Designing, Building and Using a NavCenter™ System
A General Timeline for Implementation


For an introduction to NavCenters Environments: The Creation Environment: An Introduction to NavCenter Systems

[Editor's Note: This timeline was developed during a DesignSession event held in the knOwhere Store, Hilton Head, South Carolina, from June 12-19. Participants included Bill Blackburn, Bryan Coffman, David Desmond, Brenda Eckmair, Bill Espinosa, Jay Smethurst and Gail Taylor.]

The viability of NavCenter systems, like that of any living system, requires a carefully managed and supported start-up period. A NavCenter environment does not launch upon its mission fully formed. It must learn to engage with the current corporate culture without sacrificing the integrity of the processes that allow it to bring projects to healthy fruition. It must evolve its own best practices in an organic fashion--reproducing and recombining its systems like successive generations of plants instead of mass producing standardized forms like parts for a machine. Because working in a NavCenter environment differs so much from working in a traditional business environment, the center's Sponsor team must diligently cultivate the formation and expression of new habits from the start.

MG Taylor custom designs every NavCenter environment in collaboration with the client because each client is unique. This design is not an intellectual, paper-based exercise to be followed in linear fashion by build-out and occupancy. Instead the design, building and using stages integrate and overlap with one another in multiple, rapid iterations. Even while designers execute drawings for a permanent center, the client occupies a temporary center where their experience is folded into the design in real time. Users therefore have a direct influence on the next iteration of design. And since nearly all of the physical systems that comprise a NavCenter environment are on wheels, the user retains the ability to reset the space to accommodate, anticipate, and facilitate change even after the "permanent" facility is deployed. This employment of the Design, Build, Use process includes not only the physical environment but education, technical systems, project management tools, facilitation capability, knowledge management systems, and venture management systems (see the 7 Domains model).

Here's how a typical roll out might proceed.

Identity, Vision, Intent
The above diagram tracks the process of NavCenter development against the Seven Stages of the Creative Process model. The first three stages--from Identity through Vision and Intent--usually take place in a DesignShop® Event held in an MG Taylor or affiliate-owned Management Center. Management Centers deploy DesignShop events most frequently to assist clients through these initial stages of a project or venture, what we call the Scan phase. NavCenters environments, on the other hand, take over where Management Centers leave off and drive the process through the remaining four stages, from Insight through Using.

Insight, Engineering
Immediately following the DesignShop a team assembles a portable NavCenter environment in a temporary location at the client's site. The KreW of Transition Managers begins work immediately with the various project leaders and teams to take the plans and visions from the DesignShop event and expand, integrate and test them more thoroughly. The KreW also develops the expertise and routines that will support the project as it moves forward. They learn how to turn the Center into an information factory so that whoever enters can rapidly develop a sense of the scope of the project over time, the relationships and connections between its various components, and how their piece fits. During this shakedown run, the permanent NavCenter facility comes on line.

Building, Using
Once the plan stabilizes and achieves requisite variety with the rest of the corporate environment and the outside world, the KreW shifts the NavCenter facility into operational mode in support of implementation.

The process spans six to eight weeks from the end of the DesignShop event to operational readiness. The general pattern just described follows three phases:


Stage of the Creative Process

Phase of Work



Identity, Vision, Intent Management Center Phase: DesignShop event Discovery Day


Sponsor Team Session


SimNavCenter I KreW Education Workshop


Walk Thru and DesignShop event


Temp NavCenter facility Established; Post DesignShop Work


Insight, Engineering NavCenter Phase: 30-Day DesignShop process and the Permanent Facility Opens

30-Day DesignShop process

  • See the big picture
  • Align sub-projects
  • Establish new way of work
  • Explore connections between activities and sub-projects





Permanent NavCenter facility Opens

Stabilization and SimNavCenter II Workshop


Building, Using NavCenter Phase: Commencement of Regular Operations Regular Operations Up To Speed


Management Center Phase: DesignShop Event (Identity through Intent)

Week -4: Discovery Day
Most clients receive a thorough introduction to MG Taylor, NavCenter facilities, and the DesignShop process prior to a Discovery Day either by phone or through preliminary meetings. MG Taylor also gathers preliminary information concerning the client's project, venture, or purpose. During the Discovery Day, the client gets to experience a little of what a DesignShop event is like. Both the client and MG Taylor also get to play 'Spoze. Together they imagine what the outcomes of the DesignShop event might look like and something of the process by which they are achieved. They also envision follow-up strategies, one of which is the installation of a NavCenter facility.

