Equation for Design by Committee bring the balance of power into the equation By GK Rowe, XD“A CAMEL IS A HORSE DESIGNED BY A COMMITTEE” — Sir Alec IssigonisMost people don’t like to work on projects that are Design by Committee. The road ahead suddenlylooks dim when there is a realization that a group of people will be convening to give their subjectiveopinions. How many times have designers dropped off a proposed plan that was well received in theinitial introduction; however, received the call the next day with a critique that was made by a familymember that isn’t even involved in the company project?From my personal experience, it has can be challenging working on Design by Committee projects thatare have little to know structure. Having worked on multiple projects that incorporate creative thinking,creative solutions, organizational dynamics, communication skills, and artists from all mediums, Idesigned a simple system that is easy to use and works well for groups that are working together todevelop creative solutions.If you use this organizational tool, please give me feedback on ways to improve the process.Another similar resource using a different approach to navigate a design-by-committee including thehistory and how and why they fail can be found here:http://sixrevisions.com/project-management/how-to-navigate-design-by-committee/
Identify the committee’s charge or objective Step 1: Identify the committee’s charge or objective. It is critical to take the time to define the necessary objective that the committee members will be responsible for achieving. The initial charge, responsibility or duty of the committee should be clearly defined and limited in scope. If there are multiple objectives, they should be addressed separately so the committee can focus acutely on each initiative. Example 1: Healthcare design committee is charged with the task of art selection for patient’s rooms. Example 2: The committee is being charged with developing a mission statement. Example 3: The committee is charged with developing creative solutions to increase member donors. “The brain constantly receives new inputs and needs to store some of them in the same head already occupied by pervious experiences. It makes sense of its world by trying to connect new information to previously encountered information…present knowledge can bleed into past memories and become intertwined with them as if they were encountered together. The typical human brain can hold about seven pieces of information for less than 30 seconds! If something does not happen in that short stretch of time, the information becomes lost.” Brain Rules by John Medina
Identify the fundamental function Step 2: Identify the fundamental function: What is the purpose of the project, product or services being designed? Compile relevant information that will enhance the end-user experiences. In Example 1, it is the intention of the artwork to enhance a patient’s recovery process. It may also need to meet the design standards of the hospital using Evidence-based art practices. “Many design professionals focus on appearance, in part because this is what can be appreciated from a distance and, of course, all that can be experience in advertising or marketing photograph or print illustration Most designs fail because designers and engineers are often self-centered. Because most people are unaware of their true needs, discovering them requires careful observations in their natural environment. The trained observer can often spot difficulties and solutions that even the person experiencing them does not consciously recognize.” Emotional Design by Donald A. Norman A university was expanding the campus with new facilities. When it was time to decide on where to place the sidewalks, the university president was reluctant to make a decision at the frustration of many of the contractors. After the buildings were built and the students had an opportunity to use the facility – he allowed the sidewalks to be poured and instructed the contractors to follow the paths the students had already made on the property.
Identify current challenges and obstacles Step 3: Identify current challenges and obstacles: Why is there a need for a new system, product, program or service? Identify the problems or challenges with the current situation or identify what is missing that needs designed. A bucket list or punch-list of items will be helpful when reviewing alternative and creative solutions. Example 1, challenges and obstacles may include budget restraints along with intrinsic functions such as cleaning the artwork in a health care environment, securing the work so it is safe. Additionally, the challenge may be in finding images that meet Evidence-based art practices. “When we analyze a big, complicated problem -- like malnutrition in Vietnam, or a married couple nearing divorce, or a business on the verge of bankruptcy -- we seek a solution that befits the scale of the problem. If the problem is a round hole with a 24-inch diameter, our brains will go looking for a 24-inch peg to fill it. So, naturally, the experts on malnutrition in Vietnam wanted to talk about poverty and education and sanitation systems. Our focus, in times of change, goes instinctively to the problems at hand. Whats broken and how do we fix it? This troubleshooting mind-set serves us well -- most of the time. If you run a nuclear power plant and your diagnostics turn up a disturbing signal once per month, you should most certainly obsess about it and fix the problem. And if your child brings home a report card with five As and one F, it makes sense to freak out about the F. But in times of change, this mind-set will backfire. If we need to make major changes, then (by definition) we dont have a near-spotless report card. A lot of things are probably wrong. The "report card" for our diet, or our marriage, or our business, is full of Cs and Ds and Fs. So if you ask yourself, Whats broken and how do I fix it?, youll simply spin your wheels. Youll spend a lot of time agonizing over issues that are TBU. When its time to change, we must look for bright spots -- the first signs that things are working, the first precious As and Bs on our report card. We need to ask ourselves a question that sounds simple but is, in fact, deeply unnatural: Whats working and how can we do more of it?” Switch: Don’t Solve Problems— Copy Success by Dan and Chip Heath
