My First Design Studio with Five Engineers and a Product Manager

Rebecca Machamer
Dec 1, 2015 · 5 min read

All of us that make and work on products for a living have sat through a kickoff meeting that had a large deck full of the business goals, KPI’s, assumptions, and everything else we could possibly need to know to start the project.

While these decks are super valuable and important, they aren’t very good at getting the team engaged. We are all exposed to so much information every day and we needed something more to get the team motivated and the creative juices flowing.

Image Source: “Building the Right Thing – Define Your Product with a Kickoff & RDP Session” by Brittany Hunter

I saw this picture after reading “The secrets to successful kickoff meetings” by Jerry Cao on The Next Web and got super excited. Post-it notes, markers, and stickers everywhere grabbed my attention and I instantly wanted to start making something. I had to test out this “Design Studio” concept with the team. We were about to kick off a BIG project here at TrackMaven so this was a perfect time more than any.

Our Design Studio Itinerary

  1. Review what we’ve learned so far from customer interviews
  2. White boarding session to get warmed up
  3. Everyone was given a piece of paper with 8 boxes on it to draw as many ideas as they could in 10 minutes
  4. I split everyone up into groups and had them combine their ideas and draw a new concept
  5. We all presented and discussed all of the concepts

The goal was to leave the room at the end of the studio with as many ideas as possible.

I invited everyone on the project team and also provided snacks to spur up even more excitement. I reminded everyone a few times before the meeting that no cell phones or laptops were allowed. Everyone complied and it really helped everyone stay focused. I meant to play music too and completely forgot. I will definitely do that at the next one because it is highly recommended.

What happened

Engineers will draw their ideas

Presenting each of our individual sketches.

So many ideas

I made it clear that if you have an idea say it or write it down during the exercises. No idea during a design studio is a bad idea. Establishing a comfortable environment where everyone feels safe expressing their ideas is where innovation happens. One idea sparked other ideas which turned into an awesome concept.

Everyone felt heard

What I learned

Just say no to slides

Be lenient on the time for exercises

Provide more markers

Wade and Salar discussing their concept.

It’s now part of our process

Next time I plan on expanding the brains past the project group and inviting people from other departments. Imagine the ideas!

I encourage you to try these out with your team. I can’t wait to try some different exercises at the next one!

Ruff Concepts

Thoughts from the TrackMaven Design team

Thanks to Laura McGuigan

Rebecca Machamer

Written by

San Francisco newb, dog lover, craft beer taster and designer of things. Lead Product Designer at TrackMaven.

Ruff Concepts

Thoughts from the TrackMaven Design team

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