Round Robin Brainstorming — An inclusive tool for inviting (and building on) everyone's ideas

The Round-Robin brainstorming method is not only a great way to compress the volume and voices in meetings, but is a unique, collaborative tool for developing multiple ideas at once in a way that everyone participates equally.
Leiilo2
Illustration by Leillo

YOU WILL NEED

— A stack of index cards or post-it notes, preferably the same colour

— Something to write with

— A designated chairperson

1

After everyone has sat down for the session, the chair hands each person a blank index card or post-it.

2

The chair outlines the purpose of the meeting; the objective, the themes they’d like to explore, the ideas they want generated. They take questions from the group, but clarify the need for silence. All conversation will be done through the index cards.

3

Each team member writes down, on their card, their first idea.

4

Once all ideas have been jotted down, the index cards are passed to the left or right. Everyone around the table will now have their neighbour’s idea.

5

The chair hands out another round of blank index cards. Using their neighbours card as a launchpad, each person generates a new idea. It can either be a brand new idea that the last has spurred on, or it can be a development / improvement.

6

After the new idea has been written down, each person hands in the card from their neighbour that inspired it.

7

Repeat steps 4 and 5 until a) the index cards have run out, or b) the group is satisfied with the amount of ideas generated.

8

When the session is drawing to a close, the chair collects all the cards, removes the duplicates, and opens up the meeting for a group discussion - What idea of your own was your favourite? Which of your neighbours was your favourite? How do we want to move forward?

NOW

The Round-Robin method is unique in its embrace of both collaboration and solitary creative thinking. It drowns out the louder voices that influence group work, provides a structure and

space where quieter or less confident team members can present their ideas, and (above all) it’s really fun.

It’s also a method you can be creative with. Swap out a stack of index cards for a large sheet of paper for example, one sheet of paper per person. Get each member to write their idea at the very top, and pass it round the table from person to person, allowing each individual to expand only upon the last - a kind of brainstorming game of consequences.

Feeling brave?

How might this work virtually on Miro or Mural?

Good to know...

You might want to warm the group up first, priming them for participation. Take a look at this simple list of, not to cheesy, energising exercises.

More Resources