John Ellison

Day 45: Analyzing Workshop Outputs

6 min read

On Day 45 Andy P had the morning booked with an NVC workshop and I had some catching up to do with other project initiatives, namely Silverback.

We went to lunch as a team to celebrate James Bates's birthday.

james bates birthday

Sitting Down With Andy P

After lunch Andy P and I sat down and spent about an hour sorting through all of the opportunities generated from Sam's story. We individually went through each sticky note and jotted down trends, patterns, themes and observations.

Here are my notes from sitting down with Andy P:

my notes from the observations with andy p

We spent at least 45 minutes discussing what insights we'd gleaned from our observations. It was great to see such strong commonality between our thinking. We decided to head upstairs to a whiteboard and refine our insights into something that we could work into a value proposition.

We knew that because of Sam's story we were going to be working on a value proposition that was open to the public. Based on the workshop we knew that all the other stories were going to be propositions targeted at private companies. So we headed upstairs with a few useful distinctions in our mind.

The public vs private distinction was apparent from the project onset but we didn't fully understand who and why. The hero personas and the story workshop helped us gain insights that weren't otherwise available.

One of the insights was this very clear distinction between training and mentoring/coaching. We understood after the workshop that training was topical information about a given skill or domain: Responsive re-design, mobile first, personas, user stories, workshop facilitation, agile teams, etc.

Coaching and mentoring was about helping individuals implement and apply the skills taught in the context of training. Coaching was about using the wisdom that only experience can provide to help someone navigate the waters of practical application:

  • When do I use lo-fidelity sketches as opposed to wireframes?
  • What are the benefits of designing an interaction with a developer?
  • How do I create shared understanding among project stakeholders about the outcome of research?

With these clear distinctions in mind, we felt empowered to define our public value proposition.

Brainstorming The Proposition

During the brainstorming session, we started off with some pretty high-level concepts. To be honest it didn't really look any different than the ideas we had in our initial meeting. But there was something in the conversation that sparked a thought in my mind.

Earlier when Andy P and I were analyzing the opportunities that arose in Sam's story, I kept thinking that there is a solution which meets the needs of people like Sam who are just getting into design as well as other people on the spectrum of design maturity.

In my mind I saw a chain of individual links composed of each of the hero's needs in our stories:

chain linked needs

I envisioned a type of marketplace where the commerce was learning. The whole concept of 'share what you know' would become the vehicle that would allow people like Sam to learn from people like Nicole. It would allow Lisa and Nicole to understand each other and for them to exchange insights from different levels of design maturity and leadership. It would allow for people like Teddy to learn from others who were experiencing difficulties just like he was.

The image filled my mind of a conference filled with different cells of information that exchanged goods with one another.

The 'Aha!' Moment

As we started examining the ideas on a whiteboard, I had an 'Aha!' moment.

It was difficult for me to describe in words, so I tried to draw it.

The idea was to invite a large audience of people with different levels of design maturity into one room. Diversity was key. We would then use a Lean Coffee type of discussion to uncover the biggest struggles people were facing in the workplace. We would then use a similar activity to uncover what people's greatest motivations were. Based upon motivations and obstacles we would then have people form into smaller groups (say 8 to 12 people).

In each of the groups, we would have an elected facilitator whose role was to help use the motivations to guide the group as well as the individuals past their obstacles to their desired goal. It would be like an immersive course where the curriculum is designed on the fly by the participants themselves.

Andy P suggested that the facilitator could be someone like Andy Budd who had loads of experience in Design and a large network of professionals across industries. Someone like Andy could leverage his experience and his network to help the group reach their goals. He might invite one of his friends who specialize in connected devices to speak with the group, or he might setup a talk with a service designer agency who had experience dealing with the problems identified in the group.

Here was our whiteboard at the end of the session:

chain linked needs

Picking Up The Next Day

By the time our idea had a bit more flesh and bones, it was the end of the day and we decided to pick up on the proposition tomorrow.

Andy P's girlfriend was taking a course that was similar to what I was talking about called Being Wild Things—a business school for how the world is now.

I had a sense that there needed to be a high level of challenge and a high level of commitment presented to the participants. This needed to be something that people put all their beings into.

We needed to have commitment amongst the group as well as a commitment amongst the individuals to help one another accomplish their goals.

It sounds super vague and airy but I think there is something in this concept: A highly diverse team of cross-disciplinarians who want to use the power of design to create innovation in their workplace.

I left the session with a stream of ideas pouring through my head. I wanted to continue working on the concept, but we still had another day ahead of us...