Idea generation technique – Create 6 to 8 sketches in 5 minutes to get down initial ideas, generate many ideas, and iterate on the best ones.

👥 2 or more participants | ⏰ between 30 and 60 minutes


One reason we end up with under-developed ideas is that we stick with our first good idea, rather than taking time to explore other approaches.

In this ideation technique exercise, participants quickly generate many ideas without worrying about details. This can be used for any concept that you want to brainstorm early in the ideation process, and has the best results with a diverse group (including product, marketing, engineering, design, etc.). It can be repeated to hone a few of the best ideas, and is often followed by a debrief session or another gamestorming exercise to focus on the most fruitful ideas.


  1. Prepare several sheets of paper with a 2×2 or 2×3 grid. You want to create boxes big enough for players to sketch their ideas in, but small enough to constrain them to one idea per box. Prepare enough paper for everyone to have about 10 boxes per round.
  2. As the group is gathering, distribute sheets of paper to each player. Or instruct the group on how to make their own 2×2 grid by drawing lines in their notebook.
  3. Introduce the game and remind players of the objective for the meeting. Tell players that the goal with 6-8-5 is to generate between 6-8 ideas (related to the meeting objective) in 5 minutes.
  4. Next, set a timer for 5 minutes.
  5. Tell the players to sit silently and sketch out as many ideas as they can until the timer ends — with the goal of reaching 6-8 ideas. The sketches can and should be very rough — nothing polished in this stage.
  6. When the time runs out, the players should share their sketches with the rest of the group. The group can ask questions of each player, but this is not a time for a larger brainstorming session. Make sure every player presents his/her sketches.
  7. With time permitting, repeat another few rounds of 6-8-5. Players can further develop any ideas that were presented by the group as a whole or can sketch new ideas that emerged since the last round. They can to work on separate ideas, or begin working on the same idea. But the 5-minute sketching sprint should always be done silently and independently.

6-8-5 is intended to help players generate many ideas in succession, without worrying about the details or implementation of any particular idea. It’s designed to keep players on task by limiting them to sketch in small boxes and work fast in a limited amount of time. 6-8-5 can be used on any product or concept that you want to brainstorm, and it has the best results when done with a heterogenous group (people from product, marketing, engineering, design, etc.).