What is a DesignShop® Event?

See also knOwhere's DesignShop description

"The only valid test of an idea, concept or theory is what it allows you to do." This is one of the DesignShop axioms that is read to the participants at the beginning of a DesignShop event. For the last twenty years, MG Taylor has tested the DesignShop concept hundreds of times with hundreds of organizations and thousands of people. What the DesignShop event has allowed these organizations to do has been to solve their most pressing problems. Groups have used DesignShop events to complete mergers, develop marketing plans, instill new cultures, redesign entire organizations, create shared visions of what is and what can be, resolve seemingly deadlocked union struggles, and design solutions that would have taken months or years of "business as usual" to create, if indeed "business as usual" could have designed a solution at all. An experience of a very different way of working, the DesignShop event proves its value in the results that it produces.

For a DesignShop event, all of the key stakeholders, decision makers and interested parties are brought together so that the decisions that need to be made can be made. During the event, participants rigorously explore their current conditions and their visions of the future, co-design multiple solutions, assess the merits of their different solutions, and decide which solution shall be implemented and how the implementation will proceed. Using the power of parallel processing--looking at various issues from different vantage points and synthesizing the results of that examination--participants can deal with the tremendous complexity involved in planning for the future. A large group brings diversity of opinion, knowledge, experience and vantage point, enabling the DesignShop process to release their dynamic group genius. The design of the event follows the Scan Focus Act process:

During the SCAN phase, the participants confront and process a vast body of information and knowledge. Participants build models of emerging social and economic trends. They establish a common language for the group, identifying terms of art, uncovering assumptions, and discovering the unexpected. A context emerges for the area of focus. Judgment and argument are withheld during this time so that ideas can flow freely. The scan phase is based on the DesignShop axiom, "Creativity is the process of eliminating options." Wise elimination assumes that rich, dynamic, timely options have been explored. The variety of ideas created by thirty, sixty or ninety people multi-tasking allows the participants to design from many different vantage points simultaneously.

In the FOCUS phase, participants use parallel processing to systematically examine the ideas generated during the scan. The market, financial, cultural, organizational, and social dynamics of the potential paths are explored by modeling and 'Spoze. Through these exercises, participants set aside prejudices, work through "stretch" models and scenarios as if they were true, then step back and to examine the viability of the different options they have created. Scenarios using convergence possibilities are examined. Participants have said that the focus day is hundreds of percentage points more productive than a typical meeting day. Each successive round of the iterative process provides more discrimination and clarity to the designs and ideas that the group creates. By the end of FOCUS, participants have a clear vision of the route they will be taking.

During the ACT phase, the ideas and design from the first two phases converge. Throughout the process, ideas have either gained strength and developed or fallen away naturally. The strong components remain, and design ideas turn into programs and projects which are laid out over time. The group reaches a common vision and engineers a comprehensive plan of implementation through group genius. From the rich body of knowledge developed over the previous two days, the group chooses those elements most critical to their organization's particular needs.

In addition, the experience of the past several days becomes the model for a new way of working. As a stand-alone event, the DesignShop event can be used to design solutions to tremendous problems. Its greatest value, however, can be found in the pattern of work that the DesignShop process represents. By taking the Ten Step Knowledge Management process with them when they return to their organizations, participants discover that productivity levels of a DesignShop event can be replicated at home.

For more about the DesignShop process, see Leaping the Abyss: Putting Group Genius to Work and knOwhere's DesignShop description

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