Round-Robin Brainstorming

This variation of brainstorming implies little verbal intervention between the members of the group and thus limits the influence of stronger personalities. Many of us encountered in brainstorming sessions people who seemed to monopolize the discussion. When this happens, reconciliation is in the hand of the facilitator.

To avoid having the discussion hijacked by a handful of people, the Round-Robin brainstorming method was invented. How does it work?

  1. All team members sit around a table. Each has an index card to record ideas on their own individual card. This is the start.
  2. The facilitator explains the challenge as accurately as possible, answers questions and keeps the discussions to a minimum. The goal of this step is that members should think of solutions by themselves.
  3. Each member writes as many solutions as possible on their index card.
  4. Once everyone is done with writing their one ideas, people switch cards. This can be done by passing the index card to the person on either side – so all cards move clockwise or counterclockwise – or just randomly switching cards.
  5. Now, each person holds the card of another team member and has to come up with new ideas by building on what he received.
  6. The card switching goes on until everyone has received the card of all the team members left.
  7. Ideas are evaluated according to the goals and to their feasibility. Don’t throw away the ideas that haven’t made the cut. Store them! Some might prove very useful when the same issue occurs or when you have better resources to make them happen.

As a personal note, I still believe that having a discussion and building ideas together can bring that feeling of problem-solving into the team, and bond the members. This is what seems to be lacking in the Round-Robin brainstorming.

As a solution to having the session monopolized by stronger personalities, the facilitator can try a warm-up session before the real issue is brought onto the table. Not only it relieves stress and  brings everyone into the problem-solving mood, it also gives an idea to the facilitator on the dynamics of the group.

Have fun trying this creative problem-solving resource and write a comment here if you have any experience with this technique or if you have any thoughts on it, or on improving it.


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