In nearly all our projects at Domain7 we plan for one key moment where all team members—from our side and our partners’—come together for a collaborative design workshop.
We set aside an afternoon or a morning, bring any insights and research we have gathered, and emerge with the foundational layout ideas that will become part of the final, built product.
Many organizations are still taught to wait for the solo sprint of a designer or coder working independently to create a solution to vet. We find the “Mad Men” approach creates two major problems:
- The Persuasion Problem: Once a creator has conceived of an idea, they must pitch it to the client. No matter how good the concept is, this automatically creates an oppositional “us vs. them” dynamic, where ideas are being critiqued, instead of contributed to.
- The Blind Spot Problem: Clients and partners have plenty of industry and community knowledge to contribute, but they often aren’t given a structured opportunity to participate. By deeply involving them in the conceptual phase, their knowledge is baked in.
The solution to both the persuasion problem and the blind spot problem is involvement. The Co-Design Workshop hits this need head-on, and improves the product design process in two unexpected ways: speed and quality.
- The workshop is fast-paced. Ground is covered very, very quickly in these workshops, often shaving off weeks of conceptual “back-and-forthing.”
- And it’s boundary-pushing. A well-facilitated workshop can generate abundant and diverse ideas beyond what one individual can produce.
Facilitating a workshop like this is a skill that can be taught and grown like any other. The biggest barrier is the initial mindset switch from “designer” to “facilitator.” You are a facilitator, and this is a collaborative process. Once you embrace that, what you choose to design changes.
Consider this guide a starter kit.Try it out, see how it goes for you. As you gain confidence and experience—like any other skill—iterate on it. Make the method your own. Develop your own style. Adapt the agenda to what suits the project, the team, the required output. Thousands upon thousands of possible approaches exist. Our hope is that this unlocks your confidence and ability to solve problems the collaborative way. Please let me know how it goes for you.