Collective notebook

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As a creativity technique, the collective notebook (CNB) can be assigned to the brainwriting technique. With this technique, participants do not need to be in the same place at the same time. It was invented by John Haefele and introduced by Charles Hutchison Clark .


Each participant is given the task of writing down their ideas and thoughts on a problem over an open period (usually two to four weeks). A notepad is used for this, which contains a description of the problem on the first pages. If possible, the participants should always carry the notepad with them in order to be able to record spontaneous ideas.

This technique is also useful for gathering additional ideas that often arise as flashes of inspiration from relaxing after a creativity session .

At least two participants are required for implementation. The duration can be agreed with you as required. Many sources recommend a period of 2 to 4 weeks.

Phases of the CNB method

  • Preparatory phase
  1. Formulate the problem
  2. Select participant
  3. Prepare notepads
  • Implementation phase
  1. Make notes on the prepared blocks
  2. Spontaneous entries
  3. Daily entries
  4. Summary and résumé
  • evaluation
  1. Match summaries
  2. Review notes
  3. Develop basic suggestions for problem solving
  4. Concept creation in a joint group meeting

Advantages and disadvantages


  • The participants do not influence each other.
  • It is not necessary that the team work together on the problem.
  • The ideas can then be collected as they arise.
  • Participants do not need to speak the same language.
  • Even more complex topics can be worked on.


  • The method takes a long time.


  • Electronic brainstorming : anonymization and parallelization of ideas; overcomes social barriers in the group; Advantages grow with the size of the group
  • Brainwriting (in various forms): Written collection of ideas; better suited for quieter participants or groups where tension is to be expected
  • Brainwalking: Collection of ideas in motion and on posters with different questions distributed around the room; more suitable for larger groups and experienced participants
  • On the web, the method is often described in another variation, in which the Collective Notebook is displayed in a central location.

Similar methods

• Semantic intuition

• Headstand technique

See also

Finding ideas , problem-solving processes , brainwriting , idea circles , brainclipping


  • M. Mencke: 99 tips for creativity techniques . Cornelsen Verlag, 2006, ISBN 9783589235742 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Collective Notebook - CreaPedia. Retrieved January 3, 2019 .
  2. Prof. Dr. Harald Wehnes, Prof. Dr. Phuoc Tran-Gia: Working Techniques. Retrieved January 3, 2019 .