NZTE Better by Design

We love a brainstorm / workshop / idea mining session here at Terabyte. So when Anne and I had the chance to attend the recent Design Thinking Workshop hosted by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, we jumped at the chance ...

We’re pro brainstormers and collaborators at Terabyte, but you can always do a good thing better. We were part of a group of “team members” brought in to a learning environment by NZTE to work with participants in one of their longer running courses. We were grouped with pairs of learners from other organisations, and Anne and I met our facilitators and educators – Kerry and Andrew.

After some ice breaking, the post it notes came out (that’s when the real thinking happens) and our challenge was set:

“how can people understand what their neighbours really care about?”

We were encouraged to add any and all ideas to a board, on post it notes, along with the original question. Ideas sparked other ideas, and our schemes ranged from progressive dinners to geo-targeted alternate reality apps… go hard or go home, right?

Our favourite ideas were nominated, and after further discussion we settled on our concept. Sign posts outside houses on a street with “badges” to represent the interests or values of the people who lived in that home. The idea being that seeing common interests, or even different ones, could spark up conversations and create connections between neighbours.

And that was enough for a prototype! Anne and I challenged our facilitators by getting crafty with pink cupcake cases and straws in order to model a small street with “sign posts”.

Once some “houses” were discernible, we tested. Our tester was asked to choose a house to live in and asked why. He had great feedback and ideas which pushed our concept further and helped us to see where we could next refine it.

Main take-away points:

  • Post-it notes still rock. They helped us arrange our ideas physically into groups, to better understand and process them;
  • Standing up to brainstorm and moving around gets ideas flowing;
  • The first idea could be the best, but it's good to get it all out to consider at the start;
  • Prototype early, get feedback, iterate. It saves polishing an idea that might not fly. A prototype is whatever you can create to get the idea across - even cardboard and straws!!

Thanks for the opportunity, NZTE - we’ve already used some of our outtakes from this experience at Terabyte. It’s fast, it’s easy and it works!

Better by Design is a programme run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, designed to help companies use design to become more innovative, efficient and internationally competitive while fostering a more dynamic and purposeful culture.