Crawford Slip Method

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Intent or purpose: 
Use it when you want to get ideas from a large group of people. Use it when you do not have time or ability to discuss ideas, and just want to collect people's thoughts. Use it when you want to engage an audience, giving them a sense of involvement
Types of Participants: 
Large Groups
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
This is a very simple method of just collecting ideas.
Examples of successes and failures: 
In a presentation on forestry, I ask for ideas on how to preserve forests in urban areas and how to make walking in the forest fun. Each time I hand out slips and get back loads of great ideas. I email everyone afterwards with a thank-you note and a summary of what they said and what I will be doing as a result of their great ideas.
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
No specific skills required

Set the scene

Give out sets of paper slips to everyone in the group. Depending on how many ideas you want back, give them anything from 5 to 50 slips. You can use chopped up pieces of paper and also use Post-It notes.

Ask for ideas

Ask the group for ideas on a topic. Be specific or general, depending on how wide a range of responses you are seeking. Tell them to write one idea per slip (otherwise you will receive lots on one slip from enthusiastic participants.

You may promise them a summary of responses. This will usually encourage them to keep participating.

Collect the answers

When they are slowing down and running out of ideas, or after a predetermined period (usually several minutes), ask them to hand in the slips.

You can ask for answers to questions more than once in a session. When you do so, be careful to separate the ideas from each session from one another and keep them along with a copy of the question asked. You might use different coloured paper or marker for each question.

Collate the answers
Off-line, you can explore and collate the answers, for example grouping them into similar categories and using these to trigger further thoughts.

How flexible is the process?: 
R. C. Crawford
History of Development: 

"Crawford developed the Crawford slip writing method in the USA in the 1920’s, for use in gathering ideas from large groups (even up to 5000 people, though it's much easier to handle with, say, 50 – 200)." Found in on 12 March 2010 at

R. C. Crawford, The Techniques of Creative Thinking, 1954
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