See my images at Zazzle

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Where There are Two or More...

I believe in team. I have my own spiritual reasons why this works and I have seen it in action.

I had an incredible experience this morning. I was part of a presentation to two MBA classes taught by Fred Collopy. Fred is the Professor and Chair of Information Systems and a Professor of Cognitive Science at the Weatherhead School of Management. The program he delivers is entitled: Managing as Design and explores the design process as a foundation for new ways of thinking, teaming and delivering solutions in business.

I was teamed with Peter Zale, a colleague of mine from a "previous employer" when I was facilitating New Product Development Sessions for early stage product development. Peter is a marketing professional and cartoonist. He has illustrated and authored a comic called "Helen", about a woman professional who graduated from MIT at age fifteen. She is young, attractive and clever. Her area of expertise is technology and he has woven a storyline that has gained the attention of the New York Times. Click here to see Helen.

The other side of Peter (which would make him three sided, though he appears normal) is his work as part of his MBA program where his team won the award for developing a product picked up by a notable design firm. A version of the product will be going to market in early 2009. Our objective was to provide an experience for the class using the tools, and explaining the process and principles that support product design.

In his presentation, Peter focused on:

  • Sketching, visualization and ideation
  • Iteration
  • Project and team management

Peter used previously sketched designs in PowerPoint and I with graphic facilitation skills captured his learnings. Having never done this before in tandem, but both being familiar with the creative process and product design, it was very cool ( I didn't want to say serendipitous, but it was that too!). Some principles he brought out in his presentation were:
  • Start with a raw sketch as a neutral field for collaboration
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate
  • When working on a design team (or any team), use open language to encourage continuous contribution through iterations ("and", "I like that AND let me add another element")
  • Don't be afraid to break it and learn from the experience
  • Self impose certain constraints on your design to promote creative tension
  • It takes confidence and humility - knowing you add value and knowing that others do too
Afterward Peter and I talked about doing more of this as our host Fred got feedback that it was the best class they have had. Thanks to Fred for the opportunity and for moderating our presentation.

If you are interested in having a presentation on product design and its principles in your organization, please let me know at

1 comment:

Dave said...

Congratulations, that sounds like a great session!

I guess it's that old cliche about "the sum being greater than the parts". Especially when one of the parts has three sides!