Round-Robin and Roundtable brainstorming


Round-Robin brainstorming, the verbal and written versions

Spencer Kagan (1992) popularized the use of the terms Roundrobin (to refer to an spoken turn-taking strategy) and Roundtable (to refer to a written turn- taking strategy).
This technique involves taking turns and having teammates contribute one answer at a time. This technique is ideal in providing every participant, including those less expressive, an equal chance to contribute, and it greatly slows down the more dominant individuals.

Round-Robin  Technique (The verbal version)

The round robin brainstorming tool is a variation of the classical brainstorming in that the team facilitator calls in turn on participants (round robin style) to give their ideas, which are then recorded on a flip chart. Instead of the participants being encouraged to shout out ideas at random, each person in turn is asked to make a contribution. This process continues, and ideas are recorded until all participants have passed during a round. The ’round’ is repeated several times until it appears that ideas have dried up or until a fixed period of time has elapsed.

Roundtable Brainstorming (The written version)

a) One paper version

Procedure Steps
1. Take out one sheet of paper for your team to use. Listen to the question.
2. Write one answer on the paper while saying it out loud.
3. Pass the paper to the teammate on your left.
4. Listen to the one answer that each of your teammates will write.
5. Write an additional answer that no one has mentioned the next time the paper comes to you.
6. Listen to the additional answers from your teammates.
7. Continue contributing answers, one at a time, until time is up.

b) Stack of cards version

Procedure Steps:
1. Participants receive a stack of index cards.
2.In  silence, each person takes a card and writes down one idea. He or she then passes the card to the person on the right.
3. That person reads the card and uses it to generate a new idea.
4. Then he turns the first card upside down in a stack, and passes the new card to the right.
5. The process of writing new ideas and passing to the person on the right continues for a set amount of time, perhaps ten minutes.
6. At the end, the facilitator gathers the cards. Each idea is read alound, and the cards are then arranged and grouped on a whiteboard or wall, with duplicates discarded.

c) Small groups version

Procedure Steps:
1. Divide whole group into small groups (one group per table).
2. Assign one topic per table (A, B, C, D, …).
3. Give each table a piece of flipchart paper to write their brainstorming ideas.
4. After 2-3 minutes, topics (and flipchart papers) rotate to the next table, and the process begins again.
5. Continue until all tables have brainstormed all topics.
6. Review completed flipcharts with the whole group.

d)  Sequencing version

This movement in turn or around the table continues throughout the session. In this technique, the moderator goes in order from one member of the group to the next in turn or sequence. Each member gives whatever ideas he then has, and they are written down. If a member has no ideas, he just says, “Pass,” and the next member responds.


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