The Brain Exchange
The Brain Exchange
20th Anniversary, August 1995- August 2015
San Francisco Bay Area Women's Brain Exchange


How can I start a group in my community?

Start with people you'd like to brainstorm with and ask each of them to invite a friend or two. Once you've starting to meet on a regular basis the enthusiasm of those who attend will attract others. Meetings will differ in size. The best number to start with would be ten or more. Don't try to control who comes; don't screen prospective attendees. Be assured that that people who are attracted to this will enrich the experience.. more

Is this for women only?

Ours is a women's group. We have found that a rich and valuable experience. There have been other configurations. We would be delighted to help men's or coed groups get started.

Do I need special training/permission/licensing to start a group?

The name "Brain Exchange" is in the public domain. You do not need a license or permission or training to start or to facilitate a group. We want to support anyone who wants to explore this exciting process.

What's the structure of a Brain Exchange?

In our model, we meet one night a month, in the same location and at a set time (Our group meets on the third Thursday of every month.) We operate under the agreement that everyone present will follow the guidelines and is committed to creating a safe space for people to be creative and to share their ideas. We encourage people to bring guests, downplay refreshments and do not charge. (Some groups may have to charge in order to cover the cost of a rental space.)...see our brainstorming guidelines for more detail

What happens at a meeting?

We begin promptly at the announced time. We do a round in which each person gets to say her name and a short introduction. The facilitator reads the guidelines and we then move to using cards to select people to brainstorm that evening. We help them formulate their brainstorming question ( four or five minutes); we brainstorm their question (five minutes) while someone records the brainstorms. When the five minutes are up we immediately move on to the next question. We take a fifteen minute break about 90 minutes into the process, then reconvene for the final 45 minutes. During the break, people get to network and talk about their common interests...see our brainstorming guidelines for more detail

How do you formulate a good brainstorming question?

We let the person talk BRIEFLY about the problem/issue and interrupt with clarifying questions. Then we simply feed it back in the form of a simple open question. Sometimes it helps to narrow the original question and sometimes to broaden it. We check with the person who is asking the question to see if this new formulation feels OK and gets to the heart of their question.. And we quickly move to brainstorming...see our brainstorming guidelines for more detail

How can I get answers to other questions?

Contact us