Round Robin

In French

Brief Description

This method is similar to the World Café, but with some important differences (see below). It is also called carousel, as your turn table.

When to use

Whenever you want to:
  1. surface the ideas and pre-existing knowledge and experiences of a group, which builds on the collective knowledge of a group of persons;
  2. analyse and “recompose” a situation/ issue/ problem/ domain of common interest, ie. generate and consolidate an aggregated picture of it;
  3. learn about how the knowledge of other group members complements yours.

How to use

  • The format works nicely with 20-50 persons and takes approx. 90-120 minutes (depending on the number of participants and the number of aspects)
  • An issue is discussed and analysed along a number of distinguishable aspects/ features/ fields/ dimensions (eg. talking about a network, one can distinguish aspects like management, sustainability, membership,financial aspects, decision making, relationships with external groups, …)
  • Little groups rotate from one aspect to another, quickly brainstorming on their ideas on this particular aspect and after a short time move on to the next; time spans allocated decrease from one “session” to the next (since more and more stuff is already noted by the previous groups).
  • All participants have the opportunity to look into all aspects, they don’t have to make choices; thus they can also contribute in each area what they know and think
  • Participants experience how much more the collective knows and come up with than each individually (even the best expert) ! wisdom of the mass Ideas of some persons may trigger and cross-fertilise ideas of others and thus lead to more abundance
  • The different areas/ aspects get connected – ideas from one area spill over into the other areas
  • The set-up has a playful character if it is really done fast, ie. if people are “rushed” from one post to the next.

1. Determine how many aspects you want to distinguish and deal with; divide the number of participants by this number to determine the group size. Ideally a group has 5-8 members and the issue is covered by 4-7 aspects
2. Set up one flipchart for each aspect and write a title on a flash card which you attach onto the flipchart (it shouldn’t be covered by the sheets, even if they are turned over); put enough chairs for your group size with each flipchart
3. Set up a time plan. Allocate for the first “session” approx. 15 minutes (max!), for the last 8 minutes and inbetween linearly decrease the time; add another 2 minutes after each session for rotation (ie. 15 – (2) – 12 – (2) – 12 – (2) – 10 – (2) – 8)
4. Optionally (but very recommended), end the Round Robin with each group returning to its post of departure. There they work for another 15 minutes, reviewing all the comments and ideas that subsequent groups have added and prepare a short presentation of 3 minutes.

At the workshop
5. Distribute participants into groups of equal size (usually they do that best by themselves and don’t need external aid)
6. Introduce quickly the topic and the different aspects on each post and explain them what you want them to brainstorm about; tell them to note down all their ideas on flipchart
7. Let them work their first session; 2 minutes before the elapse of time allocated to the first session, give them a warning, ie. tell them to finish their sentences on the flipchart
8. Give them a signal to move on; make sure that they really move (“sell” it as a “sports” event with some quasi-competitive character) – use a microphone if you have a low voice/ large group; nobody stays back!
9. The first thing they need to do is to study what the previous groups have done. This is important: since they have no one to “introduce” the work of previous groups, they have to “reconstruct” and interprete what they find written – an important step of sense-making! Then they add, complement, correct, specify, exemplify.
10. Let them work through all the posts, until they come back to the original one.
11. Optionally you let them now work again on their aspect of departure, where they review all the comments and ideas, summarise and prioritise.
12. Then you let them report back to the plenary the consolidated knowledge and insights of everybody in the room. Give them just 3 minutes for each post. You can alternatively put up one big circle with all the flipchart posts in between the chairs – our you move with the whole crowd from post to post (depends on the groups size and room set-up)


Tips and Lessons Learnt

(add yours)

Examples & Stories

An alternative to World Café: Using the Round Robin method in a workshop contributed by Anura Herath, CPO and Knowledge Facilitator, IFAD Sri Lanka

“Lando (CPO Philippines) and I completed a supervision mission on one of the projects in Sri Lanka. Usually we hold a stakeholder workshop at the end of the mission with all the stakeholders, project officers and implementing agencies and the beneficiaries. We present our results and recommendation for their verification. Usually this was done as a seminar and having a floor discussion and then include the comments into the Aid memo before the wrap-up.

This time we use an adapted version of Round Robin. We had 4 tables and 4 hosts. Each got a section from the Aid Memo to read and comment. Then we had 4 rounds each table moving to the other and host explaining the experience and comments on the findings. So all participants (about 50) had a chance and time to know all about the Aid Memo and to comment and agree / disagree with all the Aid Memo findings. It was a very good knowledge sharing opportunity and all participated fully. The participants were very happy that all had a chance of commenting on all the sections of the Aid memo.


• Careful selection of the host. Selecting a dynamic and open person.

• Educating the host before the session and giving a guide line.

• Providing a good overview of the importance of sharing.”

Related Methods / Tools / Practices

World Café




communication analysis knowledgesharing

Photo or image credits