I can imagine that a lot of you have encountered the question, how to create a great space for design thinkers. Books like "Make Space" and "I wish I worked there" are helpful. Still more helpful I would think would be the option to exchange experience.
I have learned that flexible offices are great and I have seen example like the white boards and desks from the HPI. Still I would believe there is more. Have you found great providers (not necessarily vendors) for furniture or for large whiteboards that can be used as flexible walls to modify the room on demand ? Great ideas are welcome.
What are your experience to install a prototyping area for process and service design. How to create an infrastructure that allows as much freedom for creativitity but keeps still data security in place ?
Questions, a company needs to deel with.
I would love to share experience.
It's a great topic I have been thinking a lot about lately.
Creative spaces are a very important part of cultivating a creative and innovative culture. My colleagues and I have been facilitating many creative session at many different organizations, countries and many different spaces. The differences have been huge. As a facilitator you notice that the energy in the room is effected by many thing like light, air, view, chairs etc.
This "end-user" knowledge and expertise of these spaces now has been inspiring us to start designing these spaces. If you would like to chat, I'm happy to share all I know or connect you to some experts.
I come from theater, and we use theatrical tools in our service design work. One of the most important is the theatrical concept of "Safe Space" - the physical and mental space which allows us to fully commit to innovation and development (or, as we call it in theater, "rehearsal".
As an actor, when I enter the rehearsal room I know I am entering a Safe Space. Whichever theater I am in, it looks the same - black curtains, high ceiling, no windows, minimal furniture. (If the dancers use it too there will be mirrors - but I will draw the curtain over them.) Those visual cues, and my years of experience, immediately put me into a mental space where I know I am welcome to fail, that nothing which happens here will go outside the space until I choose to take it out. In a design process where we are working with cocreative partners, that experience or that tradition is not there, and we have to create the Safe Space in very short time, with people who might not be used to welcoming failure.
A few lines from our Touchpoint article "Beyond Roleplay" might help explain how we do it:
Lack of attention to Safe Space is one reason that design roleplays usually under-perform. In a typical 7 hour co-creative session, we might spend 2 hours establishing a Safe Space. It generates a relaxed attitude to failure, which will otherwise restrict creativity and honesty.
Physically, the space needs to be flexible and private. Shut the door, draw curtains, and remove most of the chairs - you'll be on your feet. Grab anything you can to serve as props (Rule 3: "Use What You Have"). Imprecise, abstract or fun props free creativity and are more useful than costly replicas in the early stages.
The key to safe space is showing that normal rules do not apply. Show by your behaviour that the participants, not the designers, are the experts. Bosses are not welcome to "sit in", so invite them to join in, or go away. There is no rank in a rehearsal, and there are no right or wrong answers. Avoid "good" and "bad" - just describe how the play-through of a suggestion feels, and decide together which ones to follow up. The Director should keep it fun, but focussed and real (Rule 2: Play seriously).
A Safe Space cannot be declared, it must be embodied. The best way is by openly breaking rules and routines: be surprising, use high energy warmups, invite people by chicken, let participants build the set, rearranging and thus "owning" the room. Embody playfulness, finding your own way (it doesn't have to be rubber chickens) to show that you do not take yourself too seriously, while remaining earnest about the customer and their issues.
Most importantly, never confront inexperienced participants with a blank stage and say "now we act". Carefully choose a sequence of methods which ease into the true rehearsal phase, increasing interactivity and involvement with each step,. For example, start with group storytelling, then personal stories, storyboarding, presentation, allocating roles, setting up stage and props, a quick walk-through, and then slip straight into the investigative rehearsal. Preserve Safe Space by making sure that nobody plays himself (especially when reenacting own experiences). Don't talk about roleplay, theatre, or the stage - just say "show me".
(That last paragraph is less relevant here, but I'll leave it in for completeness.)
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I think a lot of what makes a good rehearsal space will make a great space for design thinkers. You might not want to black out the windows, but you will not want to feel overlooked - especially if the space is to be used for co-creation.
Perhaps my main tips would be:
1. Make sure it feels unlike normal work spaces.
2. Provide lots of materials which can quickly "become" anything - papers, moveable walls, props, gimmicks.
3. Have too few chairs. Keep people on their feet, "doing not talking".
4. LET THE PEOPLE SHAPE IT THEMSELVES! This is a big one. We always set up the room in a very traditional way, then make the participants move everything into their own new shape. If they can change the room, they own it.
5. Most importantly, the room in itself is nothing. It is like a product without a service around it. Use the physical creative space of the room as part of a planned process to bring the participants into a mental creative space. That is the real magic.
Happy to chat any time,
I realise you were thinking in terms of physical space, but I think it is crucial to see this within the framework of a process which brings the participants into the corresponding mental space - at least until your physical space develops its own tradition. :)
I'd be happy to chat about this any time. I am Adam StJohn Lawrence on Skype.
All the best,
¡Hola KAtharina! For whiteboards I recommend dry erase paint. Companies like Solutions MB or IdeaPaint have great products.
If we look at design thinking spaces from the perspective of letting participants think freely in order to create new outcomes and solutions, one idea that has always appealed to me is the idea of the kindergarten environment.
The kindergarten, for a lot of different reasons, is something that we as adults tend to forget.
But if we look at the way those environments are designed and the purpose they serve (playfulness, social interaction, learning, promotion of creativity, no boundaries, the materials present) we could be asking: "what if we could create a kindergarten for adults?".
What if we could go back to that space what would we find? would the furniture be bigger? would we be able to think as children again? Freely, but at the same time focused on the problem we have in front of us?
What if we had furniture proportionally bigger to our size? would that bring about a new perspective on how we deal and look at things?
A couple of years ago, together with a friend of mine, we were invited to conduct a session about ideas generation with people from an engineer background. Although we didn't win that bid, I remember our proposal caught the client's eye because we tried to recreate a childhood environment in the space the workshop was to take place.
Hope this might help you. I would be happy to discuss this further.
This is an interesting idea, but I don't think we need to be smaller to be playful. There are other aspects of Kindergarten which are easier to reproduce - colour, toys, safety, energy and the playful social environment. I think it is more about permission to play, and even the celebration of not taking yourself seriously.
At the Global Service Jam, many people all over the world spontaneously adopted a tradition of, well, basically silly hats and rubber chickens. The result - apart from thousands of great pictures - was people saying they did several weeks work in one weekend...
I agree. I specially like your notion of the "celebration of not taking yourself seriously". And am not absolutely sure whether being smaller would actually contribute to the creative process.
It was just a "what if" moment, since working / living spaces and the way in which people are influenced by them has always attracted me.
(Apropos, the Channel 4 documentary by Tom Dyckhoff - The Secret Life of Buildings) (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-secret-life-of-buildings) presents a lot of inspiration with that regard)
The notion of being "smaller" is also something I started to think after visiting my kindergarten a few years ago, almost 20 years after I left. On that day I personally felt that what used to look huge and allowed me to think big was actually quite small. Not only did it feel that I wouldn't fit there physically, but also intellectually.
Almost as if the space had shrunk in a way that even my mind had no place there.
So, I would say it is just natural curiosity that makes me wonder whether we, as adults, would think differently if the space we are in was actually bigger.
On another note, the last third of the following article actually gives a great insight on how some famous spaces (where some great ideas were produced - Building 20 at the MIT and Pixar studios), were actually thought and organised: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/01/30/120130fa_fact_lehrer?....