Great post Rémi!
I have few questions:
1) “After carefully analyzing what was wrong with our previous format”: How did you do that? Did the result come from the whole team, or did you ask a specific “external” person to assess your previous design critiques?
2) The whole process seems to be driven by the overall goal of designing “things that rock”. I think that it’s great to question our habits like that and to think about the actual reason why we do design critiques. But “things that rock” (or just “good design”), might be a bit vague sometimes. How do you assess “good design” at BlaBlaCar? Is it a completely subjective feedback, or is it based on more actionable items? (design principles for instance)
3) “No preparation needed”: I agree that too much preparation will add some distraction, some noise or even some perilous artificial dimensions to the work in the worst cases. But I also think that the risk with “no preparation at all” is to waste some precious time and attention on irrelevant details (defining the scope of the feedback… sometimes you don’t want to reconsider the whole strategic approach for instance and you’re just interested in specific questions that need to be prepared) or on very practical questions (finding a screen in all the different pages / artboards / folders in a Sketch file, trying to recall the actual rationale behind a decision,…). Don’t you think that some kind of preparation is still useful? Something like “Yes to preparation, no to decoration”? :D
4) “If you need more time, it’s probably because you haven’t decided what is important and what is not.”: I just wanted to say that this is amazing :) I also think that this is related to the previous point (you need to be prepared in a certain way, because you need at least to know what you’re expecting from this specific critique).
5) Have you considered inviting people that are not in the product team in your design critiques?
Thanks for sharing your design practice at BlaBlaCar, it’s always really interesting :)