Prep Time:
Time to run:
1-3 hours

Alternative worlds template

A way of using different perspectives to help generate fresh ideas

Courtesy of our friends at

Use the alternative worlds template to investigate how a successful organization or group outside your domain would approach a given issue. Doing so requires a deep understanding of their culture, practices, and procedures, in order to determine what aspects can be appropriated for your purposes.

Adopting the perspective of a completely different domain is a novel way to shift perspective and uncover potentially breakthrough ideas.

The alternative worlds template helps you:

  • Encourage creativity and outside-the-box thinking
  • Provide new perspectives
  • Increase engagement and participation
  • Foster a culture of innovation

How to use the alternative worlds template

In this section detail each step of the process in using the Mural template. These steps may be taken directly from the template itself.

1. Define the problem or challenge

The first step is to define the problem you’re trying to solve with your brainstorming. This can be done before the meeting and participants can also be assigned pre-work to ensure that you get the maximum engagement and impact during synchronous brainstorming.

2. Introduce the concept of alternative worlds

Here’s where you can ensure that everyone has the right context before you begin—outline the alternative worlds approach and go over the alternative perspectives you’ve decided to examine during the session.

The Mural alternative worlds template provides examples and suggestions across the following categories:

  • Creative organizations
  • Charities and public service
  • Innovative business and operating models
  • Individual people
  • Great customer service experience
  • Global reach and footprint
  • Your own alternative world

3. Identify the alternative worlds to be used in this exercise

Once you’ve selected your alternative worlds, try to immerse your participants in each one of the alternative worlds as much as possible to help understand different perspectives.

4. Brainstorm ideas independently

Use Mural’s private mode, or even asynchronous brainstorming, to have each participant think through the challenge from the perspectives included in the exercise.

5. Vote to determine the best ideas

When all participants have contributed their ideas across the alternative worlds you’ve included, bring the group back together and use Mural’s anonymous voting to select the best ideas across the team.

Tips for running an alternative worlds template workshop

To get the most out of an alternative worlds brainstorming exercise, you should:

Choose alternate realities that are relevant to the problem or challenge you are addressing.

By choosing relevant alternate realities, participants will be more likely to generate ideas that are useful and valuable.

Provide clear guidelines and expectations for the exercise.

Make sure that participants understand the purpose of the exercise and how to use the provided template or guidelines.

Encourage participation and collaboration.

Make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute and that ideas are built upon and refined through collaboration.

Allow for flexibility and creativity.

Don't be afraid to explore unconventional ideas or to deviate from the provided guidelines if it leads to new and innovative solutions.

Follow up on the ideas generated.

Identify next steps or actions to take based on the ideas generated and ensure that they are followed up on to maximize the value of the exercise.

How to create a Alternative worlds template

Mural makes collaborative brainstorming easy, whether in real-time or asynchronously

With Mural, your team can ideate collaboratively and effectively while avoiding groupthink, using our unique suite of features and tools.
Real-time collaboration

Real-time collaboration

Add more productivity and engagement to meetings and calls with features to guide collaboration.

Asynchronous collaboration

Asynchronous collaboration

Innovate and collaborate effectively together without booking time on calendars.

Sticky notes & text

Sticky notes & text

Add ideas, action items, and more as a sticky note or text box — then change the colors and cluster to identify patterns and new solutions.

Anonymous voting

Anonymous voting

Gain consensus and reach alignment quickly, either in real time or asynchronously.

Private mode

Private mode

Avoid groupthink and get authentic feedback by allowing collaborators to add content privately.



Keep collaboration moving forward with a timer to structure and time-box activities.

Alternative worlds template frequently asked questions

What is an alternative worlds exercise?

What is the purpose of alternative worlds brainstorming?

How is the alternative worlds method distinct from traditional brainstorming?

LUMA Institute

Template by LUMA Institute


LUMA offers acclaimed in-person training, custom innovation programs, and a unique digital platform (LUMA Workplace), used by innovators in over 70 countries. Leading organizations around the globe rely on the LUMA System of Innovation — a practical, flexible, and scalable approach to Human-Centered Design.