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« Role play thinking »


Role play is an excellent way to explore new ideas. Consider how an actor takes on the characteristics of a subject and how the great ones can actually think like that person. Playing a historical person, for example, they trace the character's neuropathways in their own brains by rehearsing situational reactions and are transformed by the process.

From an altered thinking perspective, take a glimpses into new potentials. Imagine stepping into somebody's else's mind for moment and benefitting from their views. How would Buddha think? What would Jesus do? Would Alexander The Great think that way?

Role play can break down a group's normal paradigms are resistances by asking them to examine a situation differently.


Purpose: To generate ideas from various points of view.

Time: Varies with objective.

Equipment: Flipchart and pencils, costumes, props, mood music.

#1 Write down the problem statement or the creative need on a flipchart and answer any clarification questions by the participants.

#2 Pick a variety of roles (as many roles as there are people in the group), and assign one role to each person. One person can assume more than one role. The roles can be realistic or bizarre depending on the group, its willingness to experiment and the type of problem you are solving or solution you are seeking. The exercise may be conducted a brainstorming-syle free-form session or specific time may be invested in a ritual enactment of a predetermined script. Give yourselves to the ritual so as to emotionally experience the roles) and their requirements.

#3 Each person takes a turn, in character, generating a list of possible solutions from his/her perspective. A facilitator writes these ideas on the flipchart.

#4 Encourage everyone in the group to become fully involved in their roles. You want the « role's» opinions... not the players.

#5 Afterwards discuss the problem,/opportunity together and bring the insight you acquired to the others.


Examples of roles you can play are:

Realistic roles
  • supervisor is a hierarchical sandwhich
  • stakeholder worried about long term viability
  • CEO with global perspective
  • lawyer looking at rules
  • accountant with a diversity of options
  • customer not quite sure
  • child with that the incessant "why" question
  • professor with reasons why-not

    Fantasy roles

  • clown
  • king
  • critic
  • prostitute
  • explorer
  • sorcerer
  • artist
  • chef

    Famous people roles

  • daVinci
  • Madonna
  • Groucho Marx
  • Abe Lincoln
  • Picasso
  • Albert Einstein
  • Helen Keller
  • Bill Clinton

    Animal archetype roles

  • dolphin
  • bat
  • elephant
  • frog
  • monkey
  • dinosaur
  • snake
  • butterfly

    Invent your own categories - like group-play roles:

  • Knights of the Round Table
  • Hunter-Gatherers
  • Essene Sect from Bible
  • Jaguar-kings/Queens of Mesoamerica
  • 1st American Pioneers
  • Pro Sports Team
  • International Aid Workers

    Etc., etc.

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