Starbursting: Brainstorming to Generate Ideas & Make Great Products

Starbursting brainstorming is a technique that prompts your team to generate questions before answers, in order to identify many considerations when designing a product or solutions. This brainstorming method helps you and your team think through your product or problem more thoroughly for a much better solution!

starbursting brainstorming technique

Does the idea of brainstorming make you anxious?

Do your brainstorming sessions run dry quickly?

Do you wish you had a more structured approach to lead the team to create more ideas?

Starbursting brainstorming is just the technique you need. It gives you a structured approach to cover all the bases when generating ideas.

Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough for how to do it.

What Is Starbursting Brainstorming?

Group of people around table for Starbursting brainstorming

Starbursting brainstorming is an approach in which participants generate questions to help think through many aspects of a problem, product development, or project.

It uses questions as a tool for planning and helps teams develop a list of questions to think through the various components of a problem or project.

Starbursting brainstorming is an approach in which participants generate questions to help think through many aspects of a problem, product, or project for greater results.

When To Use It

You can use this brainstorming tool in many situations. However, it’s an excellent tool when you’re approaching something new, such as a new product or service. You need to think through all aspects of the product. The Starbursting Brainstorming approach helps you do this.

Generating questions helps your team think through many aspects of your product or service, and each question helps you understand your product or customer better.

Starbursting brainstorming helps your team think through many aspects of your product or service by using questions to guide you.

How To Do It

Draw a six-pointed star on a flip chart, white board, or some medium in order to lead the group through the session. 

In the middle of the star, write your product or project.

In each star point, write each of the following six categories:  

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where
  5. Why
  6. How
Starbursting brainstorming image with questions in star points.

1. Create the Questions

Lead the group through each of the six categories to generate a list of questions for each.

Have the group you’re working with create a systematic flow of questions for each of the categories. Lead the group to generate questions in each category about the product or project. Asking the right question will trigger thinking about areas you’d otherwise miss. This question asking process helps you determine what you need to think through for your product.

Don’t answer the questions yet. Just keep thinking of questions at this stage. Keep the flow of questions coming. The goal at this step is to think up as many questions as you can.

The goal in the first part of starbursting brainstorming is to generate meaningful and helpful questions in each category for your product. 

The goal in the first part of starbursting brainstorming is to generate meaningful and helpful questions in each category for your product. As you ask more questions, you’ll identify creative ideas about your product you would have otherwise missed.

For example, if you’re creating a product for a large customer base, you may ask questions about the product itself. Then you may shift focus and create questions about how to address training and support for that product.

You continue to create questions in each of the question categories to build out a more comprehensive list of what you need to consider.

As the discussion facilitator, it’s important for you to create an atmosphere of openness. This will encourage creative thinking and a more productive starbursting session.

2. Answer the Questions

Your next step is to go through the questions and answer them. You can do this in a separate session if needed. But it’s good to have the same participants be a part of answering the questions if possible, for increased buy-in. But you may need other subject matter experts to help you answer some of the questions.

You may uncover areas you still need more answers for. There may be important areas you haven’t even yet considered. Your team discussions will help you identify important considerations.

Starbursting Brainstorming Example

To illustrate more clearly how to apply this method, I’ll use the example of creating a backpack for petite professional women. As a petite woman, I’m tired of lugging around backpacks that look like they were made either for my husband (too big) or a school kid (too small).

I’ve longed for a sleek and professional-looking backpack that looks stylish but is durable enough to carry my laptop and other work gear on a business trip.

If a group were to build a backpack to fit this need, they could use the Startbursting Brainstorming technique to think through various considerations.

Here is the technique applied to the backpack example:


  • Who will use the product? 
  • Who will help design the product?
  • Who will produce the product?
  • Who will market the product? 


  • What type of material will it be made of?
  • What are the dimensions?
  • What design will we use?
  • What finishings and detail will it have?
  • What price point is ideal?


  • When will the backpack be used?
  • When will we start production?
  • When will we start marketing the product?


  • Where will we have it produced?
  • Where will we market it?
  • Where will we sell it?


  • Why is this product needed?
  • Why would someone want to buy it?
  • Why would a consumer choose our producer over another?


  • How will we get feedback on prototypes?
  • How will we market?
  • How will we sell it?
  • How will the backpack be cleaned?
  • How will the backpack be delivered?

You can go on and on with these questions. This is a starter and the group may think of even more questions to add to the list as they’re going through the exercise.

Tips for a Better Brainstorming Session

Follow these tips for the best results:

  • Bring together a group of people who have diverse backgrounds and experience for a more well-rounded approach.
  • Make sure everyone understands the product, problem, or solution you’re there to address.
  • Explain the Starbursting brainstorming approach you’ll be using, since it’s different from many other brainstorming techniques.


This form of brainstorming can help you and your team think through many components you might otherwise miss. You’ll have input from others who may have perspectives different from your own. And this will prepare you for a successful project and product after working through the questions.

And if you’re curious about the backpack, I finally found one that was perfect. Petite professional women – here’s your backpack!

Full disclosure: there’s an affiliate link here. But you won’t pay extra if you use this link. I’ve now taken this backpack around the world with me on business trips and it’s sleek and professional and I love it.

You’re welcome.

This post has been updated. The original version of this post was published on April 25, 2019.

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