What Is Starbursting? Starbursting In A Nutshell

Starbursting is a structured brainstorming technique with a focus on question generation. Starbursting is a structured form of brainstorming allowing product teams to cover all bases during the ideation process. It utilizes a series of questions to systematically work through various aspects of product development, forcing teams to evaluate ideas based on viability.

Understanding starbursting

During product development, many teams use traditional brainstorming techniques to generate a list of potential features. However, this is often done before the team defines a target audience or clarifies the vision for the product. With no definitive guidelines established, these teams create products that consumers have no interest in buying. What’s more, product development invariably runs over time or over budget.

Starbursting is a structured form of brainstorming allowing product teams to cover all bases during the ideation process. It utilizes a series of questions to systematically work through various aspects of product development, forcing teams to evaluate ideas based on viability.

Starbursting is named after a six-point star, with each point representing one of six fundamental questions.

Applying the starbursting method

Applying the starbursting method is a matter of following three steps. A good facilitator should be employed to mediate the discussion and ensure that every group member has an opportunity to give input.

Step 1 – Create a six-point star

Teams can opt to draw a star on a large sheet of paper or download a template online. The name of the project should be written in the center of the star. 

Then, label each of the six points using the following titles: who, what, how, where, when, and why.

Step 2 – Brainstorm potential questions

In the second step, generate a list of potential questions without answering them.

Some examples of questions for each point are listed below (aim for at least three per point):

  • Who – who will use the application or work on product development itself? Who are the primary competitors? Who will market or produce the product?
  • What – what are the product dimensions? What will the packaging be made from? What is the most suitable price point?
  • When – when might production start? When will marketing commence? When do we envisage that product updates will be required?
  • Where – where will the product be sold? Where will the funding come from? 
  • Why – why should the product be created in the first place? Why will it be competitive in the market? Why will consumers use it?
  • How – how will the product be promoted, marketed, or advertised? How will it complement existing products or services?

Step 3 – Formulate answers

In the final step, the team should concisely answer each of the questions generated above. It should be noted that starbursting is an idea generation process and not a means of creating an action plan.

Nevertheless, the answers gleaned in step three will yield important insights that the team should incorporate before proceeding with product development.

Key takeaways:

  • Starbursting is a structured brainstorming technique with a focus on generating questions to assist in robust product development.
  • Starbursting helps product development teams create products that consumers want. With less emphasis on product features, the team is free to consider a new product from the point of view of the consumer.
  • Implementing starbursting is a relatively simple process. However, a good facilitator will ensure that the individual perspective of each team member is heard and considered.

Read Next: Business AnalysisCompetitor Analysis, Continuous InnovationAgile MethodologyLean StartupBusiness Model InnovationProject Management.

Other Brainstorming Frameworks

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciate Inquiry (AI) is an organizational change methodology that focuses on strengths and not on weaknesses. Appreciate Inquiry was created by management professors David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva in the 1980s. The Appreciate Inquiry is also known as the 5-D Cycle, an iterative cycle describing five distinct phases, made of define, discover, dream, design, and destiny.

Round-robin Brainstorming

Round-robin brainstorming is a collective and iterative approach to brainstorming. Brainstorming is an effective way of generating fresh ideas for an organization. Round-robin brainstorming is a balanced approach, employing an iterative, circular process that builds on the previous contribution of each participant.

Constructive Controversy

Constructive controversy is a theory arguing that controversial discussions create a good starting point for understanding complex problems. A constructive controversy discussion is performed by following six steps: organize information and derive conclusions; presenting and advocating decisions; being challenged by opposing views; conceptual conflict and uncertainty; epistemic curiosity and perspective-taking; and reconceptualization, synthesis, and integration.

Affinity Grouping

Affinity grouping is a collaborative prioritization process where group participants brainstorm ideas and opportunities according to their similarities. Affinity grouping is a broad and versatile process based on simple but highly effective ideas. It helps teams generate and then organize teams according to their similarity or likeness.

The Fishbone Diagram

The Fishbone Diagram is a diagram-based technique used in brainstorming to identify potential causes for a problem, thus it is a visual representation of cause and effect. The problem or effect serves as the head of the fish. Possible causes of the problem are listed on the individual “bones” of the fish. This encourages problem-solving teams to consider a wide range of alternatives.


Rolestorming as a term was first mentioned by personal development guru Rick Griggs in the 1980s.  Rolestorming is a brainstorming technique where participants pretend they are other people when sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Reverse Brainstorming

Reverse brainstorming takes advantage of the natural human tendency to more easily see problems than solutions. What’s more, many individuals when placed in a traditional brainstorming environment will find it difficult to become creative on command. Reverse brainstorming is an approach where individuals brainstorm the various ways a plan could fail. 

Lotus Diagram

A lotus diagram is a creative tool for ideation and brainstorming. The diagram identifies the key concepts from a broad topic for simple analysis or prioritization.

Futures Wheel

The futures wheel was invented in 1971 by Jerome C. Glenn while he was studying at the Antioch Graduate School of Education.  The futures wheel is a brainstorming framework for visualizing the future consequences of a particular trend or event.

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