What Is Round-robin Brainstorming? Round-robin Brainstorming In A Nutshell

Round-robin brainstorming is a collective and iterative approach to brainstorming. Brainstorming is an effective way of generating fresh ideas for an organization. Round-robin brainstorming is a balanced approach, employing an iterative, circular process that builds on the previous contribution of each participant. 

Understanding round-robin brainstorming

iI a group situation, brainstorming can be dominated by one or two personalities who discourage others from sharing their opinions.

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

The technique makes it more difficult for large personalities to dominate by adding structure and organization to the brainstorming process. This makes it suitable for any situation where a range of personality types need to be considered. Which is to say, most situations.

Implementing a round-robin brainstorming session

Teams should know that implementing a round-robin brainstorming session is rather easy.

Simply follow these steps:

  1. Arrange the team in a circle and give each member an index card so that they can record their ideas.
  2. Then, the facilitator clearly articulates the problem to be solved and details company objectives. At this point, the facilitator can take questions but should actively discourage discussion among group members. 
  3. In the third step, each individual should brainstorm ideas in complete silence.
  4. After brainstorming, each person should pass their idea to the person seated adjacent. 
  5. Team members should then use the idea of their neighbor as the inspiration for a new idea. In some interpretations of round-robin brainstorming, the individual identifies possible risks or obstacles to their idea. The neighbor card initially swapped in the previous step should be handed to the facilitator. Then, everyone passes their new idea to the next person to begin step four again.
  6. The circular swapping process should continue for as long as the facilitator deems it necessary. Ideas should be collated, discussed, and voted on by the group.

Advantages and disadvantages of round-robin brainstorming


  • The silent, collaborative, and iterative approach allow all ideas to be given equal consideration and the chance to be improved upon.
  • The ideation process can gain momentum as it moves around the circle, resulting in ideas that may have been overlooked in a traditional brainstorming method. Momentum can also lead to empowered teams that feel confident to act on larger or more creative ideas.


  • Some argue that a lack of idea anonymity might cause some team members to withhold their ideas. Although there is no requirement to label each idea card with a name, the process does not make it difficult to connect match an idea with a specific individual.
  • Round-robin brainstorming effectiveness can be limited since each team member can only improve on the idea of the person seated next to them. There is no capacity to gather input from every member of the group on a single idea.

Key takeaways:

  • Round-robin brainstorming is a collective and iterative approach to generating creative ideas.
  • Round-robin brainstorming is implemented in six easy steps. Each step should be completed without discussion to give creative ideas equal weight. Discussion should only be encouraged at the sixth and final step when ideas are evaluated.
  • Round-robin brainstorming helps teams build momentum and confidence, leading to creative insights that may not have been apparent in other brainstorming techniques. However, some argue that a relative lack of anonymity might still allow larger personalities to dominate the ideation process.

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"