My Experiences Doing Remote Crazy8

Distance is not an excuse to get creative!

We, UX people must have been familiar with the Crazy8 method. This method is pretty effective to generate a number of solution ideas in a short amount of time. It is also part of the infamous Design Sprint process.

For those who are not familiar with this method, you can check this definition from the withgoogle site:

Crazy 8’s is [the] core Design Sprint method. It is a fast sketching exercise that challenges people to sketch eight distinct ideas in eight minutes. The goal is to push beyond your first idea, frequently the least innovative, and to generate a wide variety of solutions to your challenge.
Some team members without a design background may find this method intimidating at first, so it is helpful to reassure everyone that these are rough sketches. They do not need to be perfect or beautiful — sketches just need to communicate the idea. If necessary, you could even hold a quick “how to sketch” tutorial session before starting this exercise.

https://designsprintkit.withgoogle.com/methodology/phase3-sketch/crazy-eights

https://designsprintkit.withgoogle.com/assets/img/methods-3-full-crazy-8s.jpg

Nowadays, remote working becomes more and more acknowledged especially by the tech-related industries. More stakeholders are now aware and embrace the fact that working together as a team doesn’t have to mean ‘at the same building’ anymore.

I am not saying that all kind of job can be done remotely, but for some area such as Digital Design and Software Development, it is very possible.

With this remote culture, it is very possible to do remote collaboration and remote Crazy8 workshop. With the same steps and rules with the offline mode, we can generate solution ideas as good as when we were doing it on location.

Ok, let’s get it on!


#1 Setup the Tool

  1. Computer or Laptop.
  2. Video Call Service that provides screen sharing, such as Skype, Hangout, Zoom etc.
  3. Timer. You can just google it.
  4. Real-time online whiteboard. You can use free services such as InVision Freehand or Draw.io, or more professional tools such as realtimeboard.com, Mural.co, Stormboard etc.
  5. Stable Internet Connection.

#2 Workshop Steps

  1. Re-frame the problem and the task background. This is important if you haven’t decided the main problem and the angle of it, please go back to the previous steps (…of the design sprint or your research part from your design process).
  2. Keep your visual references on sight. Before you start, make it sure it’s visible inside your computer screen.
  3. The Crazy8. The main idea of this method is to Work Alone Together, meaning we embrace personal space to optimise each person’s ideas. So each of the participants needs to work on their own workspace first. At this step, each of us creating a free FREEHAND project in InVision App and do the crazy8 in 16 minutes, or 2 minutes per square. We took 2 minutes instead of one, because we need to add toleration time to get used to the tool.
Each participant need to work their 8 sketches on their own file first.

4. When each of us are finished with our eight sketches; Block — copy — and paste all of your sketches on your own board into the Master Board. The Master Board could be one of the three participant’s Freehand file. This is when the participants show the results to the others.

5. Silent voting & comments. As well as the conventional mode, we can also do the silent voting in this remote version. So, instead of having some dot stickers to mark the interesting part of the drawings, we can use a circular shaped drawing with a bright colour as the replacement.

5. Decide the solution. This step is also similar to the offline version. The participant who has been chosen as the decision maker, make the call and sum up what to do next.

6. Final Solution Sketch. As we might know, we can mix the ideas from Crazy8 into the final sketch. To do this, we can merge all the chosen elements in Freehand into the new and final sketch.

For this workshop we were finding a solution for how a Career Consultant survey site would look like. Turned out, the most unique idea is a chat-like interface is the winner.

In some workshops, some participants were not confidence with their design sense, not to mention their hand drawing skill. Remember the participants of this kind of workshop is not only designers. It could be Product Managers, Engineers, Marketing, Sales etc. So, we should consider another tools to support them. In one workshop, we use draw.io that provides pre-defined elements such as basic shapes, text, free images and illustration.

My Crazy8 file using draw.io before I submit it to the Master Board.

#3 Results

It’s quite surprising that the output is pretty much as satisfying as the offline method. We are now pretty confident to do it again next time!


#4 Pros & Cons

I recommend you to take this article with some grain and salt. There are some advantages and risks when you doing this remote collaboration.

ADVANTAGES

  1. Fast & effective. Without having to travel or commute and meeting offline, it quite easy to set up a date for this session. Especially when your team or clients are living in different regions or timezones.
  2. Preparation cost is cheap. Since your computer and internet subscription was already paid for, so you don’t actually spend another dime. Even if you are working in a café or a co-working space, it’s already part of your overall cost.

RISKS

  1. Sudden electricity black-out. Yes, this infrastructure is very very important. If you are using a notebook or laptop, make sure you have your battery fully charged.
  2. Internet connection lost. This is also another important infrastructure. Before you decide to do a Remote Crazy8, make sure your internet connection is stable and fast enough. I recommend having a minimum speed 5 Mbps. (Tether your 4G phone and that’s enough actually. Just make sure you have an active data package).
  3. Language Barrier. This risk only applies if you are working with your team or client with different native languages. So, decide what language are you going to use. In real life, English would be your default choice. On another side, if you have clients who are not using English, your foreign language skills would be your powerful arsenal!
  4. Tools familiarity. This is a bit minor in my opinion. But it slows you down a bit when you try to generate ideas. So, start to get used to the collaboration tool before you start the workshop.

Please don’t be intimidated by the risk list 😜. Even though the risk list seems longer than the advantages, believe me, the result is worth the effort!


Have something to say about this remote collaboration? We would like to know your thoughts!