Brainstorming is also about… selecting the best ideas

How to select the best ideas for brainstorming?

Your brainstorming session has generated a whole host of ideas so the next important step is to select the best ones and develop them. This process is called convergence, and there are techniques available that can help you to focus on the task at hand. We’ve picked out three for you: stickers, the COCD box and PNAC. Read all about them below.

When you ask your brainstorming team to choose the best ideas, it’s crucial for them to think constructively, keeping in mind the goal of the session and focusing on the key issues. Thinking in terms of new chances and opportunities will also help you and your team move in the right direction. And last but not least, opt for the ideas that motivate and energise you and the other participants. So, are you ready to separate the wheat from the chaff? Here are three useful convergence techniques that will help you make the right choices.

1. Stickers

Have all the ideas that came out of the brainstorming session been noted down and can all the participants see them clearly? Has everyone been given time to glance through them all again? Great! Now it’s time to hand out stickers, so that each participant can label the ideas that seem best to him or her. Decide beforehand how many stickers each person may apply, with the aim of ending up with a realistic selection. The ideas with the most stickers are ready to move on to the development phase.

2. The COCD box

To prevent original, innovative ideas from not making the cut, the Centre for Development of Creative Thinking (COCD) has developed the COCD box. This method arranges all the ideas into three categories, again using stickers:

  • blue stickers for ideas that are easy to implement, involve few risks and are widely acceptable

  • red stickers for breakthrough, innovative and exciting ideas that can be implemented

  • yellow stickers for ideas of the future, unusual findings, challenges and dreams

Thanks to this system, innovative ideas do not slip through the net, and are given a yellow sticker. Now draw the table below (the COCD box) on a large sheet of paper and transfer the ideas with the most stickers to the appropriate quadrant according to their dominant colour.


    Unfeasible ideas, impossible to implement



    Yellow ideas

  • ideas of the future

  • dreams, challenges

  • stimulation for the brain


    Feasible ideas that can be implemented

    Blue ideas

  • easy to implement

  • low risk

  • high acceptability

    Red ideas

  • innovative ideas

  • breakthrough

  • exciting ideas

  • can be implemented


    Common ideas

    Original ideas

In this way, feasible ideas are juxtaposed with less feasible ideas. At the same time, the difference between innovative ideas and those that build on existing examples becomes clear. The next step is to consider which ideas can be put together for further development. To do this, start with the red ideas. Combine them with blue ideas that are easy to implement. Then add yellow ideas that have long-term prospects.


VHas your brainstorming session come up with the five best ideas thanks to the above convergence techniques? For each one, define the Positives, the Negatives, the Adjustments and the Concerns.

  • Positives: the strong points of the concept

  • Negatives: the potential drawbacks of the concept

  • Adjustments: the way in which you can remedy the negatives

  • Concerns: the aspects that need special attention when implementing the idea

Thanks to the PNAC method, you will not get stuck on any drawbacks of an idea. You will act constructively by immediately contemplating possible solutions. In short, you’ll be alert to opportunities you perhaps weren’t expecting.


“One brilliant idea is good – more is better”


“During the convergence phase of any brainstorming session, it’s important to consolidate and improve ideas,” stresses Vincent De Coninck (Idea & Innovation Management graduate and ex-intern at Bold & pepper). “If you spot other original ideas while going through all the findings, be sure to note them down! And if you can combine or enhance ideas, don’t hesitate to do it. Don't just choose your favourite idea; also keep in mind the ultimate goal you set yourself at the start of the brainstorm.”


Pascal Mageren, Editorial Project Manager
Pascal Mageren, Editorial Project Manager

Pascal Mageren

Editorial Project Manager