5 Key Learnings from Hyper Island

Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.
 — George Bernard Shaw
Details in the environment enhances mood and creativity

What is Hyper Island?

Hyper Island is a creative business school which designs learning experiences that empowers individuals and organizations to adapt and lead in a world in constant change.

Program Overview w/ Tash Willcocks and Max Lacrombe

I’m currently a masters student in Digital Experience Design at Hyper Island. There are 40 students between the masters programs Digital Experience Design and Digital Management. The program has six practical group projects led by industry practitioners, and one independent research project. 24 weeks will be spent in School, and 18 weeks in Industry during the Industry Research Project (equivalent to a thesis, and can be done anywhere in the world).

In the first week, our crew of 40 people collaborated and created the core values that we would live by for the next 6 months. We went through a lot of team building exercises and learned a lot of different methodologies that helped me develop a deeper understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and how that would contribute in a team.

It’s been about 4 months since I’ve started Hyper Island, and I’ve learned a lot. To start, I’ll share the 5 key learnings from Hyper Island that I didn’t find through being a self-taught designer.

Pitch Day at LateRooms

1. Team is Everything

Success of the project depends on the team, and for a team to be successful, everyone needs to be on the same page. Before entering teams, we learned how to define our purpose as a team (why our team exists) and how to set up team culture (how to work together to achieve the purpose).

Industry Leaders Cate and Lydia mentoring us through ‘Understanding People’ Module

2. Feedback and Reflection

Learning how to give structured feedback, team and individual reflections are helpful in understanding needs within the team. More awareness in understanding how my own behaviors in the group influence group dynamics in a positive or negative way helps me understand how to support my teammates in the way that they need. Exchanging frequent feedback is key to openness and developing trust within team.

Constantly iterating on the way we work in teams.

3. Check in- & Check-out

Understanding where everyone is at emotionally and mentally before starting teamwork is important. Taking the time to understand where everyone is coming from, and what could be affecting their day gives more clarity to behaviors and what each person needs. Sharing openly with the team fosters trust and transparency. At the end of the day, checking out as a team is a good way to get a pulse on how everyone is feeling. The quick reflection delivers closure as a team. Leave work at work.

Don’t be afraid to change your work environment. Find what works for your team.

4. Speak from the ‘I’

Don’t speak for other people, and assume that they have your same views. Speak to your own experiences by using ‘I’ statements. When broad statements are made, (ex: “Traveling on the bus is the worst.”), it’s rarely acknowledged that it’s an assumption, and taken as a fact rather than the individual’s subjective experience or view. Speaking from the ‘I’ is especially important in conflict to only speak from your experience, and not project feelings and assumptions of what the other person might be thinking or feeling.

How many post-its does a designer need? Answer: All of them. Except purple.

5. Change is Constant

Things move quickly within projects, so be quick to adapt. Instead of saying ‘NO’, try saying ‘Yes! And…’ and build on ideas. There’s a million reasons why something won’t work, but saying ‘yes and’, allows your mind to create open space for possibilities. Don’t fall in love with your ideas, it’s harder to let them go when you do.

Act it out. Explore different ways to deliver an idea.

Hyper Island is a huge sandbox to challenge myself to try new possibilities, observe, reflect, and change. I’m constantly reiterating myself as a person in a safe space. I feel incredibly lucky, to have this amazing opportunity with 40 other people who are in the same mindset and desire for change. I believe that we are on a mission to achieve something larger than ourselves, a greater goal of changing the world, and leaving this place better than we found it.


I’m interested to hear your thoughts. If you wanna talk about Hyper Island, or anything that strikes your interest, feel free to reach out to me via twitter!