Starbursting Technique: Evaluating New Ideas

Starbursting is another creative brainstorming tool with a different approach from other brainstorming techniques. When the team inside the organisation brainstorms new ideas using mind mapping and brainstorming tools, the focus is on generating ideas and accepting all ideas. This approach aims to expand the problem exploration in an early stage of the design thinking process. This explorative stage has a divergent nature, which allows the team to explore the problem frame. After a clear definition of the problem, the team moves forward to explore the different solutions (i.e. prototypes). Download the Starbursting technique template by clicking the download link at the end of the article.

Related articles:

This stage, again, is divergent. The team presents other solutions and test them to reach the final solution or product. Based on this nature of the process, the team’s main aim is to find answers to questions or problems. These answers need further exploration throughout finding solutions, which is applied using the Starbursting technique.

What is the Starbursting Technique?

Every project starts with idea development. The biggest challenge is understanding all the project-related factors and asking the right questions to evaluate the new idea. While different brainstorming tools are used to explore solutions and new ideas. Starbursting tool explores solutions by asking questions related to it. It is similarity to the Reverse Brainstorming tool.

The Starbursting technique is a systematic method used to ask questions that explore the different dimensions of new ideas and their viability. For example, what is the target market segment? How will we sell the product? And When is the appropriate launch date?

Starbursting is based on six main question groups arranged in a star shape. These groups are tagged by Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How? Each question group is discussed during the team meeting, and some questions are assigned to each group. A clear vision about the project or the new idea can be ascertained by answering the given questions. To ensure the successful implementation of the starbursting method, the facilitator should consider the following:

  • A systematic flow of questions in a specific order
  • The questions are relevant to the topic or idea
  • All the related questions to the project or concept should be covered
  • All the questions should be answered

How to Apply the Starbursting Method

The steps below guides the team on how to apply the starbursting method. For personal or individual thinking, the designer can simply follow the stems below. For company teams, the discussion facilitator should guide the rest of the discussion members through it.

Step 1

Use a large sheet of paper to draw a six-point star. You can also download our Starbursting Template at the end of the article and print it. In the middle of the star, write down your idea or project name.

For example, the company would like to create a new mobile application for its online store. Write down in the centre of the paper, the word “Mobile application.”

Starbursting technique for creative thinking
Starbursting technique for creative thinking.

Step 2

At each point of the star, write one of the main question groups: Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How? These groups will be discussed in a systematic order with your team.

Step 3

Start to brainstorm each type of questions and write down these questions on their related star point. At this stage, focus on writing down the question without answering it. In the mobile application project, the questions can be presented in the figure below.


  • Who will use this application?
  • Who will work on the project?
  • Who are our competitors?


  • What should we call it?
  • What does the application cost?
  • What is the creative style for the project?


  • How will this application help our business?
  • How will we promote it?
  • How will we add it to our current services?


  • Where will we sell the application?
  • Where will we place the advertisement?
  • Where will we get the funding?


  • When will the application release?
  • When will we start developing?
  • When will start the advertising?


  • Why shall we create this application?
  • Why will people interest in this application?
  • Why will it win the market competition against other competitors?
Exploring the questions using the Starbursting tool.
Exploring the questions using the Starbursting tool.

Step 4

At this stage, the team discusses the answers to each question. The collected responses contribute to building a solid vision of the product or the idea. If there are many questions, further sessions can be held to explore all the answers.

Pros and Cons of the Starbursting Method

The starbursting method tends to provide a focused, systematic and comprehensive flow of guided thought restricted with specific steps and questions to answer. This advantage promotes a methodology for critical project time when a short time is dedicated to brainstorming new ideas. Unlike the other brainstorming sessions, such as mind maps and Bono six thinking hats, starbursting should take less time to reach the targeted results. All the general criteria are set in place beforehand.

On the other hand, most of the steps discussed in starbursting focus on finding the questions rather than answering them. It does not guide how to answer the questions in the same systematic way of collecting the questions. This disadvantage can affect the results’ significance, especially when the answers go in the wrong direction, such as providing false answers, biased responses, and building results based on these answers. 



The starbursting method is one of the systematic brainstorming tools used to evaluate ideas and projects based on answering the right questions. These answers should provide comprehensive coverage for the project’s success and fail factors.

The starbursting method operates through steps that aim to guide the team through several question groups. The Starbursting Template can be downloaded from the link below and used during the brainstorming session.

The Starbursting method aims to drive asking questions rather than finding answers. This concept is different from other brainstorming tools. While this approach gives it an advantage, its application needs a clear understanding of this aspect to implement it effectively. 

Wait, Join my Newsletters!

As always, I try to come to you with design ideas, tips, and tools for design and creative thinking. Subscribe to my newsletters to receive new updated design tools and tips!

Dr Rafiq Elmansy

As an academic and author, I've had the privilege of shaping the design landscape. I teach design at the University of Leeds and am the Programme Leader for the MA Design, focusing on design thinking, design for health, and behavioural design. I've developed and taught several innovative programmes at Wrexham Glyndwr University, Northumbria University, and The American University in Cairo. I'm also a published book author and the proud founder of, a platform that has been instrumental in fostering design innovation. My expertise in design has been recognised by prestigious organizations. I'm a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), the Design Research Society (FDRS), and an Adobe Education Leader. Over the course of 20 years, I've had the privilege of working with esteemed clients such as the UN, World Bank, Adobe, and Schneider, contributing to their design strategies. For more than 12 years, I collaborated closely with the Adobe team, playing a key role in the development of many Adobe applications.

One thought on “Starbursting Technique: Evaluating New Ideas

  • I really like your starburst favorite and your starburst of pink I just have a suggestion the pink ones just have strawberry well… Watermelon is pink too so shouldn’t that be in the package of all pink? It would really be nice if this was taken into consideration


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *