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Sparking Collaboration Through Creative Play

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“Fail forward”
"Every journey begins with a single step"
“Do or do not, there is no try”

There’s no shortage of inspirational mantras, but these sayings offer little advice to surmounting departmental silos, generational gulfs, intimidating power distances and other communication roadblocks that stymie creative collaboration in the workplace.

These barriers exist because the roles we play in a team environment provide us with a set of rules for interacting with each other. Ironically, these rules often prevent us from doing the very thing we’ve come together as a team to do: Collaborate!

In this session, Carolyn and Anna will discuss how to break the rules and transform those roadblocks into building blocks… freeing you and your team to live up to the mantra of your choice.

Learn about common communication barriers; why they exist and how they hinder team innovation.
Understand the value of design synthesis as a group activity, and how play is a central component to the co-creation dynamic.
Explore a type of creative team play called a Spark-a-Thon. You’ve probably heard of the hack-a-thon, a fun and popular way to immerse yourself into a problem and solve it with code. What would happen if this format of time-limited, team-oriented creation was applied to design concepting? The answer: The Spark-a-Thon, which leads to bigger ideas and a stronger team problem-solving dynamic.
Gain tips, tricks, and resources, so that you can go run your own Spark-a-Thon. You'll leave armed with some benefits and results you’ll glean from it, too - just in case you need to build an internal business case for it.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father. Join us to learn some serious play!

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Sparking Collaboration Through Creative Play

  1. BURNING DOWN THE BLOCKS! SPARKING COLLABORATION THROUGH CREATIVE PLAY
  2. HELLO, IT’S NICE TO MEET YOU. CAROLYN CHANDLER ANNA VAN SLEE @chanan @adventuringanna
  3. LET’S GO ON AN #ADVENTURE
  4. HERE IS OUR ADVENTURE MAP: SPONGE SPARK SPLATTER SCULPT STORYTELL Choose a design challenge and immerse in the related context. What do you want to make better? For who? Take insights from Sponge. Define your audience and their needs. Generate the solution idea you want to design. Brainstorm multiple ideas (quantity over quality). Explore possible features and content. ! Form and refine your solution with user insights and design strategy. ! Express the importance and meaning of your solution.
  5. LET’S PLAY ! (AGENDA) • Problem: Barriers to Group Co-Creation • Solution: Collaboration Strategies • In Practice: Spark-A-Thon! • Tips, Tricks & Hacks
  6. WE’VE GOT PROBLEMS Barriers to Collaboration and Co-Creation: • Departmental Silos • Generation Gaps • Power Distances
  7. DEPARTMENTAL SILOS One person = One role = One great way to stifle creativity
  8. GENERATION GAPS From WiFi to Hi-Fi, we’ve got some differences to overcome.
  9. POWER DISTANCES Pressure to perform can be murder on creativity
  10. KEEP CALM & COLLABORATE Strategies to Maximize “Group Think” Dynamics: • Focused Challenges • Abductive Logic • Play
  11. FOCUSED CHALLENGES Adding and removing constraints can force a game-changing perspective shift in your perspective on a problem.
  12. ABDUCTIVE LOGIC Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a non sequitur.
  13. PLAY Play is practice for the real world, but without the consequences
  14. THE SPARK-A-THON
  15. SPARK-A-THON TYPE A The Problem-Finding Spark-a-Thon encourages bigger-picture thinking and involves field exploration (LET’S START ONE NOW…)
  16. REMEMBER MAD LIBS? • Shout out some Activities! • Next, give us some User Types! • Finally, let’s have some Improvements! IF YOU ARE DOING THIS FOR WORK, MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE SOME ELEMENTS THAT ARE RELEVANT TO THE PROBLEM YOU WANT TO SOLVE.
  17. Spark Frame Make this activity... Considering these problems... Considering these problems... improved in this way (more, less...) for these people: we’ll spark solution ideas by asking: CHALLENGE SPARK SOLUTION IDEAS
  18. START YOUR ASSUMPTIONS! Break into teams of 2-4 with the folks around you and discuss your Challenge. What is good about this situation now? What’s broken? What do you think are the most urgent problems to solve? WHEN YOU’RE DOING THIS FOR-REALSY, COMMIT TO A MULTI-DAY AFFA I R .
  19. MAKE TIME FOR INTROSPECTION
  20. GET OUT IN THE FIELD
  21. IN SUMMARY… The Problem-Finding Spark-a-Thon is good when your team is jumping to solutions too quickly. It encourages bigger-picture thinking and involves field exploration. It helps with building a more collaborative team culture around ideating. Think 80% play and 20% work.
  22. SPARK-A-THON TYPE B The Problem-Solving Spark-a-Thon develops collaborative creation and idea refinement
  23. PROVIDE CONSTRAINTS
  24. Spa Day Planner (Hypothetical Challenge) Hosted parties are a common approach that our consultants use to share their passion for products, and to gain new customers. Our company and its consultants have a business goal to increase the number of parties hosted. ! However, encouraging non-consultants to host parties can sometimes be difficult due to: ! • Scheduling difficulties • Reluctance of potential guests to attend a “product-centric” party • Other reasons? Challenge: Design a party-scheduling tool that also helps overcome other obstacles that may interfere with attendance. !
  25. Spa Day Planner: Personas Patricia the Planner (32) Patricia is an avid explorer of her city - if you go to a fest in the summer, you’ll probably run in to her. She’s also the magnet that draws her friends together. About once a month, she tries to plan a get-together. Patricia really likes the idea of doing double-duty, supporting her friend (who is a consultant for the company) and hosting a spa event that will draw out her friends. As a vegan, she’s also interested in our products herself, but hasn’t tried them yet. Goals • Find or host interesting events - ones that will get several of her friends together. • Be a supportive friend. • Have an event that she can host with minimal work, so she can enjoy the party itself. ! Frustrations • It’s so hard to get friends to commit! Everyone has such busy schedules, and many of Patricia’s friends have kids, so they have to arrange for babysitters or work with their spouse’s schedules. Patricia feels like she spends most of her time negotiating dates, or trying to think of events that will really get friends interested and excited. • Patricia is worried that some of her friends may feel pressured to come to a party where products are being sold.
  26. ROLE-PLAY
  27. GENERATE IDEAS
  28. CHOOSE THE BEST TOGETHER
  29. SHOW OFF YOUR STUFF
  30. IN SUMMARY… The Problem-Solving Spark-a-Thon is good when your team has trouble expanding on ideas and then choosing the best - saying no to the rest. It encourages team decision-making and provides guidance on navigating the uncomfortable aspects of criticism. Think 50% play and 50% work.
  31. TIPS, TRICKS & HACKS: • These exercises can be used together, or separately • Try a play warm-up to get people “in the mood” • Solicit ideas both coming into the activity (or have some pre-prepared), and after it’s over
  32. THANK YOU! YOU’VE BEEN A REAL TROOPER! @chanan @adventuringanna

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