Crazy Eights is a rapid-fire sketching exercise to get people to push beyond their initial ideas to generate eight distinct ideas in eight minutes.
When we are thinking of potential solutions to a problem, our first ideas are rarely the most innovative. Rapid-fire exercises like this help us to move past the obvious and get our creative juices flowing. In going for quantity over quality, we allow the weird, out-of-the-box ideas to pave the way for some truly inspired solutions further down the design process.
Crazy Eights is used during the creative ideation stage in order to generate a wide variety of potential solutions to your challenge. It’s best used once you’ve moved past the problem definition phase and have a clear understanding of the challenge you’re tackling. As a divergent thinking method, you can use this technique when you want people to ideate quickly on a theme.
The goal of Crazy Eights is to push beyond your first initial idea to sketch eight distinct ideas for potential solutions to your challenge. This technique can be run individually but it’s also a great tool to get the entire team involved - designers and non-designers alike!
For non-designers, the idea of sketching might be intimidating. Assure your participants that they don’t need to be artists and that the sketches don’t need to be beautiful. Rough sketches good enough to communicate the idea are sufficient. To put participants at ease, sometimes it can be helpful to show examples to set the expectations for the quality of the sketches.
Start by giving each participant a piece of paper and guide them to fold the piece of paper into eight sections (i.e. folding the page in half, then in half again, and in half for a third time). You could also use eight sticky notes per participant to achieve the same result.
Assign someone to be the timekeeper so that participants are not distracted by the clock. Set the timer for eight minutes.
Individually, each participant sketches one idea in each of the eight sections. The facilitator should prompt participants to start a new sketch every minute. It’s completely normal for the participants to feel rushed - it’s all part of the rapid-fire process. Once the timer goes off, pens are down.
You should now have a collection of ideas - some creative, some bizarre, and some that just might work. Depending on how much time you have, you can either get participants to share all their ideas with the rest of the team, or you can get them to choose their top three ideas. Sharing ideas should be short, sharp and to the point - it should only take a few minutes per person.
Now that you’ve done a round of divergent thinking on the topic, you can begin converging on some winning ideas by getting participants to vote on their favourites. Using a method like dot-mocracy can be helpful here.
The chosen ideas can then be refined further with another round of Crazy Eights or worked up into prototypes to test with users.
If you’re facilitating remotely, you could translate Crazy Eights digitally using something as simple as PowerPoint and get participants to design a different idea on eight different slides using shapes and text boxes. You could also use an online whiteboard tool like Mural or Miro to collaborate with each other in real-time and sketch ideas onto virtual sticky notes. If you are doing this exercise online, it can be a good idea to allow slightly more time per sketch, as sketching on a computer can take a bit longer - especially without a digital drawing pad.