Design Exercise Game
A design exercise game was presented to explore specific scheduling and task management scenarios in the context of a variety of work, school and personal environments. The objective is to work as a team, try and explore real life scenarios, and most of all, have fun!!
People were divided up into small groups, about 5 per group. An envelop was distributed to each group containing the following:
- Images of users
- A brief profile on each person and description of the event that's bringing them together.
Each team was given a folder with five profiles and told the following: These are the people you are thinking for. Look at each of the pictures and descriptions, and imagine people you know or have known who resemble these people. They could be friends, relatives, and coworkers.
Each of the people in your group are coming together for a 3-day event in San Francisco for the reason described in your task. For the next thirty minutes, describe the process and plan the weekend using the large note pad and colored markers. This exercise is done offline. Please put your computers to sleep and silence your phones. There will be 30 minutes for this exercise and about 6 minutes for each group to present.
Two members of the design group (Mimi & myself) went around to each group to observe and help out when needed.
To present a plan which accommodates ideally ALL the people in your envelop, for all the activities on your list.
Issues to Consider for the Design of the Game:
There was definitely some confusion in the beginning as there wasn't a enough information given to some of the groups. The relationships also caused people to loose focus on the task at hand.
Though once the ideas started to roll, people were brainstorming through some very interesting things one would need to think about when coordinating a three day event. I was especially impressed how everyone was involved and participated in the exercise.
The Results of What We Learned
Each group had made some similar assumptions in the scenario be tasked with the organization of the event. Whereas other items differ based on the scenario presented before them.
Where things were similar:
- Asking the basic who, what, where and when questions to organize an event. Picking a theme also helped the groups to start thinking about on the location and date of the event.
- Selecting one or two persons from the collective groups to organize the event.
- Individual needs
- Considering people's individual needs such as dietary, hobbies, and political agenda may direct the plans for the event.
Where things differ:
- Multi-threaded task and information management
- Every group had a number of tasks (oftentimes information gathering tasks) going on in parallel. The trick however was making sure that all of these threads resolved themselves in the right order so that decisions can be made and issues resolved.
- Group 1-Family Reunion had to think about budget as they may need figure out cost sharing in comparison to Group 3-Management Off-Site it was assumed the company would be paying for everything.
- Group 4-Geekfest-BAR camp the people in the scenarios are a tight knit community and it was common these people would send e-mails to communicate in comparison to Group 4Planning a Medical Conference, doctor's are not likely to be sitting at a computer everyday and receiving e-mails, so there may need to find other devices to create invitations for an event.
- Flexibility & "Buy In"
- Group 1-Family Reunion struggled with the flexibility on the dates & buy in from each family member, other groups did not necessarily need to have buy in from every member of the group. Though there was some thought behind individual needs.
This was just an design exercise was not to claim any specific type of users for Chandler, Cosmo, or Scooby. It is however generating thoughts for people to think about all the variables when planning an event for different types of people. And the dilemmas are real for many people and may be brought up again when thinking through some work flow problems for the products Chandler, Cosmo, and Scooby.
Some of these groups may be revisited again for future explorations of case studies in product design. We will taking 2 of these scenarios and exploring them further in our Thursday Design Session on Scheduling and Invitation workflows.
Here are the notes from each group:
Group 1Planning a Family Reunion
Issue: organizing needs a lot of iterations among the members of the group and few have regular access to email or even phone
3 main sub groups to call: Jenny, Anne and Joseph. Organize a conf call? Would be ideal.
Questions to get answers to:
- When? Prefered dates, possible dates, impossible dates. Take into account school schedule (3 days need to fit into the kids school schedule so that limits the options)
- What? Create a list of activities and iterate through the different people using phone and email as much as possible
- How much? (budget) Will people share all cost, some of it? What the overall budget for the event? Will have an impact on activities.
- Gather Intel:
- Previous reunions: things that work, things that didn't work
- Interpersonal dynamics and family relationship, family diplomatie
- Dietary and Health needs: some people are senior citizen and have requirements limiting their activities
Someone in the group (likely Anne) will have to serve as a hub / coordinator and iterate with people several time before a consensus can emerge
Challenges in organizing the event
- info gathering, limited access to means of communication
- phone: easy but 1:1, message tag game, conf call a possibility?
- email: asynchronous but low use in this group
- web? bulletin board would be ideal but can this group use it? unlikely.
- get buy-in: depends on family dynamics and history
- events selection
- time selection
- delegation: try to get different people organize different activities or take ownership of part of each activities
- constraint of time and money
Exercise for one particular day: Picnic at Dolores Park
- Food: BBQ (in park), meat
- Games: frisbee, soccer
- Task delegation:
- who brings what?
- who does what? (cooking, cleaning)
- Cost sharing
- Reserve facility ($$, see cost sharing and delegation)
- Plan a rain date activity (plan B)
Group 2Planning a Geekfest: BAR camp
- read the given instructions and the went thru each bio
- during the bio reads we created a page listing different attributes of the people and noted conflicts or sticking points
- we then went thru the task items one at a time
- we bounced a couple of ideas around based on the backgrounds and interests of the organizers and settled on podcasting
- we thru out some theme names but quickly picked "Radio 2.0"
When is it happening
- this one we may have missed because we focused on the how long and we didn't get into any detail of exactly
How long is the marathon?
- we saw from the outline paragraph that it was going to be a weekend so we decided on Friday evening thru Sunday afternoon
- once we learned what a BAR camp was and how it is, on purpose, not
an invitation event we realized that we would need to worry about getting the word out
- for this we discussed what sort of community each person would already be a part of and how that the community would also be the people who would want to attend so if each organizer sends information to their respective communities then the invitation list would self-select
How do we figure out who presents, on what topics, at which times?
- because it is a BAR camp format everone will present
- the at which times answer was reached when we discussed out other events do scheduliing and we decided to follow how lighting talks are scheduled
- the on what topics answer came by us discussing the different podcasting areas of interest, settling on the fact that we really should limit it to a few tracks and then deciding on some appropriately themed tracks
What resources do we need?
- this one we answered by realizing that one of the primaries is already a rich dude and that he wouldn't mind hosting the event
- because it is a BAR camp format, other resource decisions were also answered because each person would be bringing any necessary hardware to do their presentation
What other activities should we have?
- given the activities of some of the primaries (poker, musicians and social) we quickly decided on poker and karaoke as being the activities that happened along with the band playing
What about food and transportation?
- given the BAR camp format, transportation would be handled by each participant and we decided that with the number of food constraints that something buffet style would work. Pizza and burritos (aka hoagies
fit the requirements along with tubs of ice stocked with a variety of drink options. This also fit the social aspect of the task.
Group 3Planning a Management Off Site
Goal: brainstorming about how to become a BIG staffing company
- improve social relationships (bonding)
- outdoors (bees?)
- warm weather? October!
- Is Laura planning on firing 1/2 the team? Is that consistent with the high level objectives?
- This group needs a trust building exercise
Lawrence & Liz tell Laura in a staff meeting that they are concerned about meeting 2006 goals. The economy is getting better and it is hurting the business.
Laura tells Bruce about the offsite
Bruce organizes the offsite, Laura isn't a detail person and she puts a lot of trust in Bruce. Bruce and Laura communicate via office email system. Bruce uses the phone to do most of the planning with outside companies, maybe getting a little help with professional offsite planning company. Bruce uses office email system to get info from others (activity preferences, food preferences, etc.)
Bruce is not attending (going on a mountain bike trip instead).
- brainstorm about business strategy
- nature offsite (build on common interests for bonding, outdoors and exercise)
- janine has volunteered to cook one meal
- wine tasting, maybe a wine train outing
- mostly meals out but coordinating this is difficult with macrobiotic constraint
When: October (good weather and no bees)
Where: Napa, some resort that caters to groups doing offsites
Food: Meals out except for one shared meal, restaurants organized by Bruce.
Transportation: Limo (Laura is splurging)
small staffing agency, management offsite
Liz (Head of HR)
Lawrence (Head of recruitment)
Janine (Head of training)
Group 4Planning a Medical Conference
We were to plan a medical conference on behalf of a doctor's clinic - 'Biotechnology for Better Bladder Control." The players in this game are: Drs. Jamie Pane, Rame Gallston, P. Sloe; Nurse Nancy and Norah Space. Drs. Pane and Sloe are golf buddies who, during a game of golf thought that hosting a medical conference on bladder control would be a good thing to do. Since Dr. Sloe works for Genentech, he thought that perhaps it would be a better idea if the idea came from the academy/hospital rather than from industry. So Dr. Pane agreed to speak with Dr. Gallston, her colleague and Dr. Sloe's partner, about the idea. Drs. Pane and Gallston agreed that this would be a good idea, so Dr. Pane offered to take the lead in starting the preparations. Dr. Pane's planner and assistant is Nurse Nancy, who is the person who will be doing a large part of the planning and logistics around this conference. The initial tasks involved in planning this conference are:
The initial tasks involved in planning this conference are:
- Pick a theme
- Research Locations, Dates, Venues
- Decide who should speak/present at the conference; find a keynote speaker
- Solicit papers/proposals for presentation topics
- Figure out who would be the target audience (i.e., who to invite as attendees) and how large the initial conference should be
- Find out whether there are competing/complementary conferences and when/where they are scheduled
- Decide on a budget (which will dictate whether they will need to charge a registration/administrative fee)
- Find Sponsors
- Publicize the conference
With this list, Nurse Nancy starts to work with Norah Space to see about finding space at the university to host the conference. Norah will be Nancy's primary contact for facilities logistics. Norah sends to Nancy via email a list of potential dates and locations for various campus sites for hosting the conference. With this information, Nancy and Dr. Pane talk about the next set of things they will need to do.
- Design the registration form
- Drs. Pane and Gallston begin to call their colleagues at other universities and hospitals/research facilities to invite to attend/speak/endorse their conference.
- Drs. Pand and Gallston work their relationships with biotechnology companies, medical journals (Urology Today, etc.), pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, etc. to solicit sponsors for the conference.
- Nurse Nancy and Norah Space work together (mostly via email and telephone calls) to begin logistics planning. This includes:
- Securing a block of rooms at a local hotel to house attendees
- Securing transportation from the the hotels to/from the conference site located on campus
- Putting together a proposed menu for meals
- Planning some outside activities for the attendees (attending a Stanford basketball game, an outing to the Computer Science Museum in Silicon Valley, a tour of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Complex, a tour of the NASA Ames Research Center, etc.) and the logistic around these activities (transportation, meals, tours, souvenir gifts)
- Drs. Gallston and Pane work with a graphic design firm to design a flyer for the conference
- Nurse Nancy sends the flyers out to various medical schools, hospitals, research organizations, and companies working on urology related technology to publicize the conference.