Smart Solutions

Idea Wheel


The Idea Wheel tool is part of the GPS brainstorming system. GPS brainstorming kit is a structural method to brainstorm in a group of 12 to 15 people. It can generate a lot of ideas and help prioritisation in short time. The tool was originally created to come up with solutions to issues and trends that companies are facing but has since been used in numerous processes and situations to generate ideas. For example, the tool can be used to work with residents to come up with solutions to challenges that their village is facing. This well-structured approach ensures that you end up with plenty of ideas without your brainstorming workshop ending in chaos. Specific tools are provided to record the outcomes of the meeting (trends, ideas, etc.) and for working on the project ideas.

How does it work?

The idea wheel process ideally requires a facilitator.

Materials needed to run the session:

  • One surface (e.g. A0 size board or other similar working surface), with a circle divided into 6 blocks
  • a flipchart (or other similar working surface)
  • markers
  • post-its

There are three steps in a GPS brainstorm:


  • Define a key question. Start with ‘how can we…’
  • Determine 5 trends/issues/topics on the common surface and place one in each block, while keep one block blank
  • Get the flipchart ready: Divide the page into two columns (one for red/short term ideas, one for yellow/long term ideas)
  • Seat the participants around the board in pairs (one pair to each block)


Step 2.1 Generating ideas. Participants brainstorm in groups of two people. Together they can generate easily 120 ideas in 45 minutes!

  • Explain the exercise, the key question and the trends/issues
  • Turn the prepared board 6 times. Thus, each pairs get some time at each block to write as much ideas as possible on post-its and stick them on the domain they are discussing.

Step 2.2 Selection of the best ideas by the group.

  • After 6 turns, each pair has to classify the ideas in the domain they are sitting. They group the short- and long-term ideas and remove those which were written twice.
  • Give each pair voting stickers: 8 red (short term) and 8 yellow (long term). They have to stick them on the ideas they believe in the most. Max 2 stickers per idea.
  • Counting votes: Write down the top ideas (3 votes or more) on the flipchart and discuss. Ask if someone would like to have an extra idea on the flipchart and try to merge similar ideas. At last, order the ideas and try to come to a top 3.

Step 2.3 Developing ideas. In small groups the best ideas are further developed into concrete projects on a project sheet.

Divide the participants in 3 groups and develop the top 3 ideas with a Project Initiation Canvas or a similar tool.


Write down the input and plan a next session for the next steps in your process. You can find more information in Dutch language in the following document.

Who is the tool for?

This tool can be used by anyone who wants to come up with ideas in a group for a problem they are facing: a professional team, a group of villagers, municipal administration, etc… or a multidisciplinary group put together specifically to think about a key question.

This tool ensures rapid progress, takes into account the behavioural patterns of individuals in group (introverts come into play by working with duos), offers opportunities for cross-fertilization, ensures widely supported ideas.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Make the key question action-oriented, ambitious and open! Making it as broad as possible , leaves room for lots of ideas
  • Choose the participants with different background for more innovative, intersectoral ideas
  • Open door: A good facilitator guides the process and does not influence the outcome
  • Explain why the exercise is happening and clearly state what the next steps are.

How the tool was already used?

The exercise was used, among other things, to think about solutions to deal with the challenges that the village is facing with a group of villagers. The key issue was “How to increase liveability?” with challenges/ trends such as declining social cohesion, disappearance of commerce, climate change and digitalisation. The result was a lot of creative ideas that both citizens and policy makers can implement. These were further elaborated in a later workshop.

GPS-Brainstorm kit
Flanders DC
Manual, trend analysis, project sheet and template report to get started with the idea wheel
Language : Dutch, English

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