Improv Prototyping

Duration: 1-2 hours
Difficulty Level: Hard
Group Size: < 20
Level of interaction: High
Multilanguage fit: No
Preparation Time: Long
Purpose: Development
Type of Online Events: Hackaton, Webinar, Workshop

Develop effective solutions to chronic challenges with fun

Improv prototyping is a method that helps groups explore new behaviours for challenging scenarios in an entertaining, creative, and improvised way. The method is based on rapid rounds of suggestions to solve an identified problem through shared tactics. The issue is addressed by finding simple solutions to small elements of the problem, which build up incrementally into an innovative problem-solving tool.

Use this method to:

  • Turn theory into practice:  improv is a rehearsal for real-life situations.
  • Break up a daunting task into smaller segments.
  • Engage and focus everyone’s imagination on solving confusing challenges.
  • Learn from peers who have behaviours that solve the problem.

Steps to apply this method:


  1. Define the purpose of the learning activity and the main topic for the online session—for example, challenges at work.
  2. Identify themes within the main topic in which challenges could be experienced. Examples of themes could be long meetings, quality of food in the cantine, conflict management at work, etc. 
  3. Describe the four roles: creative director and actors.
  4. Define the technological tool that you will use and familiarize yourself with its functionalities.
    • Design and prepare the online space for participants to work in small groups of 4-6 persons. Create breakout rooms.


  1. Brief participants on the purpose of the learning activity and present the roles.
  2. Participants are asked to think about a frustrating chronic challenge (a scenario) in their workplace.
    • In a poll, the facilitator presents possible themes where the challenges can be classified and asks participants to cast their votes. Based on the votes, small groups are built for the respective themes. 
    • In small groups, participants are invited to present and describe their individual scenarios. After listening to all, the group decides on one scenario to enact and present in the plenary.
  3. Distribute participants per theme in small groups of maximum 4 / 5 persons and move them to breakout rooms. Consider naming the rooms as the identified themes.
  4. Roles are assigned. The person whose challenge was elected gets to be the creative director, and the rest of the group are the actors. Working together, they will enact the scenario of the Creative Director and explore different ways in which the story can unfold based on different decisions and different behaviors. (20 minutes). Note: Check on each group during this time.
  5. All participants gather in the main room and assign new roles. The facilitator is the Stage manager, the groups presenting have their own actors and creative director, voluntary participants are Evaluators, and the rest of the participants are observers. Actors perform their scenarios (5 minutes) while observers watch and evaluators write notes, such as questions, comments, or ideas, based on what they see.  Note: The role and the moment during the learning activity define whether cameras or/ and microphones should be enabled or disabled.  
  6. After each presentation, evaluators share their notes, and the scenarios are discussed. Note: Consider the following variations depending on the available time: groups get to perform once again after receiving comments from the evaluators (Variation 1), or groups present up to 3 variations of the same challenge, and then discuss with the whole group based on comments received from the variations (Variation 2)
  7. Conclude the learning activity by inviting all participants to vote on their favourite scenario and to talk about the learning activity.

Let team members act out significant challenges they face when working with partners/clients, and explore different strategies and behaviors.

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