Brainstorming is a well-known technique for generating new ideas, but sometimes it can be challenging to come up with fresh perspectives or ideas. That’s where Rolestorming comes in – a creative technique that takes brainstorming to the next level.
This article will explain the Rolestorming technique in detail, highlighting its advantages and disadvantages.
What is Rolestorming?
Rolestorming is a brainstorming technique where participants are assigned specific roles to generate ideas related to a problem or challenge. The roles could be customers, competitors, experts, or anyone else relevant to the situation. The technique was developed by Rick Griggs in the 1980s and has been used by organizations worldwide to improve their ideation process.
How Rolestorming Works?
The following are the steps involved in the Rolestorming technique:
- Identify the problem or challenge that needs to be addressed.
- Choose the roles that will be assigned to the participants. These roles should be related to the problem or challenge.
- Assign roles to each participant, making sure that everyone has a different role.
- Each participant assumes the role assigned to them and generates ideas from that perspective.
- Participants share their ideas with the group, and everyone discusses and builds on them.
In Rolestorming, the participants are assigned specific roles or personas that are relevant to the problem or challenge being addressed. These roles could be:
- Customers: Participants take on the role of the customer to gain insights into their needs, wants, and pain points. By understanding the customer’s perspective, the group can generate ideas that are more customer-centric and aligned with their needs.
- Competitors: Participants take on the role of a competitor to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies. By understanding the competitor’s approach, the group can generate ideas that can help the organization differentiate itself and gain a competitive advantage.
- Experts: Participants take on the role of an expert in a particular field related to the problem or challenge. By tapping into the expertise of the participants, the group can generate ideas that are informed by the latest research and industry trends.
- Others: Depending on the problem or challenge, participants could take on a variety of other roles. For example, if the challenge is related to a specific department within the organization, participants could take on the roles of employees within that department.
Example of how Rolestorming could be used in a business setting
Imagine a company is trying to develop a new product to compete with a rival in the market. To generate ideas for the product, the team could use Rolestorming and assign roles to each team member:
- Customer: One team member takes on the role of a potential customer and provides insights on what features they would want in the product.
- Competitor: Another team member takes on the role of the rival company and provides insights on what they are doing well and where they are falling short in the market.
- Expert: A third team member takes on the role of an expert in the industry and provides insights on current trends and best practices.
- Employee: Another team member takes on the role of an employee of the company and provides insights on what the company is capable of producing and what limitations they may have.
- Investor: A fifth team member takes on the role of an investor and provides insights on what types of products are likely to succeed in the market and what risks the company should consider.
- Partner: Another team member takes on the role of a potential partner and provides insights on how the product could fit into their business strategy.
By assigning specific roles, Rolestorming helps to ensure that the group is generating ideas that are relevant and specific to the problem or challenge at hand. It allows participants to think outside of their own perspectives and gain new insights by seeing the problem or challenge from different angles.
Advantages of Rolestorming
Rolestorming is a powerful brainstorming technique that offers several advantages for generating new ideas and solving problems. Here are some of the key advantages:
Encourages creative thinking from different perspectives:
One of the primary advantages of Rolestorming is that it encourages participants to think creatively from different perspectives. By adopting the role of someone else, individuals can explore a problem or challenge from a different point of view, leading to innovative solutions that may not have been considered otherwise. For example, a participant who takes on the role of a customer may provide insights into customer needs and preferences that the team may have overlooked.
Helps participants step out of their usual ways of thinking:
Rolestorming can also help participants break out of their usual ways of thinking and avoid common biases and assumptions. By adopting a different persona, individuals are forced to look at the problem or challenge from a new angle, which can help uncover new solutions or ideas that may have been missed if everyone stuck to their usual thought patterns.
Generates a wide range of ideas and viewpoints:
Another advantage of Rolestorming is that it generates a wide range of ideas and viewpoints. Because each participant takes on a different role, they bring unique perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table. This variety can lead to a more diverse range of ideas and a richer discussion than traditional brainstorming methods.
Provides an opportunity for participants to learn from each other:
Finally, Rolestorming provides an opportunity for participants to learn from each other. By adopting different roles, participants can gain new insights into different aspects of the problem or challenge and learn from each other’s experiences and perspectives. This can help build a stronger sense of collaboration and teamwork, which can be beneficial for future projects.
Disadvantages of Rolestorming
Like any technique, Rolestorming has its disadvantages, including:
Time-consuming to assign and explain roles:
One of the potential drawbacks of Rolestorming is that it can take more time to set up and explain the roles to the participants. Each participant must understand their assigned role and the specific perspective they need to adopt to generate relevant ideas. This process can be time-consuming and may require additional resources to effectively execute.
Some participants may not fully commit to their roles:
Another disadvantage of Rolestorming is that not all participants may fully commit to their assigned roles. Some participants may find it difficult to step out of their usual ways of thinking and may not be fully invested in generating ideas from a different perspective. This can lead to incomplete or ineffective idea generation.
May not be effective if participants are not familiar with the roles assigned to them:
Rolestorming relies on the ability of participants to effectively adopt and embody the roles assigned to them. If participants are not familiar with the roles assigned to them, they may not be able to generate ideas effectively. This can limit the diversity and quality of ideas generated during the session.
Many organizations have used Rolestorming to generate innovative ideas, such as:
- Microsoft used Rolestorming to develop its Kinect device, assigning roles such as “child” and “dancer” to generate new ideas for the product.
- IDEO, a design consultancy, used Rolestorming to create a new hospital gown, assigning roles such as “nurse” and “patient” to generate ideas.
Rolestorming is an effective brainstorming technique that encourages participants to think from different perspectives. By assigning roles, participants can generate a wide range of ideas that may not have been possible using traditional brainstorming techniques. However, it is important to be aware of the potential disadvantages of the technique and to ensure that participants are fully committed to their assigned roles.