Design Thinking has evolved into an approach that can benefit a wide range of industries and contexts, starting with how it facilitates good communication and constructive teamwork. We’d like to share five useful tips for how you can use Design Thinking to change the way you conduct your meetings.
It’s no coincidence that we chose to give you five tips, as they follow the five main steps of the Stanford Design Thinking Process: Empathize, Design, Ideate, Prototype, Test. Let’s break it down:
Is your meeting room dark and cold, or bright and inviting? Does it have fresh air? Are refreshments and snacks easily available for meetings lasting over half an hour? Studies have shown multiple benefits from curating the environment in which meetings take place. Design Thinking involves thinking about people first before generating a solution. Therefore, think about the people who spend the most time in the meeting room and create an environment that makes them feel comfortable, helps them focus and encourages productivity. Even a small change like ensuring chairs are comfortable and supportive can have a long-term impact on the success of your meetings.
This is the most important step. Most meetings take a turn for the worst when people stop listening to each other and competition replaces collaboration. It’s important to start every meeting by making it clear that first we need to seek to understand each other and then move on to solving the problem. Throughout the first half of the meeting, every person should have the chance to provide input while the others listen and then the focus can shift to generating solutions.
Before generating solutions, however, it’s important to consolidate what exactly needs to be solved, which decisions need to be made as well as the potential challenges and pain points that might be encountered.
It’s important to have someone lead this discussion and focus the team so that each person gets a chance to speak and raise a variety of considerations.
Two words : Sticky notes. At Rocketfuel, we record all our ideas on sticky notes so that each person gets their say and we can capture everyone’s genius. Once everyone’s recorded all their ideas on stickies, they can be placed on the wall, categorised and discussed. If there is any contention, a voting process can take place. However, no-one must reveal their votes until everyone has had the chance to view the selection of ideas and pick their favourites. Then, everyone gets the go-ahead to mark the stickies they favour to cast their votes. The meeting lead can then arrange the sticky notes in a pyramid with the winning ideas at the top. The lead gets to decide how to proceed, knowing the team’s preferences.
With the focus provided by the ideation and voting process, the top ideas need to be fleshed out further and imagined in different forms. Rocketfuel frequently uses the ‘Crazy 8’s’ Sprint exercise to accomplish this.This involves everyone getting given an idea to explore further on a sheet of A3 paper that’s been divided into 8 blocks. In each block, they can illustrate an iteration of their assigned idea, with words, pictures or a combination of the two. Each person gets a minute to present their iterations and the team discusses how to proceed.