If you’ve ever done a brainstorming session, I can almost guarantee that you’ve done a saturate and group. I know what you’re thinking – “what the heck is a saturate and group?” Let me tell you.

Saturate and group is a method of brainstorming, but a better method of brainstorming. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll realize that many people think brainstorming ideas can be a waste of time. I understand why people would think brainstorming is a waste of time, but most brainstorming sessions are done without having a true plan in mind. That’s why I enjoy the saturate and group method. This method may be chaotic at first, but it generates some great ideas and solutions.

Step One: Preparation

When you approach a saturate and group, you need to have a few prompts or questions prepared. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’ll be hard to have a successful brainstorming session. So, for example, here at Roundpeg we were tasked with the challenge of creating a name for a new nonprofit organization. We met with the founder of the nameless organization and had her explain the mission of her nonprofit. Once we understood her thought process, we proceeded to step two.

Step Two: Saturate

As a group, we brainstormed a bunch of different words, but not just any words. These words and their meanings aligned with the nonprofit’s mission; they weren’t just meaningless words we were thinking of. Now, instead of shouting out all of these words at once, we wrote them down on index cards. It didn’t matter if the same word was written twice or just phrased differently. This step just requires the group to think as much as possible and generate as many ideas as the group can. This is the “saturate” part of this method.

Step Three: Group

So, now that you have a plethora of index cards scattered across the table, what do you do next? You group. When grouping, you look through each index card and start to combine common ideas. This is typically the final step in this brainstorming method. For our nonprofit example, we began to sort through the cards and identify major themes among the sea of words. A major theme was unity or unison, so any word or phrase that was related would be placed in a group together. We did this until we couldn’t group any words together anymore! In this step, it’s okay if you have to rearrange words and place them elsewhere. Once you’ve combined common ideas, you’re ready to move on.

The saturate and group method is just one of many great brainstorming methods out there – this one just happens to be my favorite. When you saturate, you unpack thoughts and experiences into tangible and visual pieces of information that you surround yourself with in order to inform and inspire the design team. By grouping these thoughts, you’re able to identify key themes which will help you create meaningful design choices or solutions.

If you’re interested in learning some other brainstorming techniques, check out our blog post which covers some creative brainstorming sessions. If reading isn’t your thing, listen to our More Than a Few Words episode with Carrie Anton, the author of Me, Myself and Ideas, as she discusses the power brainstorming has in generating new ideas.