Case Study: Internal Design Method Workshops

Creating and facilitating a weekly workshop series to help each member of our studio master the design methods that define our work.

Overview

I helped enhance my team’s efficacy by creating and running a workshop series to help them quickly become acquainted with and understand the 57 methods and how to choose them. I was able to empower my teammates to rise to the next level and provide better services, while practicing designing and leading workshops myself.

Who this was for

  • Users: The designers in our new Seattle studio, including myself.
  • Client: None. I saw a need, and met it.

Obstacles & Opportunities

Limited time • Most people on our team couldn't make the sessions reliably because of client work. So I created a flexible format where you could join at anytime and not be left behind. I was new to this information, too • The entire studio was new to this information, including myself. So I used the global Fjord network and my position as a Fjord Evolution Ambassador to get additional information about the methods and educate myself in order to create useful workshops. I wasn't always successful. But the end result was a splended one. Incomplete information • There were usually no ready examples of the methods being used, and because we were all new, none of us knew the methods better than others.

My role

Workshop creator, coordinator, and leader.

Team

  • Facilitators (3)
  • Participants (up to 14)

Skills I used

User research • Surveyed designers to assess their knowledge of, interest in, and specific needs within learning the Fjord methods. • Subject matter research • Researched the Fjord Service Design Methods, reached out to others in Fjord globally to get any missing inforation and experiences, and researched design thinking methods in general to inform strategic understanding of the methods. Workshop design • Constructed sessions to meet needs of the team. • Workshop facilitation • Coordinated, scheduled, and ran most workshop sessions. Encouraged others to facilitate as well. • Design thinking • Employed design thinking methodologies and mindsets both in the understanding of the material, and in the delivery of it. • Information architecture • Researched and identified taxonomy to categorize the methods in a way that would help designers quickly understand all the methods available to them, then choose them. • With the help of workshop participants, constructed a framework using this categorization.

Tools I used

Paper, Post-its, Pens, and Brain • Printer & Scissors • Realtime Board • Excel spreadsheets • Email

CONTEXT

What was the challenge?

I started the Fjord Method Revue because I recognized a need in our small studio to train our team on the Fjord methods. Because we were a small studio and had all started at Fjord at the same time, we didn’t have access to as much training or direct experience with the methods as the larger studios. So even though, at that time, I knew no more than anyone else about the methods, I started a weekly workshop where members of our team would learn about the methods.

Story

So what did you do about it?

Research

At first, we started by reviewing one method at a time. But I quickly realized that there were more effective ways to go about it.

After interviewing designers about their needs, I found that the workshops, while informative, didn't meet designers' immediate needs on their projects: to be able to identify the right methods to use for each unique situation and part of the design process.

Information architecture

The challenge was that the method documentation contained about 60 methods, but did not categorize them in a way that helped designers identify the right methods for the project. At this point, I had done enough research into the methods to see a pattern and realize that the answer was to develop a taxonomy that would help designers find the right method.

Workshop design

I knew it would be much more effective for designers to look at all the methods at once and figure out how to categorize them. The comparison and quick orientation into the methods was more useful at this point than an in-depth exploration of each method. The reason for this is that the designers needed to be able to evaluate a client project and select from all the methods in order to pick the one that was right for them. So I modeled an exercise that would hellp them quickly become acquainted enough with the methods to be able to distinguish them. Because of designers' unpredictable schedules, I also designed the workshops so that people would not have to attend all of them in order to understand the material. And I kept the sessions short.

Workshops

This effort culminated in a finite series of workshops which functioned as co-creation sessions. Teams of designers worked together to sort and categorize the methods into high-level categories based upon the Luma Institute's Taxonomy of Innovation. Lively discussions ensued based on the category--or multiple categories---a method should belong to. We also included some of our Accenture team members in the workshops, which helped them understand--and advocate for-- our design process.

Results

By the end, we had effectively categorized all the methods into 3 categories and 9 sub-categories. In addition to the lively dialogue designers had while deciding how to categorize the methods, we had a short discussion about why we made the decisions we made. After this, designers were better able to categorize methods and to select methods. They quickly became familiar with methods they didn’t know about before, and knew where to look when they needed a new method. This enabled our studio to provide better, more Fjord-branded service to our clients.

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© Sandra Lloyd 2018