Born out of a pressing need to help innovation project teams work together as an everyday collaborative rather than as an every meeting group. I explored the creation of Design Space here: A tool to help create winning products,and services (the explanation below is aimed at products). Design Space enables the exploration and development of ideas, defining what makes a great concept and driving the project towards launch. it will underpin existing innovation frameworks helping to generate information required for gate meetings, sponsors and others on the extended team.
Design Space is one of the four main tools of Design@The Edge; Design Pyramid is a tool that drives the exploration resulting from asking "What should we be creating?"
Design Space facilitates the search for answers to the questions "How do we deliver it (the What)?" giving help to individuals on the team wrestling with their own personal dilemma... "What questions should I be asking?" ...reminding them that
"There are no foolish questions and no man becomes a fool until he has stopped asking questions." - Saul Steinberg,
Initially, questioning should be focused on developing a better understanding of the complexity of the project, and identifying the relationship between all the different elements, along with finding out whether there are any areas that have yet to be explored. For example we might explore these questions:
What must the product do- what makes a good idea?
What are the information gaps that could prevent us from achieving success- what would we like to know?
What are the associated risks for the project - what could go wrong?
What actions need to take place - what do we need to do know?
We then need to ask
Where do I look for the opportunities and constraints?
Identifying opportunities and constraints requires all the team members to share what they know and discover what they don't know. Opportunities reside within the business and its partners, both existing and potential. Through understanding the needs and wants (articulated or not) of the person who is buying and using the product we can find 'enabling' areas that we might work on.
Opportunity areas are:-
Who will buy the product?
Why will they buy it?
What do they need/want?
What must the product bring to the brand?
What can it borrow from the brand?
How can this product help deliver the brand strategy?
What opportunities and constraints does technology bring?
Business and strategic fit
what are the financial goals?
What level of risk is acceptable?
Constraints are the factors that can narrow our opportunity search, if we are too focused on the conflicting areas as we produce and get our product in front of potential buyers.
"It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all." Edward do Bono.
It is exploring the tensions between the opportunities and constraints that brings the team together, turning individual knowledge into team knowledge, and leading to great ideas.
Constraint areas are:-
How does the product get to market?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of competing brands and products?
What challenges could they make to our claims?
What patents do they own?
How flexible is existing equipment?
What are the opportunities/constraints of new equipment?
what role do suppliers and partners play?
Environmental, external and regulatory
What social, economic and political trends might impact this product?
What legislation is relevant?
What are the environmental consequences?
The beauty of playing (seriously) in Design Space is that it unleashes the creative potential of the players, and if we take Steve Jobs contention that
"That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they've had more experiences or have thought more about their experiences than other people.
By getting 'everybody' in the same place at the same time we are assembling diverse experiences in the space and using appropriate tools and techniques making sure we have plenty of dots to connect.