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Brainstorming for key questions.

Star Exploding

Starbursting helps you identify key questions that need to be answered. Starbursting is a form of Brainstorming that focuses on generating the “right” questions.

To make a Starbursting diagram:

Step 1:  Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a large star with eight points in the middle of the paper. Write down your problem in the center of the star (See diagram below).

Step 2:  Write the words - Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, From Where, and To Where - at the tip of each point of the star.

Step 3:  Brainstorm questions about your problem one point at a time. You can use the lists of preliminary standard questions to get the ball rolling:  Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, From Where, and To Where. Spend time thinking up of as many of your own questions as can, too. Your questions may be some of the best ones. Don’t begin answering your questions until you’ve developed as many questions as possible.

Step 4:  Next, it may be helpful to Sort and Prioritize your questions, then determine which questions are your Key Questions.

Step 5:  The final step in this exercise is to discover the answers to your key questions.

Diagram:  Here's a diagram of our Starbursting tool.


Publications icon


The Quality Toolbox, Nancy R. Tague, Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press, 2004.

Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis, Richards Heuer, Jr. and Randolph H. Pherson, Washington DC: CQ Press, 2011.

MindTools web site at