Role Playing

Role-playing is a type of prototyping used to simulate a situation by acting it out.


What is Role Playing?

Role-playing is a type of prototyping used to simulate a situation by acting it out. In Design Thinking, role-playing is used to give the audience an example of what the user’s experience with a proposed solution might look like. Through role-playing, the Design team creates an improvised situation that represents a potential use case for their solution, or a likely scenario that may arise during the customer’s journey and interaction with the solution.

Although role-playing is primarily used during the Prototyping step of the Design process, the activity can also be used to gain empathy for the user’s experience during the earlier steps of the process. When used during the Empathize step of the Design process, the Design team can gain an empathic understanding of the user’s experience through simulating what that experience feels like by re-enacting scenes and situations that the customer encounters.

Benefits of Role Playing

The main objective of role-playing is to make an idea tangible enough for someone to provide feedback on – whether that is from the other people on the Design team, the customer, or other stakeholders. Some other benefits include:

  • Ideas and experiences are more vivid and memorable because they were experienced physically, rather than on paper, or in concept.
  • Stimulates creative thinking and adaptability, as team members have to think on their feet to act out certain situations and scenarios.
  • Provides the flexibility to test a variety of ideas through the use of props and imagination.
  • Judgement free improv. Team members are able to think outloud without fear of judgement, since they are simplying playing a character.
  • Great method for collecting feedback. As the team acts out their ideas, they can ask the audience to take notes and share ideas on how to make the solution better.
Design Thinking Role Playing template
Design Thinking Role Playing template

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Role Playing is a critical step in the Design Thinking process when designing a new product or service. Role Playing allows the design team to experience what the customer experiences and what a proposed solution might look like. This topic is a core concept of applying creative problem-solving through design thinking. To learn more about design, please visit our Introduction to Design Thinking Course.

The Design Thinking course teaches a creative problem-solving that will give any professional an advantage in their industry or career.


  • Designers or Product Development professionals that are motivated to bring innovative new products and services to their business and customers.
  • Consultants who want to offer their clients a model for applying creative problem-solving to help address business challenges.
  • Human Resource professionals seeking to develop more human-centered solutions to support workforce members while driving higher levels of employee engagement.
  • Members of Leadership who are wishing to gain competitive advantage by differentiating their business’s products and services.
  • Individuals or Teams that are searching for new ways to solve complex problems by placing the customer’s needs at the center of their solutions.
Design Thinking Training, continuous improvement certifications

This course will help expose the learner to various design thinking tools and mental models – all with the emphasis on innovating through creative problem-solving.


Our objective is to provide the learner with practical tools for applying a versatile 3-step design thinking process within their organizations. Through this framework, the learner will be able to reframe problems from the customer’s perspective. With this perspective in mind, the learner will drive improvements around the customer experience using tools such as deep-dive interview, journey mapping, empathy mapping, and rapid prototyping.

Need help introducing use of a Role Playing at your organization?

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