My Agile 2011 workshop – How to design stuff that matters, fast

That's me telling the best in the Agile world how to design fast!

If I had to sum up Agile 2011 in Salt Lake City, Utah in three words it would be, “Wow, wow, wow!” I was lucky enough to have been accepted to present, speak and run a 90 minute workshop at the 10 year anniversary of the signing of the Agile Manifesto.

Workshop attendees had to solve my design challenge in less than 90 minutes. The trick is, the actual challenge is not revealed till 5 minutes after the start of the workshop. With ‘surprise’ workshops like this it is vital for me to get participants to emotionally buy-in to the challenge from the very beginning in order to then successfully guide them rapidly through each step of my design ideation and creation techniques.

My workshops are very fast and furious. There is very little time to think. More importantly, though, there is, however, just enough time to be creative and make decisions in order to move on to the next creative ideation technique phase.

Here is are the workshop slides

My take on important factors when running a collaborative workshop where time is short and creativity needs to be high:

  1. Set the scene. Make it real and personal
    “New conference attendees who arrive in a foreign town away from home have limited knowledge about where to go and what they can do locally…”
  2. Surprise them. Issue the challenge and make sure it is interesting
    “Design a mobile app to help people new to Salt lake City & Utah explore all that the area has to offer from a ‘local’s’ perspective.”
  3. Let them know it can be done
    Show participants what each subsequent creative ideation technique phase is going to be. Give them an overview from start to finish. Giving them this visibility will help them understand what they need to complete to proceed to the next phase.
  4. Guide each step of the way
    I had to facilitate 6 teams in the workshop. Even though personal attention all of the time is not possible, I gave them hints and tips at each creative ideation technique phase on screen, then proceeded to walk round and act as a design ‘catalyst’; challenging ideas and creatively ‘nudging’ teams to help them move towards successfully completing each phase.
  5. Make it good not just OK
    Just because it is a 90-minute workshop where time is short does not mean the ideas need to be ‘below-par’. I always encourage participants to push their ideas harder and further. After all if you can’t do it when you are having fun (hopefully) when are you going to do it? Some participants are there to just observe and learn the techniques, which is great but I always make sure each teams knows they have to present back to each of the other teams. I find that introducing this low level of competition makes team members want to do a better job of their overall idea.
  6. Be passionate
    My workshop was a huge success and for me personally, I never tire of seeing how creative people and teams can be once they embrace and start sketching! I am so privileged and proud to have been allowed the opportunity to share the way I do things in the best possible way… by being infectious and work together with willing individuals to collectively create some thing from nothing in less than 90 minutes. I do this every day of my life. For me this way of agile creative ideation is part of my DNA and I hope has become part of all those who I have ever worked with.

Thank you to Darius Kumana, Darci Dutcher, Jeremy Sutherland, Anders Ramsay, Pat Kua, Martin Fowler and Jonathan Rasmusson as well as all other participants for making my day in Salt Lake City one of the best ever!

 

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