If all parties agree to move forward, a tentative date for the initial three-day DesignShop event is set. MG Taylor and the Sponsors send out a call for KreW members for the event. This KreW should include individuals from the MG Taylor network (both experienced and newcomers) and from the client's organization as well. Client KreW need no experience (a simulation of a DesignShop process is held for all inexperienced Explorers before the actual DesignShop event begins). However, they should all be volunteers. DesignShop work is too challenging and demands too much initiative and sapiential leadership to be forced upon anyone.

At this point, preliminary work on the NavCenter Program and Schematic Concept begins. If later on the client chooses not to build a NavCenter environment, little will be lost compared with the consequences of delaying the Program and falling behind the power curve.

Week -4 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Write the initial Program for the NavCenter facility including scope, scale and goal
  • Create a Schematic Concept for the NavCenter Program--the first sketch

Week -3: Sponsor Team Session
Usually several weeks pass between the Discovery Day and the Sponsor Team Session. The facilitator, process facilitator, and client Sponsor team produce a Straw Dog design for the upcoming DesignShop event. The design usually details all of the modules and events of the first day and sketches out the events of DesignShop days two and three. The participant list is finalized. Final expectations and outcomes are agreed upon (although these frequently change during the DesignShop event as a result of the discovery and exploration that takes place).

Week -3 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Create the Preliminary Design to scale for the Permanent NavCenter facility
  • Begin temporary and permanent NavCenter site selection process. Provide site selection criteria to client for temp and permanent Center and satellite locations
  • Sign term agreement on temporary fulfillment
  • Present proposal/contract to client
  • Present professional services agreement for first 4 months to client
  • Invite the NavCenter project manager (for build-out and fulfillment), facilitators, Center Master, Center Manager, architectural firm, etc. to step up to the work.

Week -2: SimNavCenter I--a Simulated DesignShop Experience
If the project is definitely a "Go" then the tentative KreW attends a three day simulation of what it's like to work in a NavCenter environment, including how to support a DesignShop event and other facilitated sessions. If the decision to install a NavCenter facility after the DesignShop event is undecided or "No" then new KreW members attend a one day simulation for how to support a DesignShop process. This simulation usually immediately precedes the DesignShop Walk Thru.

Weeks -1 and 0: Walk Thru and DesignShop Event
The Walk Thru takes place the day before the DesignShop event. The entire KreW and the Sponsor Team attends. The design of the shop is finalized and prep work concluded.

At the DesignShop event, up to 100 participants develop a powerful Intent to carry forward a compelling Vision--a desire to bring the Vision into being. This event will bring all of the key stakeholders together for three or four days of concentrated design work.

During the last month or so the client has painted ever clearer pictures of the Identity and Vision for their project and purpose, drawing energy from their level of Intent. By the end of the event, the Vision is "complete" in that it stands as a viable description of the project's end result and of several possible paths that bring the Vision into being as a future Identity. The documentation and results from a DesignShop event held in a Management Center provide the client with a blueprint for moving forward.

The week following the DesignShop process marks a period of rejuvenation and reflection for the KreW and the Sponsor Team. The KreW reviews the documentation from the event to extract and synthesize the key points and models which will be posted in the temporary NavCenter facility to remind participants of and re-immerse them in their visions, decisions and plans. These models should also be configured to assist people new to the project in coming up to speed.

If the client has not selected a sponsor team for the NavCenter facility (different, perhaps than the sponsor team for the DesignShop event), before the DesignShop event, one is assembled during.

Week -1 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Gain agreement from client to move forward on temporary NavCenter facility (Day 4 of the DS event)
  • Begin Design Development activities including detailed drawings and firmer costs.

