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Top Five

This easy synthesis tool can help you prioritize, communicate, and strategize with your team.


Suggested Time

30 Minutes

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed

Pens, Post-its


Design team

Process Phase

Ideation is a tough and heady phase of the human-centered design process. This simple exercise gives you a break from the deep thinking and simply asks, what are the top five ideas or themes sticking out to you right now. Not only can answering this question as a team help you strategize, but it can also help uncover themes, isolate key ideas, and reveal opportunities for design.


  1. Gather your team and have everyone write down the top five ideas jumping out at them.
  2. Share your top fives and cluster similar ideas. This is a great way to reveal what’s most interesting or important at a given time.
  3. Consider doing this exercise often. And vary the timeframe. What’s your team’s top five for the day? How about for the week? You can also use this tool to pull out the top five biggest challenges you face, or the top five crazy ideas you want to try.
  4. Keeping and displaying the Post-its with your top fives is also a great way to watch your project evolve and to remind yourself of your priorities.