Enter a brainstorming session Step 4: Enter a brainstorm session: Creative types like to introduce their ideas. Each member of the committee should have the opportunity to speak independently without interruption. The facilitator should determine the length of time given to each member when they have the floor and discourage any cross-talking or “conversation”. Interest should be given to provide a “safe” environment for members to expose radical ideas and concepts without negative feedback. Every idea and concept should be validated and recorded. “Human decisions can be about outcomes as large as whether to take a job, or as small as what to have for dinner. In such situations, our brains are called upon to integrate extremely disparate types of information. Unfortunately, our brains are not naturally equipped to do a good job at integrating complex quantitative facts, probably because they evolved primarily to negotiate social situations and survive natural threats, not to do quantitative puzzles. Classical economic reasoning assumes that individuals are able to evaluate costs and benefits rationally, but the brain’s methods of estimation are not good at making such valuations. The payoffs of extremely low-probability events, such as winning the lottery, do not appear to be represented accurately in the brain. If we don’t have any intuitive idea of what it means when a probability is below, say, one in one hundred, then the incredible unlikelihood of a lottery payout is not scored rationally. Even though long-term losses are virtual certainty, just one anecdotal story of a big winner remains a motivating factor that is weighted out of all proportion to any reasonable expectations. So people persist in buying lottery tickets, a fact exploited by financially strapped governments everywhere.” Welcome to Your Brain by Sandra Aamodt
Select the top optimal solutions from the brainstorming session Step 6: Select the top optimal solution from the brainstorming list and evaluate the outcome through the Design by Committee process assessing the possibilities through steps 1 through 4. The committee should collectively select the top optimal solutions or concepts generated from the brainstorming session. Process the prospective solutions through the same process by evaluating the potential outcomes and how they measure up against the identified objectives as they relate to function and end-user needs. Step 1: Identify and evaluate the selected solution against the initial charge. Does it meet the necessary objectives? Step 2: Take the proposed solution through all end-user steps and examine the interaction. Identify challenged areas as well as enhanced end-user experiences. Step 3: Examine the solution against the fundamental functions. Does the solution resolve any current challenges? Also explore the possibilities of any new challenges created by implementing the proposed solution. Step 4: Brainstorm specifically on the current proposed solutions to resolve any overlooked or under- identified problem areas and explore other options that my enhance end-user experiences.
Best Meeting PracticesSet-UpMake sure committee members are able to see and hear each other speak. Presentation materials should belegible. Name tags or nameplates are helpful when convening with new members for the first time.Meetings should be facilitated by a chair that can manage the topics being discussed, ensure time limits areenforced and prevent any off-course discussions, cross-talking or hijacking of the meeting. A secretary or note-taker should record members in attendance and specify items with deadlines and assignaccountability.Have an AgendaStart with an agenda with a beginning and an ending time and monitor your time spent within each section. Thelarger the group, the longer the meeting. If you plan to go longer than 1 hour, it is recommended that a break begiven.IntroductionIf members are coming together for the first time, allow time for short name/title/interest introductions.Facilitator should provide any housekeeping information such as where the restrooms are located.Facilitator should review the agenda with the group and confirm the order of business and remind members of theprocess – through each of the stages. I.E. no cross-talking or conversations in the brainstorming sessions.Check-InThe Check-In process can resolve multiple objectives and get the committee prepared for the meeting. If there arenew members you may choose to do this with the introduction. Give your name and some backgroundinformation or a personal note about you and/or your interest in the organization. If introductions have beendone, use the time to speak on a personal note about your day, interesting part of your life or what you gave up tobe at the meeting. This also allows members to get “settled” with the shuffling of papers, coats, etc.Check-OutBefore adjourning the meeting, it is helpful to have a formal check-out process. Each member is given theopportunity to reflect on the meeting, identify any un-spoken truths or simply comment on the process.
GK ROWE, XD is an Experience Designer and Principal Partner, Director of Creative Development for Q7 Associatesa multimedia marketing and design firm located in Indianapolis Indiana. GK has formal education in Fine Arts,Design, Natural Wellness and Education including studies abroad in Italy, London and Paris. He continues toinfuse creative solutions and experience design concepts into the business world through multidiscipline mediumsapplying neuroaesthetics in the healthcare, hospitality and corporate industries. Committed to a higher level of aesthetics, GK serves as the President for the Indianapolis Museum ofContemporary Art Society, co-developed the art program for the InterContinental Chicago-O’Hare hotel andcontinues to support art education as a faculty member at the Art Institute of Indianapolis and is a member of theNational Arts Education Association.For more information:www.gkrowe.comwww.q7associates.comwww.facebook.com/q7associateswww.twitter.com/quantumseven