Week 0 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Ship products to temp facility (WorkWalls, WorkFurniture and accessories)
  • Prep technology (server & PC's)
    • Ship PC's to temporary site (our fulfillment or arranged through client's MIS)
  • Gain agreement/sign contract with client
  • Execute Contract Documents for the build-out
  • Provide read aheads to NavCenter Sponsor Team
    • Mission, Work Products from DesignShop event, Way of Working, Fiduciary Responsibility Guidelines, Venture Management Plan, Current State of the ANDMap document, ANDMapping Guidebook, Relevant articles (e.g., from Kevin Kelly's Out of Control)


NavCenter Phase: 30-Day DesignShop Event and the Permanent Facility (Insight and Engineering)

Weeks +1 to +4: 30-Day Insight and Engineering DesignShop Event
The plan is finished, but it still needs to be engineered. This is not a paper exercise, nor an extended planning session. Real work on the project begins immediately. Teams begin to conduct sessions in the client's temporary environment. These sessions fulfill four purposes: (1) to test the soundness of the plan (2) to allow all of the project teams to create and see the big picture and their place within it, (3) to drill down to a requisite level of detail including resource planning and (4) to understand the "white space" on the ANDMap documents--the implications of the relationships between the activities on the maps. The NavCenter environment provides a neutral space for all of these people and teams to work unencumbered by traditional constraints: the dialog between different vantage points forms the creative tension that allows superior solutions and creations to emerge.

This drive through Insight and Engineering is accomplished by conducting a "30-day" DesignShop process of tightly structured and designed events. The tight structuring reinforces the rules of engagement for working an a NavCenter facility and sets a cadence or pace for activities in the center. It also impels a requisite focus on the generative and assimilative stages of the project to maintain momentum without careening out of control.

Week +1 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Begin Production Management on the permanent facility.
  • Beachhead team arrives (MGT, ValueWeb members, and client)
  • Journal, work product and related info. accessible via the web and in the center.
  • Receive shipments from knOwhere (supplies, books and tools) and Athenaeum International (furniture)
  • Set up the environment (WorkWall units, WorkFurniture, accessories, technology, ANDMap tools, Infolog, Chronofile, post values and philosophies, culture and other "GOLD" knowledge objects
  • Prep for Sponsor team meeting and ANDMap work
  • Bring in new KreW recruits for discovery
  • Sponsor team meeting (Wednesday and Thursday)
    • Reiterate the ANDMap document
    • Identify additional teams to come and continue ANDMap iteration and manipulation
  • Provide read aheads to management teams

Week +2 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Bring in management teams to iterate and manipulate the ANDMap document(5 hour sessions)
    • One-half hour to review current iteration of Map and key thinking (may take one hour)
  • Through iteration of Map work towards identification of critical path(s)
  • Continue to bring in Explorers (interested, potential Knowledge Workers) for discovery sessions

Week +3 and +4 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Continue Week +2 activities
  • Natural projects emerge
  • Look for ANDMap stabilization

Week +5: Stabilization, Requisite Variety and Sim NavCenter II
At some point the "lights will come on." A sense of "knowing where we are, where we've been and where we're going" will fall over the center. Once difficult and confusing tasks become routine: the KreW moves with an unprecedented effortlessness and intentionality. Project teams stop fighting the process and engage with it instead. When someone walks into the NavCenter environment for the first time, they can "grok" the whole project--its history, its current status, and its projected future state in a matter of an hour or two. This transfer takes place via the information displayed on over 2,400 square feet of WorkWall units, on kiosks, and through stories told by the KreW or project team members. At this point the center Sponsor calls for another simulation workshop where the KreW and key project team members will design the operating system that they will use together in the months to come. At the same time, the permanent facility comes on line and there is time for celebration and commencement.

Week +5 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Continue Week +2 activities
  • Natural projects emerge--ones that previously were hidden in the "white spaces" of the project's plan
  • Look for ANDMap stabilization
  • If stabilized move to Phase II transition => SimNavCenter II: NavCenter DesignSession planning
    • 1 day preparation (Monday)
    • 3 day DesignSession event(Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
    • 1 to 2 day work products (published to the Intranet)(Friday & Saturday)
    • Build first iteration of project dashboard


NavCenter Phase: Commencement of Ongoing Operations (Building and Using)

Week +6 and beyond: Commence Regular NavCenter Operations
The period of gestation has concluded and the NavCenter facilty stands on its own. Relationships and roles of the sponsors, project managers and mentors are made official. Work continues on the project at a high pace and productivity. The entire project has entered the Building and Using stages of the creative process.

Week +6 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Occupy permanent NavCenter facility
  • Begin to build and propose value propositions, contracts and projects
  • Commission Strategic Track Sponsors and Mentors
  • Commission Sponsor Team and Leadership Team
  • Commission budgets and key projects

Week +8 NavCenter Specific Activities:

  • Schedule education sessions
    • DesignShop events at other centers for NavCenter KreW to support. This is how best practices get shared
    • 7 Domains® Workshop
    • Weak Signal® Research Workshop

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