Fishbowl technique introduction

The Fishbowl technique is an idea generation technique that teaches a team to break through patterns. The Fishbowl is a simple creative technique that can be used quickly during meetings, team meetings and brainstorming sessions. Because this technique is so simple, it is very accessible and usable. It provides a different view on and dynamics in the subjects and towards the teammates. This method has been developed to confront the breaking of patterns.

To perform this technique as well as possible, two groups of people are needed, both forming a circle. This requires an inner and outer circle, where the outer circle observes the inner circle for behaviours, statements and actions.

The fishbowl technique
The fishbowl technique

The term fishbowl stands for the patterns in which people end up. This refers to habituation, doing things as the individual, team or organization is used to doing. When the group is in the inner circle, it is difficult to recognize patterns within themselves and to judge whether the things being done still match. Therefore, a second group is needed that is located in the outer circle and can observe the inner circle from there. By taking a step back, patterns can be seen and then discussed and broken.  


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Fishbowl technique

Executing the Method

  • Step 1: Schedule

    Schedule a meeting, team meeting or brainstorming session.

  • Step 2: Create groups

    Organize two groups to start the fishbowl. Where one group forms the inner circle and one group the outer circle.

  • Step 3: Starting

    The inner circle starts with the meeting, team meeting or brainstorming session. The second group of team members forms a circle around the inner group and observes the people in that group. Determine whether the group is generally observed or per team member.

  • Step 4: Take notes

    Make sure there is no interaction between the group of people in the outer circle and the group of people in the inner circle. The group surrounding it listens and takes notes on what they see and hear say in the inner group.

  • Step 5: Exchanging information

    Once the meeting, team meeting or brainstorming session is over, the team members from the outer circle share their information with the people in the inner circle. In this way patterns become transparent. The next step is to break these patterns.