Our path to collaboration:
We first got hooked on collaboration as we embarked on internal endeavors like 24 Hour Web Project and Factory Week. These cultural institutions allowed us to challenge our traditional roles and ways of working, and resulted in deeper collaboration than what we had experienced in our normal work processes.
Inspired by these projects, we began auditing our entire process for client work. We asked ourselves questions like:
- Can we use these sprinting techniques when client projects need intense bursts of focused work or have a quick timeline?
- Which collaborative and design thinking techniques will help us get to better solutions for our clients?
- What can we do to involve the client in more meaningful ways?
Bringing a collaborative sprint client-side:
We'd already experimented with these things when we welcomed National Benevolent Association (NBA) as a client earlier this year. With their team being dispersed throughout the country, these techniques, which we've come to call our "collaborative toolkit," were just what we needed to launch our discovery and branding project with them. We blocked out time for a two-day design sprint, and hosted their leadership team here in Indianapolis.
With a timer running, we had 20 minutes to flip through as many pages as we could and tear out images, phrases, fonts or colors from the magazines that we felt represented the direction of the new NBA. In the end, we organized our choices into clusters, and explained to the group what compelled us about our choices.
At the end of the exercise, each stakeholder in the project had articulated what they liked, what they didn't like, and why. Similar photography styles, textures, color palettes and other themes emerged, which provided incredibly valuable initial design direction for our team. (Stay tuned for their new brand - it hasn't launched just yet!)
Living out our core value:
Exercises like this have added meaningful interaction, providing more time for us (our team and the clients) to laugh and learn together. In doing so, we get more connected to the work and outcomes.
It's been more than a year since we chose collaboration, along with curiosity and growth, as core values for SmallBox. I have marveled at how, once chosen, we have begun to live out this core value in deeper ways, and expanded our collaborative toolkit beyond what I could have imagined.