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Workshop for brainstorming ideas and opportunities

Length of Workshop:

Approximately 2 to 4 hours of the second SAP strategic thinking meeting


Initially in plenary to describe the process but followed by small breakout groups. After the plenary session, SAP Development Team members divide into groups of between 3 and 8 (possibly based around priority transboundary problems or goals). Mixed discipline groups work well – ensure that the group members working on this process cover all the areas of expertise needed. In addition to natural scientists, social, legal, political and economic experts will be required. Preferably, the Project Manager will define the groups prior to the workshop. At the end of the group work, each working group should report back in plenary.


Identification of innovative ideas and opportunities that target the leverage points and meet the identified vision and goals.

The Task:

In Breakout groups:

  1. Decide on a facilitator/chair and a rapporteur and ensure all members know each other.
  2. Get each group to review the leverage points associated with a specific transboundary problem. Using this information, together with the Vision Statement and the Goals, ask the question: ‘With reference to the leverage points, what do you think would be some really exciting ideas and opportunities to achieve the goals?
  3. Brainstorm new ideas and opportunities in this area - remember the "Golden rules" of brainstorming. Limit the time for each brainstorming session (20 - 25 minutes is recommended but experience will show how much time is required).
  4. Once the brainstorming starts, participants are encouraged to give their ideas and opportunites while the facilitator writes them down – usually on a white board or flip-chart for all to see. There must be absolutely no criticizing of ideas. No matter how silly or how impossible an idea seems, it should be written down. Laughing is to be encouraged. Criticism is not.
  5. Once the time is up, encourage the group to identify the top ideas (normally between 3 and 10). Make sure everyone involved in the brainstorming session is in agreement.
  6. Once the group has completed the task for the first transboundary problem and/or goal, get them to move on to the subsequent problems or goals. Repeat the process until all group have had the chance to brainstorm ideas and opportunities for all problems and/or goals.

Report back:

In plenary, ask for a 5 to 10 minute report from each group to present the priority ideas and opportunities. Make sure that the whole SAP Development Team has ample time to review the resulting prioritized lists.  Discuss whether the lists accurately reflect the thinking of the group and whether it seems like a reasonable set of potential approaches.  This is the list that moves forward to the next strategic thinking step. Ensure all comments are captured by a rapporteur.


  • Lists of prioritised innovative ideas and opportunities that target the leverage points and meet the identified vision and goals
  • Annotated list of discussion comments from SAP Development Team