask? The answer is simple — the inability to consider the team's dynamics, including personalities, human nature, and social rankings. But don't fret, because we've got you covered.

If you've hosted brainstorming sessions before, this workshop will uncover the lapses in your technique and show you how to navigate them for better results. For first-time facilitators (we mean you), you'll learn everything you need to know about hosting effective brainstorming sessions without stress.

Are you ready? Let's get started!


1. Workshop Overview
2. Introduction to 10 for 10
3. Step 1: Generate
4. Step 2: Curate
5. Step 3: Vote
6. Step 4: Arrange
7. Conclusion 

Workshop Overview

Workshop Name 10 for 10
Workshop outcome List of solutions or ideas to carry out a challenge.
Time Approx 10 minutes
Participants Minimum 2; Maximum 10
Materials needed - A whiteboard (you can use a flipchart if you prefer)
- A block of square sticky notes for each participant
- 1 sharpie per team member
- Voting dots - Timer

Introduction to 10 for 10 Workshop 

The 10-minute brainstorming session is our go-to brainstorming method at Human1st. Not only is it effective, it's fun, fast, and easy to implement. It addresses the problems that typically group thinking faces in the most exciting and convenient ways ever. With this method, your team will look forward to the next brainstorming session for the value it offers. 

Also called “the 10 for 10,” this technique is so lightweight, you only need a topic to begin. Plus, since it has very few shortcomings, it can be applied in a variety of brainstorming sessions regardless of the subject matter. 

So, does your team wish to generate ideas for an app’s new features or an ad copy for a new Facebook account? Maybe you need a fire headline for that new landing page, a plan for a corporate event, or just want to transform your office environment. So long as it's something that requires group brainstorming, this technique has got you covered!

To begin the brainstorming session, you'll be required to do is convert your topic into a “How Might We (HMW)” phrase. This guarantees that you have a topic or challenge that spurs you to take action instead of wasting time with unproductive discussions. 

The example how to transform problem into How-Might-We statement which is standardise form of a challenge that helps them come up with ideas much quicker.

For example, let's assume that the topic you have in mind is “We have to explore new methods for increasing our company's revenue.” Phrased this way, this topic gives ample room for long hours of deliberation, which harms the brainstorming process in the long run. On the other hand, an HMW topic will read, “How might we increase our company's revenue?” With this, the team cuts out unnecessary discussions and delves straight into action mode.

Now that you've understood the basics of the brainstorming workshop, you're all set to conduct the most effective brainstorming session you've ever participated in, using the steps below.

Step 1: Generate 

Time: 5 minutes 

The first step after forming your HMW follows one of our primary principles for brainstorming, “Together Alone.” As the name suggests, the team works together towards one goal, but individually, anonymously, without discussion and sharing. Although your team may need some time to get used to this process, they'll have it no other way when they do.

To make this stage more fun, we advise that you compile some enjoyable music that would be fine and non-distracting for the team. This way, the silence doesn't feel awkward.

Now, this stage is strictly for idea generation. Note that the goal here isn’t to get great ideas but as many ideas as possible. In other words, we prioritize Quantity over Quality in this first step. So, ensure that you emphasize this so that your team members understand.

Instruct the group to write their numerous ideas (at least 15) legibly and silently using their sticky notes and sharpies, with no more than one idea per note. Don’t forget to mention that their ideas would be anonymous, to ensure that no one feels pressured to write good ones only. 

The team should end this exercise after 5 minutes. At this time, each participant should have a large stack of sticky notes full of ideas before them. Note that many of these ideas wouldn’t make it to the next stage because the team focused on quantity not quantity, and that’s perfectly fine.

Bonus Tip: Some team members may be hardwired to put their best into everything, so they may get stuck as they attempt to document only their best ideas even without realizing it. Help them to stick with the plan by spurring them in the right direction whenever you notice that they’re thinking too much and not writing.

Below is an example of a typical HMW question and possible answers:

Example of sticky note as how might we statement as standardise challenge.

Here are some of the ideas aka solutions that participants might have written:

Example of sticky notes of what solutions participants could write down in first step of 10 for 10 workshops.

Step 2: Curate 

Time: 1 minute 

After the idea generation stage, you should move into the curation phase immediately. Here, the ideas are sorted to prioritize the great ones over the not-so-good ones. To get this done:

  1. Let each team member select the 10 best ideas from their piles of sticky notes 
  2. Get them to throw the ideas they didn’t choose out
  3. Now, let them randomly stick the selected ideas on a whiteboard, wall, or whatever surface was created for the purpose

Note: The ideas should be mixed up, so no participant should group or categorize their ideas in any way.

Here's a good example of how your whiteboard should look like upon completing this stage:

In 10 for 10 brainstorming exercise the facilitator in the step 2 gives instructions to participants to pick 10 best ideas from their pool of ideas on sticky notes and the rest they can throw away.

Step 3: Vote 

Time: 3 minutes 

Next up is the voting stage where the team determines the best ideas. In a regular brainstorming session, this will lead to extensive deliberations with no end in sight. However, with this method, deliberations take no more than 3 minutes (set a timer). Amazing, right?

Begin the voting process by taking duplicate ideas off the wall or whiteboard without discussion. Next, distribute a 10-voting-dot strip to each participant. Instruct them to vote on the most promising ideas by assigning dots to them based on quality. For example, they can place 3 dots on their most preferred idea, 2 on the next best, and 1 each on the rest ideas, depending on how good they think they are. The assignment of dots is completely up to them (they can even put all their dots on one sticky note). 

Note that participants are allowed to vote on their own ideas and they are not permitted to ask anyone to explain a particular one. If they don’t understand a suggestion, it means it’s not good enough and should be skipped. They are to choose ideas based on their gut feelings and not by scrutinizing since this is more about eliminating conversations than it is about accuracy.

This is how the voting proceed should be represented on the whiteboard:

In the 10 for 10 brainstorming workshop in the step 3 where facilitator give instructions for participants to vote on most promising ideas that address the challenge with red voting dots.

Step 4: Arrange 

Time: 1 minute

10 for 10 brainstorming exercise the step 4 where facilitator prioritise solution with the most vote on top and least on the bottom.

In this final stage, you are to arrange the top 10 (or fewer) sticky notes in order of preference, as seen above. That is, the most-voted ideas go to the top while those with zero votes find their way out of the wall. Doing this helps the team visualize possible solutions to the HMW challenge using the most time-efficient method ever.

Note: You can download a free template for the Miro board for this exercise here


There you have it — the easiest and quickest brainstorming technique you'll find today. This saves you the time and bickering that the team would have had to endure with normal discussions. Now, you can get everyone to think fast and waste no time deliberating on the not-so-good ideas just because it’s theirs.

If you’ve been looking forward to implementing more advanced and structured problem-solving techniques like Decision Jam or Design Sprint, this brainstorming workshop is a good place to start. So, get right to it immediately and thank us later.

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