Collaborative design is a powerful source of value and innovation. After you've framed the problem using research, baselines, personas and scenarios, collaborative design sessions are the forum you use to explore how you might solve a design challenge, to ask, "what if?" They involve dialog, exploration, discomfort, inspiration, brainstorming, reconciliation and definition.

These sessions help the teams we work with connect the dots, challenge what is, and imagine what might be. We use the diversity of our collective perspectives, expertise, intuition, and curiosity as a creative springboard. These design sessions can be super-fun, rewarding, and challenging. If you are thinking about trying out the process, here are a few guidelines to help you get the most out of your investment.

Bring an open mind. Think of these as working sessions, not meetings. Teams have to travel the path together, so it’s important for every member to participate fully and stay focused on moving the team forward. Expect to evolve your thinking and find new insight, and help others, gently, to do the same.

Do More:

  • Explore
  • Listen
  • Inspire
  • Be inspired
  • Share your experience
  • Withhold judgment
  • Observe
  • Consider what’s possible

Do Less:

  • Defend
  • Interrupt
  • Convince
  • Advocate
  • Conclude
  • Hold side conversations

I'm constantly surprised by how much teams can get done when everyone agrees to cultivate these behaviors. If you haven't participated in a formal collaborative design session, an experienced facilitator can help you find your way..