Pin Cards

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Pictures as Idea Triggers
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The pin card technique (Geschka, et al., 1981) has associations with other Brainwriting methods (see Brainwriting 635 and Brainwriting Pool. The pin cards that can be small cards or post-its (each person having their own colour) are passed to the person on the immediate right, thus the card is passed around the table. This encourages turn-taking and individual contributions and is basically self-facilitating, but is not anonymous.

  1. 5-8 participants group round a table, with pen and cards or post-its. This open climate promotes high trust, which will help subsequent identification if each member’s pack is of a different colour.
  2. The leader writes the problem up where everyone can see it, throwing it open to discussion to make sure it is fully understood.
  3. Participants work quietly, writing one idea per card or Post-it and placing it in a pile for their right-hand neighbour.
  4. Each time a participant requires inspiration, they pick a card or Post-it from the pile created by their left-hand neighbour. Fresh ideas triggered by this are written on new cards or Post-its and as usual these are placed on the pile on their right (along with the trigger card). Thus the cards are transported round the table in the same direction from left to right of each participant.
  5. The leader should actively promote card circulation to avoid accumulation between particular participants, at the same time being cautious not to develop an excessively competitive or pressurised environment
  6. The cards or Post-its are gathered after about 20-30 minutes and positioned on a large display board and sorted into first round categories (see also Snowball Technique and KJ-Method ).
  7. The leader reads each card out in turn, anticipating questions and comments to clarify the meanings. The colour coding on the cards or Post-its allows the questions to be directed at their authors. Categories can be adjusted and items re-categorised if appropriate.
  8. If the categories are positioned in columns, the layout is comparable to that of the Allen Morphologiser (see also Morphological Analysis). This can be used to investigate possible combinations of ideas.