The “round robin” method is a technique for generating and developing ideas in a group brainstorming setting.
It relies on an iterative process building off consecutive contributions by each participants, conducted in either written or verbal variations.
The basic structure of a round robin session begins with a central theme, question, or issue which the facilitator identifies for discussion. Arranged in a circle, participants begin by considering the question. One participant is selected to lead off the process by offering a single thought or reaction, either out-loud or on a piece of paper/index card. In a verbal format, the rest of the participants remain quiet during his or her answer. Once this first participant is finished contributing, the participant sitting directly to his or her right contributes an additional point, idea, or thought. Working clockwise around the circle, each participant either speaks or writes a single idea - ideally one which has not yet been mentioned - until a full circle has been completed or the time reserved for the exercise has passed. During this period, the facilitator records insights and central points raised. The session then concludes with a group discussion.
Round robin brainstorming has the distinct advantage of encouraging contributions from all participants, including those who typically remain silent It also provides each participant an equal opportunity to voice their thoughts, and a space to present their ideas without undue influence by potentially overly-assertive or vocal individuals. Keep in mind, however, that this is not an anonymous process – a skilled facilitator will have to make an effort to build a climate of trust, or else participants may feel shy about speaking out or knowing that the person next to them will be reading their idea.
Advice for using this method
- Round robin brainstorming can be adapted to larger groups by dividing the total body of participants into smaller individual groups, and having each sub-group develop a single idea. The process described above is then conducted – each sub-group either speaks in turn or passes their written response to the next sub-group.
- In the written variation of round robin sessions, participant contribution can also be anonymised by collecting cards from the entire group at the same time, shuffling them, and reading them out one by one.
"Round robin", in Kagan, S. et al (2007) Kagan Cooperative Learning (Kagan Publishing, San Clamente, CA).
'Round robin' is referenced in:
- Rainbow Framework :