Bluesky Ideation

On a Saturday evening I invited a group of my own acquaintances who mostly didn’t know each other to a brainstorming session. I had spoken with and explained the assignment to them all individually beforehand both over text and in person. I felt the group did a great job coming up with detailed and complex ideas, but had a much lower quantity of ideas than I expected. I had assumed that since we all had some kind of creative or artistic background that we might have a problem of having too similar of ideas, and that they would produce many ideas, but I was proven wrong on both points. There were trends in ideas that made it clear someone’s background, and sometimes words or concepts were lost on others, which might have had to do with our different strengths and knowledge bases.

How might we - How might we organize things people want to look at and also keep private in a convenient way that fits in a space next to the bed?
After really thinking about my interviews, some field research, and just chatting with a variety of people, it seems like I was asking them questions about their next to the bed storage, but assumed everyone had deviant lifestyles to hide or organize. People were actually just having issues with their nightstand in general, so I decided to focus in on that, or anything within arms’ reach from the bed. This is how I came to my How Might We statement.

30+ ideas - I spent a couple days gathering words and idea bubbles and loose forms in the margins of my notebooks. After I had 15 ideas I was happy with, I sat down to draw them out. When I started drawing, I ended up hating most of what I made. But as I tried to tweak or take apart ideas, I kept coming up with new ones. I stopped at about 25. Later when I tried to finish with 5 more, I put some music on and laid down with my sketchbook in front of an open window with a pillow. I started doodling a little and closing my eyes, and relaxing a bit helped me get to 10 more for 35. My last ideas where definitely my best in terms of detail and utility.

New Warm Up 
There were a lot of small elements that I liked about many of the warm-up games we did in class, my favorites being Tigers and Bears and word associations. I also liked the idea of the Story game, but thought it could be improved on. So I came up with a game I call If Animals Did Things. One person starts off by saying “If [Animal] did [something that animal doesn’t usually do]...” and people go around in a circle making up a consequence of that. It doesn’t have to make sense or be a continuation of the previously said consequence. An example from the group was “If fish wore one tap shoe…” “...beaches would be littered with shoes” “...snorkeling would be incredibly loud” “ would mate by finding a ‘lefty’ or ‘righty’ fish” “ would learn to dance with each other and do it spontaneously.” 
My original rule was that the consequences would go around until someone couldn’t think of one, and then they would make up a new Animal+Attribute, but there wasn’t anything stopping anyone from coming up with a new consequence since it could be anything. We amended that rule on the fly to be-- going around the full group once and then the person next in the circle from the start comes up with a new Animal+Attribute. It went much smoother that way, but people took more time thinking about what they were going to say.

I called and reserved the meeting room at the Dunn Bros on Hennepin and 25th in Minneapolis at 6:30pm on Saturday night.

The Group Cj is 23, a freelance Illustrator and bus driver. She went to school for animation 2 years ago and lives in St Louis Park with her 2 cats. Paul is 25, works at the Apple Store and is going to McNally Smith for Composition and Vocal Performance and lives in St Louis Park. Lin is 20, attends the UofM for Architecture and ecology, has 2 jobs on campus and lives in Minneapolis. Matteo is 31 works as a welder and lives in St Paul. Lin and Matteo know each other.

Since everyone was just meeting each other and hadn’t had much if any experience with improv games, I wanted to start with the Word Association game to help get people comfortable with looking at each other and speaking out as a group. Most of the group fell into more of an introverted personality and I didn’t want to put anyone in the spot for too long right off the bat. It was also a good way to help me judge where people were in terms of being comfortable and how I did explaining things to them. We played for about 3 minutes and it went fairly well. After that we played the Disassociation game for 3 minutes, and that went much better than I expected. They were all much faster than the groups I was in for this game in class, just in speed of words and ability to keep the flow going, in my opinion. After that everyone seemed really alert and pretty comfortable, so I told them the rules of the game I made up and we played that for about 5-6 minutes. Although it moved slower than I thought (I told the group to try to move as quick as possible, like with word associations) it helped lighten the mood up really well and helped everyone feel comfortable with each other and speaking in the group.

Idea generation
 This did not go nearly as well as I thought. I spent about 5 minutes explaining everything to the group and tried to be as clear as I could with things like labeling, drawing, making quantity count, and only giving positive feedback. The group was great about sticking to the How Might We prompt I gave them, and exploring the concept a little, as well as keeping a good balance between silly and practical. It went a lot slower than all of our class groups did, though. They really liked to talk about each idea, give some light criticism, and I kept having to remind them to name the ideas. We had to pause a couple times for bathroom breaks, but overall they did really well with coming up with detailed and well-thought ideas. 
After the first 10 minutes things started to slow down a bit and there was a lull, so I introduced a list of 75 random words and explained how they could use word association to help generate ideas. Cj found this the most helpful, and I think a few extra ideas came out of it, but I think it would have been more effective if I could have given them a longer explanation or a practice round doing it with a different topic.
After another 5 minutes, I brought out dark chocolate, almonds, strawberries, and some small candies. This was well received, but I didn’t notice any particular improvement with idea generation. When we ate chocolate in class, I personally felt a little effect (whether placebo or not) so I was expecting an observable effect. The last 10 minutes were rough in terms of idea generation; I put up a new list of 75 words, but we kept breaking down and getting stuck on jokes or revisiting ideas they thought were funny. We got along too well as people for this to feel really productive. I am not very good at discipline or confrontation of any kind, so I should have done better at keeping on task, but reflecting on that I don’t know how I would have gone about doing that.

/////Results In 25 minutes 5 people came up with 51 ideas, for a IPP/M of .41/////

category names and stickers
I had 3 colors of dot stickers so I utilized each one with voting categories of Personal Favorite, Most Creative, and Most Likely to See for Sale at a Store(utility). They had 10 votes for each category, but I only required them to use 5 minimum. I strongly encouraged them to vote multiple times if they felt strongly about an idea. They voted very carefully taking more than 5 minutes to do so. 
After voting was concluded I set out 5 symbols as idea categories and explained that they would silently arrange the ideas into categories all together and to step back when they felt they were finished, THEN we would name the categories. Astonishingly, they categorized things by silently agreed on characteristics of the symbols. So when we had to label the categories they all very quickly agreed on the words “Wholesome” “Special/Unique” “Stable/Pointy” “Scary” “Strong/Square shape” for the categories under {Circle, star, triangle, exclamation, and square, respectively}
I was extremely amused and impressed at how quickly and without any words they decided on the groupings based on “Physical appearance/feeling” as opposed to utility. I thought I had explained the process very clearly and they seemed to understand perfectly, even though they came out with a completely different system for categorizing.

Re-sketch 10 ideas 
After sorting through the votes and ideas from the session, I pulled 4 ideas that went really well and/or were similar to ones I had on my own. The Fabric hammock, the egg storage, the pillow storage, the the fold-down surface. The other six were from my own idea generation, and were from my first and last group of 5 ideas. The pea-pod storage was actually my very first idea that I had from just sitting down and coming up with loose concepts.

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