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Checker board brainstorming

Project Planning methods and tools  > Expedite projects with turbo brainstorming > Brainstorming patterns >

Write high-quality narrative with Checkerboard brainstorming

Written communication more powerful than verbal communication. But many people have trouble writing as they think because they have too many random ideas and don't know where to start. One of the main principles of brainstorming is to capture ideas before organizing them as organizing interferes with the process of idea generation.

Checker-board brainstorming allows you to capture your ideas at random and organize them as you go. Checker-board brainstorming is a personal, electronic brainstorming using a table to simulate a pad of post-it notes that produces high-quality text. When you are finished your ideas can be converted to paragraphs with headers with a few keystrokes.

You can also use this method to write-up ideas following a brainstorming session.

This method produces higher quality thinking. Each row in the Checkerboard becomes a multi-sentence paragraph in your document. You can apply this method to writing many types of material including methods and procedures. In the example below we have brainstormed how to do checkerboard brainstorming
Brainstorming checker board

Create a 6 X 8 brainstorming table in Word or HTML

This table is a sample.

Each cell contains a sentence expressing an idea.

 

Each row will become a paragraph of several sentences.

Your final output will be a page of well organized ideas.

The table represents a three-level hierarchy. The table name is the first level in the hierarchy. The ideas in the left-hand column represent the second level. The ideas to the right of the sub ideas represent the third level.  

Type ideas into cells

 

You can type ideas anywhere you want.

Cells expand to accommodate long sentences

Place ideas that need elaboration in the left hand column.

Come back later and add additional sentences.

Organize ideas with the mouse.

Move main ideas to left most column.

Move sub ideas go to the right in the sequence that you want to present them

You can cut and paste cells and rows instead of dragging with the mouse if you prefer.

Text

Text

Refine your ideas as you type them.

This editing produces an additional level of editing.  

Sometimes you will type as sentence several times to get an idea right.

Often you will combine two or more sentences to present ideas more crisply.

Text

To add post-it notes to your table insert a new row where you want to insert the ideas. Six new post-it notes appear. You can start typing new ideas. Usually I start in the second cell in the row so the first cell can contain a title or main sentence.    

If you are working in Word Outline view you can sort rows by dragging a row to a new position in the table.

Use view  -> outline

Otherwise you can cut and paste rows to reorganize them.

Text

Text

Text

You can split a table if several topics emerge as you brainstorm.

Text

Add a title for a new table

Sometimes you start creating ideas for one topic and end up capturing ideas for multiple topics

Text

Text

When you finish brainstorming your ideas you can convert your table to text or to a structure table.

Select the complete table.

Select Table -> Convert -> Table to Text.

Form your sentences into  paragraphs by deleting end of paragraph markers for intermediate sentences.

Add ideas where needed.

Text


Convert Brainstorming checker board to procedure text.

After you have finished capturing your ideas then convert the table to text by selecting the table with table -> Select -> Table. Then convert the table to text with table -> convert to text -> Paragraph markers.

Sample narrative output from checkerboard brainstorming produced from the table above

1. Create a 6 X 8 brainstorming table in Word or HTML. This table is a sample. Each cell contains a sentence expressing an idea. Each row will become a paragraph of several sentences. Your final output will be a page of well organized ideas.

2. Type ideas into cells You can type ideas anywhere you want. Cells expand to accommodate long sentences Place ideas that need elaboration in the left hand column. Come back later and add additional sentences.

3. Organize ideas with the mouse. Move main ideas to left most column. Move sub ideas go to the right in the sequence that you want to present them You can cut and paste cells and rows instead of dragging with the mouse if you prefer.

4. Refine your ideas as you type them. This editing produces an additional level of editing. Sometimes you will type as sentence several times to get an idea right. Often you will combine two or more sentences to present ideas more crisply.

5. To add post-it notes to your table insert a new row where you want to insert the ideas. Six new post-it notes appear. You can start typing new ideas. Usually I start in the second cell in the row so the first cell can contain a title or main sentence. If you are working in Word Outline view you can sort rows by dragging a row to a new position in the table. Use view -> outline Otherwise you can cut and paste rows to reorganize them.

6. Split a table if several topics emerge as you brainstorm. Add a title for a new table. Sometimes you start creating ideas for one topic and end up capturing ideas for multiple topics.

7. When you finish brainstorming your ideas you can convert your table to text or to a structure table. Select the complete table. Select Table -> Convert -> Table to Text. Form your sentences into paragraphs by deleting end of paragraph markers for intermediate sentences. Add ideas where needed.

The table represents a three-level hierarchy. The table name is the first level in the hierarchy. The ideas in the left-hand column represent the second level. The ideas to the right of the sub ideas represent the third level.


Copyright April 15, 2005 Brian Mullen, I.S.P. information systems planning corp. Last updated: May 2, 2005

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