BrainstormingInterpersonal Skills

Round-Robin Brainstorming

What is Round-Robin Brainstorming?

Round-robin brainstorming is a collaborative and cyclic technique for generating innovative ideas within an organization.

While brainstorming is a popular way of generating fresh ideas, it can often be dominated by one or two individuals, which can stifle the creativity of other group members.

Round-robin brainstorming, on the other hand, is a more balanced approach that involves an iterative and circular process that builds upon the previous contribution of each participant.

By adding structure and organization to the brainstorming process, it becomes less likely for dominant personalities to control the conversation, making it a suitable technique for any situation where a range of personality types need to be considered.


In a round-robin brainstorming session, each participant is given an opportunity to share their idea, one at a time, while the facilitator records each idea on a shared document or whiteboard.

The group then has the opportunity to build on previous ideas or generate new ones. The process continues until all participants have had a chance to contribute.

How it Works?

Here are some key points to keep in mind when using Round-Robin Brainstorming:

  • Define the problem or topic: Before beginning the Round-Robin Brainstorming session, it’s important to clearly define the problem or topic you are trying to solve or explore. This will help focus the group’s thinking and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Choose a facilitator: The facilitator’s role is to guide the session, keep track of ideas, and make sure everyone has a chance to contribute. It’s important to choose someone who is organized, objective, and able to manage the discussion.
  • Set ground rules: Establish some basic ground rules for the brainstorming session, such as no criticism, no judgment, and a focus on quantity over quality. This will help create a positive and open atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable contributing.
  • Start with a warm-up: Begin the session with a warm-up exercise, such as a quick word association game or a short creative writing exercise. This will help get everyone in the mindset for generating ideas.
  • Begin the Round-Robin Brainstorming: Start with one person and go around the room, giving each person an opportunity to contribute one idea at a time. The facilitator should record each idea on a flip chart or whiteboard.
  • Build on previous ideas: As the group generates ideas, encourage them to build on previous ideas and develop them further. This can help spark new ideas and create a more collaborative environment.
  • Don’t critique ideas: It’s important to remember that during the brainstorming session, the focus should be on generating as many ideas as possible, not on evaluating or critiquing them. There will be plenty of time for analysis and evaluation later on.
  • Wrap up the session: Once the group has generated a sufficient number of ideas, wrap up the session by summarizing the ideas and discussing next steps. This could include choosing the best ideas to pursue, assigning tasks to team members, or scheduling a follow-up meeting.

Round-Robin Brainstorming is a simple yet effective technique for generating ideas in a group setting. By following these key points, you can ensure that your brainstorming session is productive, collaborative, and focused.

Advantages of round-robin brainstorming

Round-robin brainstorming has several advantages, including:

  1. Equal participation: Round-robin brainstorming ensures that every member of the group has an opportunity to contribute their ideas. This helps to prevent dominant personalities from monopolizing the conversation, which can stifle creativity and prevent some participants from sharing their ideas.
  2. Builds on previous ideas: The round-robin approach allows each participant to build on the ideas shared by the person before them. This helps to create a sense of continuity and can lead to more creative and innovative ideas.
  3. Encourages active listening: Because each participant has to wait their turn to contribute, the technique encourages active listening. Participants have to pay attention to what is being said and think about how they can build on those ideas.
  4. Provides structure: The round-robin approach provides structure to the brainstorming process, making it easier to manage and facilitating more focused discussions.
  5. Inclusive: Round-robin brainstorming is a more inclusive approach that takes into account the needs and ideas of every participant. This makes it suitable for any situation where a range of personality types need to be considered.

Disadvantages of round-robin brainstorming

While round-robin brainstorming has its advantages, it also has some disadvantages. These include:

  1. Time-consuming: Going around the room and having each person contribute one idea at a time can be a time-consuming process, especially in large groups.
  2. Limited participation: In some cases, participants may not feel comfortable sharing their ideas in a group setting, which can limit the effectiveness of the technique.
  3. Lack of spontaneity: Because participants are taking turns contributing ideas, there may be a lack of spontaneity in the process. Participants may feel pressure to come up with an idea that builds on the previous one, rather than sharing their own original ideas.
  4. Repetition of ideas: As the group goes around the room, there is a risk of repeating ideas that have already been shared. This can lead to a lack of variety in the ideas generated.
  5. Groupthink: In some cases, the iterative and circular process of round-robin brainstorming can lead to groupthink, where participants conform to the ideas of the group rather than sharing their own unique perspectives.

Many prominent companies use round-robin brainstorming, including Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

These companies often use it in conjunction with other brainstorming techniques to encourage equal participation and collaboration among team members.



Marty Hoffman

Marty Hoffman, MBA, PhD Management Consultant for Fortune 500 and Corporate Strategist 📍 San Francisco, CA More »

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