From the ubiquitous Post-it® Note to Post-it® Dry Erase Surface, Post-it® Brand offers a number of tools to bring out the very best collaborative experiences amongst your colleagues. However, we know that collaboration isn’t simply limited to tools — nor is it confined to a handful of techniques. That’s why we’ve teamed with Jeff Gothelf — a speaker and thought leader on the future of user experience and design — to offer his approach to collaboration and the benefits gained from sharing & working together.
Design Studio (sometimes called Design Charrette) is a way to bring a cross-functional team together to visualize potential solutions to a design problem. It breaks down organizational silos and creates a forum for your fellow teammates’ points of view. By putting designers, developers, subject matter experts, product managers, business analysts, and other competencies together in the same space, and focusing them all on the same challenge, you create an outcome far greater than working in silos allows.
1. Problem definition and constraints
2. Individual idea generation (diverge)
3. Presentation and critique
4. Iterate and refine (emerge)
5. Team idea generation (converge)
The process works best for a team of five to eight people. If you have more people, create more teams and have the teams compare output at the end of the process. The specifics of the ritual are not the end goal: instead, you should be aiming to solve problems with your colleagues and clients.
The first step in Design Studio is to ensure that everyone is aware of the problem you are trying to solve, the assumptions you’ve declared, the hypotheses you’ve generated, and the constraints within which you are working. This step can be anything from a formal presentation with slides to a group discussion, based on the team’s level of comfort.
You’ll be working individually in this step. Give each member of the team a 6-up template—a sheet of paper with six empty boxes on it.
Next, with your blank 6-up sheets in front of you, give everyone five minutes to generate six low-fidelity sketches of solutions for your particular challenge. These should be visual articulations (UI sketches, workflows, diagrams, etc.), not written words.
When time is up, share and critique what you’ve done so far. Going around the table, give each participant three minutes to hold up his or her sketches and present them to the team. Presenters should explicitly state for whom they were solving a problem (persona), which pain point they were addressing (hypothesis), then explain the sketch. Each member of the team should provide critique and feedback to the presenter.
Make sure that every team member presents and receives critique.
Now ask everyone to work individually once more. Ask each participant to take his or her original six ideas and, using the critique they just received, to refine their thinking into one big idea on a single Post-it® Big Pad. The goal here is to pick the idea that has the most merit and develop a more evolved version of that idea.
Once time is up, ask the team to go through the present and critique process again.
Now that everyone on the team has feedback on his or her individual idea, the team must converge on one idea. In this step, the team is trying to converge on the idea they feel has the biggest chance for success.
Ask the team to use a Post-it® Easel Pad to sketch the components and workflow for their idea. There will be a lot of compromise and wrangling at this stage; to get to consensus, the team will need to prioritize and pare back features. Encourage the team to create a “parking lot” for good ideas that don’t make the cut, which will make it easier to let go of ideas.
The artifacts created in the design studio are now used to create refined wireframes, prototypes, and early code that will drive the team forward in proving their hypotheses — with the potential to create a minimal viable product if all goes well!
Jeff Gothelf is a lean UX evangelist, spreading the gospel of great team collaboration, product innovation and evidence-based decision making. He is the co-author (with Josh Seiden) of “Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience” and the upcoming “Sense and Respond” (sensingbook.com)