Design Studio Facilitation

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Design studios are useful for helping a group of people converge on an idea. This post provides a PDF presentation for facilitating a design studio workshop, including an additional optional section for refining ideas when the desired result is to generate multiple ideas. The general pattern is:

  • Generate ideas
  • Present
  • Get feedback
  • Refine and converge the ideas

About the facilitation

This design studion facilitation is appropriate for one group of 4-8 people, if you’re just working on one idea. Or several groups of 4-8 people (no limit on the number of groups), if you’re generating multiple ideas.  I like the way the design studio workshop is explained by Jordan McNamara, and I based my presentation on that format.

Basic steps

  • Split the participants into a group or groups
  • Start out with a short warm up to set the stage for the speed of the facilitation.
  • Explain the boundaries for the ideation -> is there a theme? Are there specific goals? Is there background information that is useful for the participants?
  • Start the design studio. A series of rapid sketching and brainstorming.
  • End the final iteration with a sales pitch poster/presentation
  • If you have multiple groups, refine the sales pitch by getting feedback and incorporating it into the sales pitch. I use either ritual dissent, where the group who sees the presentation gives back critical feedback (the facilitation is nicely described in the link) or just having the group give interactive feedback, both good and bad to the participants. (use either pages 22 or 23 in the presentation)

Note about timings

  • I usually give the groups 1 minute to draw the warm up pictures to ensure that they kept their pictures as high level as possible
  • If this is a group’s first encounter with a Design Studio, I give them 5 minutes to draw their ideas for the first time, and 3 minutes the second time. With more experienced teams I give them about 3 minutes each time. Read the room, if people are starting to finish early, stop the timer early.

When to use a Design Studio

I’ve used this method to help guide ideation workshops for

  • Hack day to help refine a potential product MVP with reps from business and product development
  • A PR/marketing group workshop to generate ideas an energy for a new collaboration
  • At the end of a course to help the participants create proposals for community initiatives
  • Brainstorming product direction with product owners

PDF format of the presentation

I hope the presentation helps you facilitate your next Design Studio!

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