Crawford’s Slip Writing Method – Generating Ideas From Many Contributors

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Before coming to Crawford’s Slip Writing Method. It is very important to know that this method was developed by Crawford in the USA in the 1920s, for gathering ideas from large groups (even up to 5000 people, though much easier to handle with, say, 50–200), and has been subsequently adopted by Clark.

It is in effect one of the earliest forms of brain writing, and for small groups. And it reduces to a simple ‘private idea generation’ phase. It is used with large gatherings of people in, say, a lecture theatre or hall. It is in many respects the text predecessor of a modern radio or TV ‘phone-in’.


What is Crawford’s Slip Writing Method

Crawford's Slip Writing Method

The Crawford slip method is a tool for use by managerial craftsmen; managers who take pride in their repertoire of relevant tools will certainly want to add this method to their tool bags. There will be many occasions when this tool is the right one for use in their organizations.

Educators and training professionals who engage in the development of managers will find the Crawford slip method a valuable addition to their curricula. The slip method can readily be taught in courses on management analysis, administrative management, and managerial research methods, and in applied behavioral science courses which address managerial problem-solving.

Crawford’s Slip Writing Method Technique

Crawford's Slip Writing Method

1. Set the scene – Give some sets of paper slips to everyone in your group. Depending on how many ideas you want back, give them anything from 5 to 30 slips. You can use chopped up pieces of paper.

Use it when you want to get ideas from a large group of people. You’ll get lots of ideas but no sorting or filtering (or group discussion). Not an engagement technique.

2. Ask for ideas – Ask the group for ideas on a topic. Be specific, depending on how wide a range of responses you are wanting. Tell them to write at least one idea per slip.

Use it when you do not have time or ability to discuss ideas, and just want to collect people’s thoughts.

3. Collect the answers – When they are slowing down and running out of ideas, or after a predetermined period (usually several minutes), ask them to hand in the slips.

Use it when you want to engage with your audience, by giving them a sense of involvement.

4. Collate the answers – Off-line, you can explore and collate the answers, for example, grouping them into similar categories and using these to trigger further thoughts.

The Crawford’s Slip Writing Method Application

Crawford's Slip Writing Method Application

The Crawford slip method is a systems analysis tool for many uses. Its basic role is to IMPROVE some useful activity in which you are involved. Its range of possible applications is very broad. Let’s look at some typical ones.

1. Activities that need improving

YOUR purpose in using the Crawfordslip method will be to improve something for which YOU are responsible. This may be in work or management. It may relate to your job, family, religion, personal life, recreation, or civic affairs.

 You might use the Crawford slip method to improve an aircraft factory, a senior centre, a hospital rehabilitation program, or an automobile dealership. You might use it to improve the morale of engineers, training of purchasing agents or writing a speech or thesis.

Or you might want to improve the design or production of some new products, such as a washing machine or home computer. Some of YOUR needs may be unique, unlike those of anyone else. They are open to a great deal of creativity. Even a small think tank might greatly extend your creative reach.

2. Situations where the method works best

Think tank effort should be applied selectively. Some activities especially need to think tank attention. The need increases with organizational size, technological complexity, and interdependence.

Are you in a BIG organization? Is your activity a high-technology one? Are there many MOVING PARTS that must mesh or interact in ultra-precise ways? Are many different persons, disciplines, specialities, or jurisdictions interlocked in mutually dependent roles? The more things or people involved, the greater the need for better ways to coordinate and streamline them.

3. Reduction of unknowns as a think tank goal

Do you ever feel all alone or overwhelmed as you decide big issues in the face of too many unknowns? Somebody else may be an expert in what is unknown to you.

Different people may each know some fraction of what you need for your problem. The think tank principle combines these fractions. It can add hundreds or thousands of insights that are now carried in separate brains. As a lone thinker, you may risk a dangerous leap in the dark. Use those other brains.

4. Need for diagnosis

A typical starting point is a diagnostic analysis. In many situations, the think tank can “X-ray the patient” and reveal the trouble spots in activities that are “opaque” to you. Call this difficulty ANALYSIS. It involves identifying the troubles, difficulties, deficiencies, obstacles, or imperfections in the activity that is to be improved. You can’t possibly be aware of all of these.

 A group of people can supply perceptions from different vantage points. Their combined inputs can give you a much better grasp of what is wrong. Pinpointing the perceived troubles is the first step toward more precise analyses of possible remedies.

5. Need for remedial analysis

Identifying the troubles is a long step toward finding remedies. We need better and more rapid ways to find those remedies. Those closest to the troubles are often keenly aware of needed remedies.

Managers or generalists can often benefit from workers’ remedial suggestions. These suggestions are often hard to get because of fear to speak out and risk criticism or reprisal. The Crawford slip method is not only a RAPID way to collect remedial options.

 It can get these SAFELY and INDEPENDENTLY. Later chapters spell out how this is done.

6. Need for PENETRATION into new situations or problems

The think tank can help you especially when you get a new assignment. As a “new-broom person”‘ you may be unable to sleep at all until you scout your floor space. Present personnel can give you some much-needed briefings if they can do it safely.

 Your being new allows you to ask for these briefings without loss of face. The Crawford slip method can give you tremendous help in a single workshop session with those willing and able helpers. This book tells more about how.

7. Think tanks for training programs

Better training is often the key to improving an activity. But who needs to learn how to do what? The diagnosis of troubles, errors, and deficiencies is an ideal identification of training needs.

The remedial analyses can supply training content. The looseleaf feature of the Crawford slip method makes organic action and manual writing much easier. Involvement of those affected, whether trainees, managers, or interfacing colleagues, helps with implementation.

 The method originated as a tool for TRAINING. Even when used to improve management, it often involves the training of people who create management problems, in addition to training managers themselves.

The Crawford’s Slip Writing Method (CSM) is a simple yet effective type of brainstorming technique that gives the opinions of all team member equal weight, however quiet they are. Crawford’s Slip Writing Method is often the most efficient means of generating ideas and organizing them quickly into categories. 


In this blog we have discussed about the crawford slip writing method. Crawford slip writing method is a simple and effective method that allows all the team members to give their opinions carry equal weights.We have also discussed various methods of slip writing.

Also Read: What is Organisational Politics? Political Tactics, Causes


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