Create by designing together

Working directly with other people to design or build something – co-creation – can produce significantly more productive results when creating a product than talking only.

Do it now
At the next meeting of your team, set a single goal for everyone to accomplish together. Post big sheets of paper on the wall and give each person a marker to contribute. Ask everyone to express his or her thoughts on the goal in the form of writing/drawing on the wall.

When talking, people may address the same topic but talk about it so that they further their own goals instead of the group’s goals. To align the group, set a goal that the product must produce and instruct them to work together to create a product that achieves that goal. The group can work on building the actual product, or design it on paper or electronically, though to Radiate information it’s often best to start with big sheets of paper or a whiteboard. By changing the style of work from discussion to creation the individual agendas become secondary to the shared agenda of designing the product.

Here’s a story: A programmer and a marketer were in a meeting talking about creating a new watch for runners. “If we use satellite positioning, we can show runners where they are at any time,” said the programmer, “it’s a killer technology.”

“So what?” replied the marketer, “it’s a novelty that will get old. Our research shows they want a watch that will make their daily run less monotonous. Maybe it plays a different melody at each 100 meter mark.”

“That’s definitely not a novelty,” joked the programmer. “We can’t charge more money for that, but we could if we included satellite positioning.”

Pulling out a big sheet of paper, they write down the goal: A watch that makes daily running less monotonous and can sell for $150. They brainstormed different ways of making running more fun, of using the available technology, and of which product features consumers pay a premium. Every suggestion had to make sense within those constraints. Eventually they designed a satellite positioning watch that plotted a different route for each run through the runner’s neighborhood.