Monthly Archives: February 2016

Culture Coding Ideas

This week we used Ari-Pekka’s idea of ‘culture coding‘ as a short workshop on how easy it is to generate more creative ideas from nothing.

culture coding steps on StattysThis worked well to make the students think more about what the essence of their idea was, and how it might be transformed, or extended with some basic changes. It was also interesting to see how it made them drop the ‘features’, or ‘how’ of the idea and get at the ‘why’ of the ideas. For example, one idea about open air cafes using recent art school graduates resolved down to ‘picnic baskets with art projects’ as a simple proof of concept. The last stage of the idea came from using┬ásome of Rory’s Story Cubes to generate a variety of options that would improve their ideas.

These created more options to develop more resilient ideas for the student teams.

Using Story Cubes to generate ideas

The teams left knowing where to go next and what would need to be done so that they would be prepared to meet stakeholders next week.


Mapping experiences

Today was all about introducing the students to experience mapping. After a short talk from Jon about why this is important to consider in the development of their projects we sent them out into the city. The students were in new teams for this exercise (count off up to four; one, two, three, what? You’re four… One, two… ) One person was the recorder, another the ‘subject’ and old the third could be the observer, or something else. Their mission was to go buy biscuits or something similar from Marks and Spencer’s, Poundland, a shop in George Street, and a chain coffee shop. They had 30 minutes for their mission, and upon return they drew out a diagram of their experience.

Teams working on their experience maps

The teams had a number of different experiences. The M & S team were questioned by the security person when observed photographing the shop, but realised after initial anger, that he was doing what he should do when an obvious group does something different: students stand out when others are middle-aged, and dressed differently. The Poundland team found a smelly, dirty shop eith unhelpful staff and odd customers, while the team that went to Cafe Nero realised they were part if the advertising as they sat in armchairs in the window showing the cosy, inviting atmosphere the the wet, grey city. The team that went to George Street found a dirty, rundown street with closed shops, and strange signs: ‘we don’t give change’, didn’t men’s they needed exact change for their purchases, but rather that you had to buy something to get change for parking or whatever. They also found people leaving pubs, and persistent street traders selling broadband on their route. The full Aberdeen experience in 30 minutes on a Wednesday morning, in other words.

Now the teams need to go back to their project teams and apply their learning of this approach to see how it will apply to what they want to develop. Where appropriate they can apply this to the current situation, as well as to see how they can help improve different perceptions of what might be possible with their ideas.

Unpacking ideas

Today the rough starting point ideas from last week were explored some more before being reduced to ‘how might we …’ challenge statements by the four teams. What started as four ideas became more focused and ready for more study before next week.

We lost a student, and gained three who couldn’t make it last week so we ended with about eighteen in total today. We started with introductions and some overview of where we are now and what the teams had looked at last week so that anyone who wasn’t on a team had some idea of what was on offer and others could change teams if they wished.

To illustrate the need to consider iterations and reflection of approaches with short feedback loops, we played the ball point game. This was a fun energiser, as well as an interesting exercise. The score of the team steadily rose from 0 in the first round to 35 in the final round against an estimate of 40. It was interesting to see that the team didn’t make any big changes but steadily modified the initial approach with local optimisations. While the first estimate was a guess by one person, all of the others were based upon previ0us rounds and assumptions about how well a suggested improvement would work. Only in the second round where they estimated three, but successfully completed seven, did they exceed their estimate.

Afterwards we had the students using the ‘unpacking the moon’ worksheets to help them better understand the different ways in which their ideas could be approached and from direct connections to more abstract concepts.

unpacking the moon exercise

As you can see the example has the moon in the centre with ever-widening circles around it in much the way that a stakeholder map moves ever further from those directly concerned with the key idea.

By the end of the session all of the teams went away with a clearer idea of how wide they could scope their idea and had enough variety for them to find several ideas to further explore in the coming week.