Weeknotes 29: Getting design sprint ready

I’m feeling slightly broken – one design sprint down, one to go.

For me, last week was the calm before the storm as I began to collate all the output from the National Gallery workshops in coherent “briefs” for this week’s design sprints. Design sprints are a process to get you from research to tested concept in a very short space of time. They are used by the likes of the BBC, Google etc. They involve bringing the right people into a room for a set amount of time to focus on designing and testing solutions for a particular challenge. In this case, we were looking at digital products and services to support key needs of a segment of the National Gallery visitors. They also tend to be run over 5 days – we’re doing it in three!

My experience is that design sprints are equal measures risky, brilliant and challenging. Challenging – getting a bunch of the right people in a room for a fixed period of time is difficult in a Museum setting – exhibitions continue to be developed, visitors still walk through the door, events are still being run. Risky? Let’s be honest – these things can quickly balloon as more and more people want to be involved. That translates to a lot of time and therefore a lot of money – focusing on the wrong elements of the challenge or having the wrong people in the room means that the whole thing can quickly go south.  Brilliant – if you can manage it, you have a chance to reach that “large/complex organisation” holy grail of cross departmental collaboration, addressing a real problem and finding a solution that gets equal input across the organisation. Plus the test and iterate nature of the process means that you can quickly make a large group of staff focus on real audiences and address assumptions about their needs/use of technology/how much they care about you.

With all this at stake, it’s very important that you are focusing on the right problem and everyone has a clear understanding of the challenge you are trying to address and why. This was my job. I had to pull together a clear and coherent outline of what we know about a particular challenge and both this insights into how and why something is happening. Finally flipping these into a How Might We statement.

Alyson spent some time working on the content strategy for the National Gallery – pulling together the materials and insights from last week’s content workshops. We are testing content during the design sprints too – so Alyson briefed the brilliant writer Neil Bennun who is working with the team to create text for different elements.

Laura spent last week analysing data – which is what happens when you spend the previous three weeks gathering the stuff. Finally, Laura and I spent some time planning the next stages of the Isabella Gardner Museum project. The upshot of which is that Laura and I are going to be heading to Boston at the end of September – let us know if you fancy a coffee/dinner and a chance to pick brains/share stories.

A couple of new apps – the first quite a large update from Google http://www.wired.com/2016/07/googles-new-app-brings-hundreds-museums-phone/

The second has some incredibly powerful image recognition http://smartify.org.uk/

I really enjoyed this article by the writer of London Olympics opening ceremony and thoughts on the point of culture https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jul/15/frank-cottrell-boyce-proms-lecture-what-point-culture-in-brexit-britain

A smart and wry look at digital transformation from the Mady by Many team https://medium.com/the-many/im-having-a-digital-transformation-right-now-88365b78edd1#.ksh2az2e2


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