Rolestorming

Improving Group Brainstorming

Masks playing different roles.

Generate ideas using someone else's perspective.

© iStockphoto/Elnur

Have you ever been in a brainstorming session and had a good idea that was a little "out there"? If so, you might have kept the idea to yourself, because you felt embarrassed about sharing it with your group.

After all, if the idea was too far-fetched or different, it might damage your reputation, right? However, you may have felt more comfortable sharing your ideas if they were "someone else's." This is where Rolestorming is useful.

This simple brainstorming technique encourages group members to take on other people's identities while brainstorming. This reduces the inhibitions that many people feel when sharing their ideas with a group, and it helps people come up with ideas that they may not have otherwise considered.

About the Tool

Rick Griggs developed the Rolestorming method in the early 1980s. Dr Arthur VanGundy then described it in his 2004 book, "101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem-Solving."

Griggs developed the technique to help people overcome their inhibitions during group brainstorming sessions. The theory is that if you pretend to be someone else, you'll feel more comfortable putting ideas forward. This is because taking on another role distances you from owning an idea, which helps you speak up.

You can also come up with additional ideas when you look at a problem from someone else's perspective.

What's more, Rolestorming is fun, and it's great for helping team members feel more comfortable sharing ideas with each other. It also builds confidence, because shy or less assertive people feel empowered to speak up.

Using and Applying Rolestorming

Follow these steps to use Rolestorming with your group:

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