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The “what if” shower

What if we looked at the problem differently and thought “outside the box”?



This is a technique that groups can use to probe an individual to help broaden their perspective of a given topic.


Time needed: 4 minutes per participant


Key steps

  1. Split the participants into small groups of 4 to 5.
  2. Ask them all to reflect in silence on a topic or question they’d like the group’s help with, and to write it down on a sheet of A4 paper.
  3. Ask for a volunteer to reveal what they’ve written, and to explain the topic in one sentence.
    E.g.: “I can’t decide if I should continue or abandon the project I’m currently working on.”
  4. The other participants then ask “what if” questions [4 minutes].
    E.g.: “What if you were your manager, what would you do?”, “What if you had to make a decision right now?” “What if you had to wing it?” “What if you didn’t have a choice?” “What if there was no shadow of a doubt that whatever you did, the project would be a failure? A success?”
  5. The participant being questioned does not respond but takes note of all the questions, exactly as they are asked.
  6. At the end of the 4 minutes, another participant shares their question or topic and is then questioned by the others, and so on until everyone has had a turn.
  7. Debrief
    To finish, each group goes round one by one and shares what they have taken away and what has helped them in relation to their original question.

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