No Story, No Glory!

No Story, No Glory!

Ianus Keller asked me to put together a workshop on the creation of scenarios and/or storyboards as part of a series of extra curricular workshops organized to close the gaps students are feeling in their chosen paths, studying at the Delft University of Technology.
I did not have to think long to come up with a general premise for this class, which is why  I started  the first real explorations with an extra ordinary  host: Pieter-Jan Stappers, professor of design techniques at the faculty of Industrial Design in Delft.
thinkingwith pieterjan
Now with some 11 years of design experience of my own we were able to fly-over and dive deep  into the subject of storyboarding or telling user stories. We ended up covering most of the Whiteboard walls in STUDIO TALK, which by the end of our exploration was exactly the skill we wanted the students to (re)-discover. Being able to explore a general idea and find focus by making the start-up process visible and clearly articulate what it is you want to design for whom, is something that even designers still have trouble with. It is however the start of any good design story…so this is why we ended up settling on creating a workshop for groups to find their SHARED STORY and move from being a group of individuals to a DESIGN TEAM with a shared goal and story to realize!

[Writing this now, I realize that we strayed from the given scenario path, driven by a shared frustration of students nowadays attacking any problem with a laptop… The faculty used to be filled with hands on practical MacGYVERS, which seems to have ‘evolved’ into some sort of  an IT-Lounge filled with networked designers. To bring back some HANDY WORK into the way master students start up their design challenges together, logic and practicality takes over to help these design “experts-to-be” pick up a pen and get to the wall… to explore, funnel, discuss, test and improve their ability to think out loud and CREATE at the wall …TOGETHER.]

When going into any kind of process with people you do not really know, it is time well spent focusing on creating  a shared idea and finding the path that fits the team. A DESIGN story will help focus a group to make conscious decisions during the design process itself and give direction to the path to be taken by the different experts in the group. Along the way all the intricate detailed work done by the members of the team needs to connect to the overarching AIM of their DESIGN story. The ability to be flexible in your focus (FLEXIBLE FOCUS) will give a team the opportunities to test and fail early. Improving every time.
flexible focus1

But now for the workshop:

The simplest way of getting a group to function like a team is to make them go through some sort of high pressure make-session… forcing them to pick up a pen and draw out their challenge… like MACGYVER used to do drawing a plan in the sand or Doc Brown in back to the future with his “crude”models of how he was going to send marty back to the future. The objective of this workshop was hidden in its practice. By experiencing the value of drawing out thinking and allowing the group to build upon what is made visible, you are creating a shared story!
In the morning the group found common ground sourced from their own likes and dislikes. If you are totally free to chose your own design…what pain do you solve…together? We explored the unique contexts of 8 groups and what their proposed successes will look like for their stakeholders. This created a shared focus that would guide the group in a high pressure design process in the afternoon. By mapping out current and future desired states you frame your own design space…a luxury not to be underestimated for designers… Something that hopefully these groups will have experienced and will use in future projects…

flexible focus

This workshop was made possible in fact by the FLEXIBLE FOCUS of the day. The overarching AIM of the day was to experience the creation of a shared design narrative using visual techniques, which were shared mostly in the final half hour when all the stories started to result in abstract designs. The small tips and troicks can only be shared when you run into real little barriers. This waqs a great way to share some of my experiences in translating thinking into visuals.
The day ended with a 15 minute run through of all the stories AND a little feedback. Courtisy of Pieter-Jan! Check it out:

For more pictures of the process :



Images of Design Thinking

When I started to write about this book, I realize that I have known Rianne for almost 25 years. She started out as a teacher, turned into a client and now is a person of interest and a peer when it comes to handling the dynamic process of Innovation. When she asked me to help her translate the 80+ interviews that took 5+ years to distill into a visual model that would take you into the world of innovators… my answer had to be yes. Not only because I had been interviewed at the time when I was developing JAM visual thinking, but also because of my good friend Guy Hafkamp who passed away in 2013. When reading these interviews it is a treat to recognize your own image but it is even nicer to SEE and read who others are and how they take place in the grand landscape of innovators.
images of DT-parts4.jpg
The process of making the translation to the model that is explained in the book was not easy. The 4 images give you and idea of what innovators do in certain places of change and for different stakeholders.  Of course you are never just one image. Rianne uses these images to create tables of recognition at her sessions. When you sit down at a table where everybody contributes to innovation in the same way the conversation starts up very easy. It is like a warm bath of innovative likemindedness…;) The model helps you to become  aware of the diversity that lies in the innovation process and the position to occupy in this landscape of change.
images of design thinking - rings_1.jpg
Making this model visual not only helps to explain these interviews, but it is a great way to take others along in your innovation practices and how they connect from the VALUE to the FUTURE and PURPOSE to EXPERIENCE.
images of design thinking_1.jpg
The skethces above are not in the book…They give you a glimpse into the process of translation. You can acquire this great work of academic persistence at:
The ladies of Roquefort did an absolutely amazing job of making the whole book a delight to read! When you are an innovator (or think you are ) GET THIS BOOK! It will help you to get a better grip on your contribution to innovation…anywhere…;)