Crawford slip method – Highly effective technique in Risk Identification…

Crawford Slip method is a simple, common and effective information gathering technique in Risk Identification. As compared to other techniques, it requires minimal amount of time, equipment, and training.

C.C. Crawford developed the Crawford Slip Method at the University of Southern California in 1926.

The Crawford Slip Method is a simple yet effective type of brainstorming that gives the opinions of all team members’ equal weight, however quiet they are. In fact, you probably will have encountered this way of generating ideas and solutions even if you haven’t called it the Crawford Slip Method. Brainstorming sessions can generate problems, such as few people monopolizing the entire discussion .The Crawford Slip Method (CSM) is comparable to but more useful than brainstorming and Delphi method as they help satisfy the need of anonymity and also equalize participation of all team members.

Not only does this help you generate a wide variety of solutions, it also helps people get involved and feel that their contributions are valued. Writing rather than speaking during the session can have added advantages. It helps people to think freely without interruption, and it levels the playing field between quieter people and more outspoken participants.

The method simply involves collating input from people on slips of paper (nowadays often on sticky notes).

When to use CSM

CSM is appropriate when there is a need to generate a large volume of information in a short span of time. Also, when you want to get ideas from a large group of people. Use it when you do not have time or ability to discuss ideas, and just want to collect people’s thoughts. Use it when you want to engage an audience, giving them a sense of involvement.

Steps to be followed :

1) Identify the session participants who are aware of the issue at hand.Even though complete subject-matter expertise is not essential but those participating in any type of risk information gathering effort should have at least a superficial awareness of the concerns and issues in the project.

2) Outline the question team will explore.The key to an effective session begins with clearly defining the question explored. Participants need to be aware of the reason for their involvement. Because the process is designed to draw on their insights, they clearly need to know what insights they will be expected to share.

3) Schedule a one-to-two-hour meeting that all participants can attend.

4) Provide each participant with ten sticky notes/slips of paper and one pen. The exact size of the slips to be used and the number of slips appropriate to the method, these decisions rest largely in the hands of the project manager. The number of slips will determine the volume of the outcome.

5) Explain the process and cycle through it iteratively. The facilitator will then walk participants through the process. Each participant should have one response per slip. The participants will write down their thoughts, set that slip aside, and prepare to write another idea on the next slip. The number of cycles will determine how much information is generated.

6) Evaluate your answers. It is sometimes useful for participants to rate their answers. One can use the H/M/L rating scale. Instruct participants to place – on each sticky note – a rating for probability in the upper left corner and a rating for impact in the upper right corner.

7) Gather and/or sort the data. Once sufficient cycles have been completed, the facilitator may simply gather the data and terminate the session. Facilitator can stick the answers on the wall and ask participants to arrange these responses into categories. Do this until all notes are on the wall. Any note that duplicates another note is placed over the existing note.

8) Review all the Risks. The group then reviews all the risks in the category to ensure that a high risk has not been overlooked. The highest risks go on a risk register and the others are put on a watch list. For some of the higher risks, the group may decide to perform a further quantitative risk analysis. All of the risks on the risk register are assigned risk owners and the risk owners develop risk response plans.


  • Cost for CSM is very minimal as the resources essential to CSM are very few. The technique requires paper slips, pens or pencils, a facilitator, and participants.
  • The time needed to implement a CSM is perhaps its most attractive quality. Compared to any other technique, CSM requires less time to generate more information.
  • Ease of use is another attractive trait since CSM can be incorporated into other meetings where the appropriate personnel are brought together to work on the project.
  • The project manager’s time commitment is extremely low.
  • CSM helps teams clearly identify project’s risks and engage quieter team members in group discussions.
  • It has the side benefit of supporting team building.


  • Clear and well crafted question should be posed to the group by the facilitator.
  • The accuracy of CSM is largely dependent on the insight of the process participants.
  • Their level of awareness will be a determinant of the quality of information produced. If they have project awareness plus a basic understanding of the risks that the project may face (or how to resolve them), they may be able to make significant contributions through CSM.

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Neetu Verma

Management Consultant and Corporate Trainer MBA, PMP®️, PMI-ACP®️, PMI-RMP®️, PRINCE2®️ Practitioner, SMC

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