Want to try something to get a particularly new and insightful look at a situation?

Here's how it works.

After you identify the "characters" in a particular situation, completely shift their roles. After you do that, see how the situation looks differently, simply because the characters are playing different roles.


We frequently facilitate a strategic thinking exercise that uses a character outside a situation as the perspective. This is different, however.

Here are situations where you can use it:

  • If it's a discussion for or against an idea, shift the protagonist and antagonist roles to see how the argument might change or develop.
  • If it's an interaction between people in different groups, flip the roles, characteristics, or natures of the parties.
  • If it's an evaluation of before and after performance, make the after scenario before and the before scenario after to see how the switch looks from this different perspective.

The other day, I was revisiting a personal exchange between two business people. Switching their characteristics unveiled multiple insights about the strategies, decisions, and outcomes related to their interactions. It also led to identifying other comparable situations to mine for insights and expected behaviors.

There's no guarantee this strategic thinking exercise works in every situation. There's not even a clear and certain sense of what it might yield in each situation.

Since it worked so well the other day, however, we wanted to pass it along right away as a strategic thinking exercise to consider when you have the right types of characters to make it work. – Mike Brown

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