What is it

The inverse of brainstorming, reduce a large collection of ideas, activities, or components to a smaller collection of the most valuable or promising ideas.

Why use it

  • Bring clarity to the results of a brainstorming session that generated a large collection of ideas.
  • Thoughtfully prioritize ideas and discard ideas with less value.
  • Increase the team’s mental agility by safely explore risky ideas.

When to use it

  • When a team confronts a high level of complexity after a brainstorming.
  • When a team has a lot of ideas and no clear sense of direction.
  • When a team’s activities lack prioritization or focus.





Group Size

2+ people

Suggested Time

60+ minutes

Stormdraining Worksheet


How to do it


As a group, assemble a large collection of ideas, requirements, design components, process steps, or other design elements. This may be an existing collection or the result of a fresh brainstorming session.


Invite the team to distill the large collection into a smaller, more focused set. Remove items from the collection by using the following Five Rules of Stormdraining:

  • RULE 1: Everything Is on the Table. No sacred cows, please. Every single item is fair game for going down the drain.
  • RULE 2: Delete Is the Default. Turn the pencil around and make liberal use of the eraser. Not sure if something should be deleted? Only one way to find out.…
  • RULE 3: Build on Other People’s Deletions. Your teammate’s suggestion to remove one thing likely points to other parts to remove. The objective is to reduce quantity and hone in on the essentials, so practice “Yes, and…”
  • RULE 4: Make It Fun. Celebrate and encourage the deletions. Compliment people’s creativity and courage when they propose sending something down the drain.
  • RULE 5: When You Delete Something, Really Delete It. Don’t set it aside and save it for posterity. Don’t take a photo to preserve the moment. Erase it. Drain it. Make it go away.


Excellent introduction to convergent thinking, helps teams prioritize and simplify


Can be difficult to let go of ideas that we hold dear

Combine With

Lotus Blossom or Mindmapping to come up with the initial set of ideas

Need help using this tool with your team?


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