How to Properly Use BMI Pattern Cards

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Our team usually gets many questions about how to use BMI Pattern Cards. Misuse is a real concern because it makes it difficult to obtain the full potential of any workshop. Basically, working with BMI Pattern Cards is a variant of brainstorming. Therefore, the usual brainstorming rules apply:

  • Quantity before quality. The more ideas we generate, the better.

  • Think big. Try not to constrain yourself. Generate big ideas to solve big problems.

  • Everything is allowed. Every idea, even those that may seem silly should be included. You never know where the best inspiration might come from.

  • No discussions. Nobody should discuss the ideas coming from other workshop attendees because this can lead to disagreements. Brainstorming is about creation, not arguing.

  • Write down ideas immediately. Don’t rely on your memory to hold your ideas, you will easily forget them. Write down everything as it comes to you.

The following additional advice should be taken into account when using BMI Pattern Cards in a workshop.

Creating a creative environment

It’s tempting to run a brainstorming session in your conference room. Avoid that temptation! People will have a hard time thinking outside the box in a place where they work every day. Get out of the office instead, e. g. go to a beautiful conference hotel or a co-working or maker space.

Form small teams for ideation

Three people are the lower limit for the perfect group-size, as it is possible that someone may have to leave the group on short notice. Five people are the upper limit because with more than five individuals discussions will have the tendency to break up into one-on-one conversations. Four people per team is the ideal constellation.

Develop more than one idea per card

It is relatively easy to develop one new idea per BMI Pattern Card. However, the first idea is usually a self-explanatory one. During a workshop, we typically motivate our participants to generate at least five ideas per card. We also use time pressure, so there is no time for lengthy discussions. The goal should be for each group to develop at least five new ideas in five minutes and then move to the next card.

Make the first selection of ideas immediately

During the brainstorming session, it is best to write each idea on a single sticky note. Later you can compare, combine and evaluate the ideas. Following a short break, you should do this immediately, while all of your ideas are still fresh.

Download the cheat sheet to use BMI Pattern Cards

We have put together more tips and advice for you on this cheat sheet. If you are planning a business model workshop in your company, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced BMI Lab staff.