Starbursting: Evaluating New Ideas

In every project start of idea development, the biggest challenge is how to understand all the project-related factors through asking the right questions in order to evaluate the new idea. While different brainstorming tools can be used to understand and analyze new ideas, these tools tend to indirectly explore the new ideas and develop decisions based on team discussion rather than addressing the overall questions related to the project or idea success.

The starbursting method is a systematic method that tends to ask questions that clearly defines the new ideas and if they will be viable in the market. For example, what is the target market segment? How will we sell the product? When is the appropriate launch date? Etc.

Starbursting is based on six main question groups that are 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 a number of questions are assigned to each group. By answering the assigned questions, a clear vision about the project or the new idea can be ascertained. In order 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 idea 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 center of the paper the word “Mobile application”

starbursting creative thinking

Step 2

In 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 you team.

Step 3

Start to brainstorm each type of questions and write down these questions on its 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 as the figure below.


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


  • What should we call it?
  • What is 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 get the funding?


  • When will the application released?
  • 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?

star bursting brainstorming

Step 4

At this stage, the team discuss the answers for each questions and the collected answers contributes to building a solid vision about 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

While other brainstorming sessions can turn to open discussions with no significant results, the starbursting method tends to provide a focused, systematic and comprehensive flow of guided thought that is restricted with specific steps and questions to answer. This advantage promotes a methodology for critical project time when a very 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 because all the general criteria are set in place beforehand.

On the other hand, most of the steps discussed in starbursting focuses on finding the questions rather than answering as it does not provide a guide through how to answer the questions in the same systematic way of collecting the questions.  This disadvantage can cause a significant failure for the session especially when the answers go in the wrong direction such as providing false answers, biased answers, and building results based on these answers.


The starbursting method is one of the systematic brainstorming tools that can be used to evaluate ideas and projects based on answering the right questions. These answers should provide comprehensive coverage to the idea or project related success and fail factors.

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

Download Starbursting Template


While the starbursting method is preferred over other methods because of its systematic and comprehensive flow of steps, it fails to provide a systematic guide to answer the questions, which may result in a misleading information about the project. In order to avoid this disadvantage, an experienced facilitator and team members should be involved in answering the question phase.

About Rafiq Elmansy

Rafiq Elmansy is the founder of, author, and design and innovation consultant. He is an affiliated faculty teaching design at the American University in Cairo. He holds a master degree in Design Management with Distinction from Staffordshire University, UK. He has more than 17 years experience in the field of UXD and interaction design, and his books are published by John Wiley, O’Reilly Media and Taylor and Francis. He is also a contributor at the Design Management Review. Rafiq is a jury board member for the A'Design Awards, Poster for Tomorrow, and Adobe Achievements Awards. His design artwork was exhibited in many locations including Croatia, South Africa, Brazil, and Spain.

View all posts by Rafiq Elmansy →