Frank Gehry says: “You’ve got to bumble forward into the unknown.” We like his inspiration. We take risks with clients who want to take risks, and bumble forward into the unknown. That is what innovation is about.
We do things in an unusual way, as we believe that unusual breeds unusual. What we do as consultants-designers-facilitators-producers is different from what others do. We bumble forward together with our clients, one step at a time, dealing together with the risk, the ambiguity, the opportunity, and the excitement that are part of the process of innovation. We know that different results are more likely to emerge from a different process.
Our projects are unlikely to last less than four months, and sometimes keep us together for years – bumbling, and bumbling, and bumbling together, through several waves of change, innovation, and learning.
We bumble forward in a very disciplined and organized way.
We are very serious about the process in which we engage.
Our process is about co-design.
It is about focus.
It is about emergence.
And it is about choices.
It unfolds in this way:
• Defining the Context > over a period of three to twelve weeks, we work with a client team to define the boundaries of the project, the core themes, the crucial sources of knowledge and inspiration, and the essential people inside and outside of the organization. During this phase, we begin shaping the communication work and the research efforts. We typically have three to five preliminary meetings that last two to four hours each, and are best defined as Design Sessions.
• The Laboratory > for three, four, or five days, a group (normally 25 to 125 people) works together inside a space that we shape and organize to support the collaborative process. We design, facilitate, produce, and document the whole experience, leaving participants free to focus solely on their work. The experience is immersive, the hours are long, the learning is deep, the productivity is immense – and, unlike most gatherings, the experience is active, energizing, and fun.
• Documentation and Sensemaking > at the end of a Lab, after participants leave, we begin the post-production process. We synthesize the outcomes, integrating the content-experience-solutions-energy-feelings-plans emerging from the participants’ work. Post-production and sensemaking can take one to three weeks, depending on the type, amount, and complexity of the work completed by the participants.
• The Innovation Hub > sometimes after a Lab, we support the transition phase and execution work from within. Usually we transform a meeting room into a temporary Innovation Hub and facilitate and support the work of the teams in charge of transforming ideas into actions. This phase tends to last one or two months – enough time to design and build the first components of a solid infrastructure for the future of the organization.
• “Notes From The Outer Edge” > at the end of a Lab, we share a reflection on the experience. This is not a comment on the solution that the group has designed inside the Lab. These notes are about our perspective on “making things happen” and “nurturing a culture of innovation.” They are informed by what we have learned during the project while standing on the shoulders of Giants.