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Breathing

This is a metaphor for teamwork in large design teams. You diverge in small teams and converge back to a large team.

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nicole schadewitz
26 January 2010

Context:
Design teamwork in large teams (from 6 up). Breathing teamwork can occur in any design phase, such as in exploration, concept and implementation phases.

Problem:
How do you generate a variety but also depth of ideas in a large design team?

Forces (Requirements):
In large design teams it is difficult for everyone to speak up and tell their idea or story in detail. You might get a variety of ideas i.e. through brainstorming, but then no in-depth discussion occurs. Either a few people dominate the discussion or small groups form naturally and different topics are discussed in parallel, but there is no strategy how to capture the results of the discussions.

Solution:  
Allow the design team to split up in smaller groups to diverge design thinking in different directions. After a while, the team gathers together to discuss similarities in the idea exploration to converge the ideas to a few good one that repeat and seem to resonate with the team.


Summary

Diverge in small teams - Converge back to large team

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nicole schadewitz
11:13am 26 January 2010


My story:

I attended several interaction design summer schools, one in Croatia. 40 students in 4 teams of 10 learned and worked together for 2 weeks. The teams were large, so the team leader often divided team up in smaller groups to work. The working in small and large teams had a particular pattern. In the large team, we discussed a general direction that we wanted to explore in more depth or the team leader gave us a specific task, i.e. go out observe how locals do this and that.  So we split into smaller teams. Then we came back together and discussed in the large group what we found, noted it down on post-its. Themes or clusters emerged and we were arranged into smaller groups once again to explore these themes in more detail. This way of working continued throughout the design phases of the project, i.e. in exploration, concept development and even when implementing our ideas.

Lesson learned: I discovered a ‘breathing work metaphor’, diverge-converge cycle

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