Brainstorming. The “Round Robin”....
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Round Robin Brainstorming.
The “Round Robin” Method.Round Robin Brainstorming is a widely applied and very successful method directed towards problem solving and continuous improvement. In the traditional “free form” brainstorming session, team members are encouraged to suggest ideas, and other team members try to build on these ideas. One of the problems inherent with the “free form” approach, is that the more vocal, more assertive team members can influence the direction of discussion and idea generation down a path which aligns with their own thinking and can result in the team veering away from actually find the true root cause of a problem.
For example, consider a team formed to understand why an item of process equipment is experiencing frequent breakdowns. The team may consist of representatives from production, maintenance, quality, engineering, etc.. At the start of the brainstorm session, the team leader explains the rules and asks for suggestions. Immediately, the maintenance person, suggests “procedures not being followed by production”, consequently the brainstorm session may follow a path where ideas are suggested as to how to get the production personnel to “follow procedures”. This may be a valid path to follow, however, in a team with some very strong vocal personalities, and quieter team members, the team leader may find it difficult to get a broad balance of ideas generation.
The “round robin” approach is a modification to the “free form” approach to Brainstorming, which seeks to balance out the relative strengths of personalities within the team.
The round robin can be broken down into the following sequential steps:
Step 1: The team leader explains the objectives of the brainstorm session, encourages questions but asks the team members to keep their ideas to themselves.
Step 2: Each member of the team is provided with a blank card for writing ideas onto.
Step 3: The team leader then asks each team member to think about possible ideas and to write one idea onto their blank card.
Step 4: Once each member has written down their idea, they pass their card onto the person next to them, so that all the cards (and ideas) move onto a new person. There is no open discussion at this stage between the team members, so that the ideas are kept relatively concealed.
Step 5: The leader then asks the team members to consider the ideas suggested on the cards they are now holding, and to make further suggestions based on these ideas.
Step 6: Again the cards, now with two suggestions each, are passed onto the next team members. This process is repeated, until team members get exhausted of ideas, or the team feel that sufficient ideas have been generated.
Step 7: The cards are now gathered-up by the team leader and posted-up onto a board for all to see.
Step 8: The team now goes back to the “free form” approach and start to discuss the ideas, combine duplicates, discard those that may be seen as unworkable, prioritize those for further investigation, etc..
Advantages & disadvantages of the “round robin” approach to Brainstorming.Under the round robin approach, all team members have an equal voice in idea generation, therefore ideas and consequent follow-up discussion is not based on individual assertiveness or individual passion for the topic in question. Sometimes individuals like to think quietly about a problem, and the open discussion format of the “free form” approach can hinder their thinking. The round robin forces a respect for ideas as each team member has to consider the prior single idea suggested and build on this suggestion.
A disadvantage of the round robin is that the initial quiet, documentation steps, can work against the fundamental spontaneous nature of Brainstorming, where the focus is to create an open forum, where ideas are spontaneously suggested, often in rapid suggestion, and where a form of comradery can be created which helps build a unified team approach to addressing the problem under consideration.
The “round robin” can also take longer to complete as the initial stages need time and in many work environments, there are tight time resource constraints.
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- Continuous improvement utilizing Analytical Techniques.
- 5 why’s analysis
- Process Flow Diagrams/Flowcharts/Process Mapping
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- Run charts
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- Cause and Effect/Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
- Identifying sources & causes of variation
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- Cpk and Ppk Analysis
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