When I was in a workshop recently one participant told me, that he learned a new brainstorming method call “Starfish” from a colleague. And she learned it in the HPI School of Design Thinking. I smiled and I told the story of how this method came to life. 

In a train the trainer session at the HPI School of Design Thinking in 2012 we challenged ourselves to come up with new brainstorming techniques.
Moritz Gekeler, Johannes Marx and I wanted to develop a method that fulfilled the following criteria: 
* Bring the team together and feel connected
* inspiring concentration
* bodystorming 
* and building on the ideas of others. 

After several crazy prototypes and a lot of fun, we came up with the STARFISH. A starfish has five arms that are connected via a central disc. A Design Thinking team normally consists of five team members. The starfish method fosters a central disc connectedness. We never imagined that this brainstorming method will be used so often in the diverse Schools of Design Thinking worldwide, in professional education workshops and train the trainer formats. ;O

The Starfish Method works like this:

  • Find a place where you can lie on the floor on your back
  • Ideally you can either look at a calm or inspiring ceiling or into the sky
  • All team members lie on the back in a circle and put their heads close to each other
  • Start ideating on one brainstorming question
  • Everyone speaks out loud when they have an idea and scribbles each idea on a post it
  • You can use your thighs as a surface for sticking your post its
  • 5-7 minutes will do

Version for activation:
* Lift your legs up into the air for some minutes and the blood will flow into your heads

Effects of the Method

  • Feeling of interconnected minds and sparking ideas
  • Moment of focus because of non-directed view
  • Freshness in the head due to blood flow from legs to the head
  • Fun Fun Fun
  • Focus or activation depending on lifting of the legs