Rapid Strategic and Tactical Ideation Baked In

Problem: moving groups towards successful completion of project milestones is often hindered because the solutions are developed independent of the team.

Solution: stand up, grab a dry board marker and draw. Documentation started. Team approval secured.

Digital agencies and design shops produce a lot of smart documents for their clients. They spend time in meetings discussing the strategy and high-level execution requirements. Once the tasks are assigned, we retreat to our separate corners; develop some documentation from the POV of our specialty; and  return to the conference room looking to get confirmation that our interpretation was correct.

If not correct?… sorry… keep evolving or even start back at square one. The idea is to keep refining as we get group buy-in, often wasting everyone’s time with small incremental movement towards a solution.

A faster path is to use the first or second meeting to begin concrete ideation using white board markers to diagram the strategy and architecture. When you’ve got people in a room, use them! Harness the collective knowledge to develop the screens right there! Take a stab, defend a position… but stay flexible and fluid in order to generate ideas and layouts from the whole team.

White board sketches provide clarity and consensus.
White board sketches provide clarity and concensus.

In some recent projects, we relied on our collective wisdom to short circuit the normal process. It’s as if we jumped from square two to square eight without a penalty. At first, the idea of throwing about your ideas without time to consider the implications or confirm your instincts is scary. We all want to be right- or at least smart -when we put ourselves in front of the team.

Ideation isn't meant to be pretty, but expressive as we move towards specificity.
Ideation isn't meant to be pretty, but expressive as we move towards specificity.

If the goal is to find the best ideas, then starting with a sketch gets all them on the board and, if orchestrated properly, allows for the entire team to voice their opinion up front, not later in the process.

Sketch for a flash video editor.
Sketch for a flash video editor.

These shots show diagrams of ideation sessions that went directly to wireframes. The process looked something like- (a) generalize; (b) specify with drawings; (c) photograph; (d) make it look pretty. When the first round of wireframes were presented, it confirmed what everyone had already agreed to. The process was sped up ten-fold without loss of knowledge or insufficient time to marinate.

Home Page Sketch
Home Page Sketch
Landing Page Sketch
Landing Page Sketch
Resulting Landing Page Wireframe
Resulting Wireframe

A job well done = fast, effective and delivered with the collective genius baked in…

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