“I don’t really know how to be creative.” “That’s not really my thing.” We hear these phrases every day, since many people connect creativity with art. But, to be honest, we can be creative in any environment.
From a medical surgeon who has to quickly deal with an unexpected issue, to an engineer who has to solve a work-related problem and even a person who wants to innovate in the kitchen, all these situations require creativity. Everybody thinks that people who design are creative and solve problems differently, and that those who studied something related to Maths or Science cannot be creative at all. But what would happen if we told you we can all find some creativity within ourselves, that we just need to change our perspective a little bit?
For a UX designer, the possibility to find solutions in isolation is unimaginable. Since we cannot create any UX if we don’t take into account the user, any solution found in isolation would be too partial and, consequently, it wouldn’t really work for the final user.
This is why collaborative working is one of the most powerful methods for a UX designer. We reach innovation by never losing sight of the user, other potential users, stakeholders, designers and more.
But… What do We Know about Innovation?
Usually, it’s not easy for certain teams that aren’t used to working creatively to understand they can be creative and innovative. But before we tell you about our work at intive, let’s see what we understand by “innovation”. We could define it as a change that brings about updates, whether by modifying pre-existing elements (in our case, processes) in order to improve them or by implementing totally new elements or processes.
We frequently classify innovation based on the update it’s introducing or the level of change produced. As UX designers, we innovate in different ways so as to use collaborative working in search of creativity, in all areas of intive.
There are five types of innovation:
Radical innovation: it’s related to new products, services or processes that bring about significant changes.
Incremental innovation: it implies a lower risk, since it’s done naturally, with knowledge of the current market or consumers (in case it’s a product). At intive, we’ve carried out this type of innovation by getting to the bottom of the problem and getting to know the users, and that’s how we were able to optimize our existing processes.
Experimental innovation: in this case, there’s more uncertainty. It’s all about creating products and services which are different from the current ones, and the main objective is to explore new business opportunities.
Differentiated innovation: this takes place when new capabilities are developed or acquired to create solutions that may satisfy the users’ needs. Usually, these new capabilities are related to a new technology or know-how. We could very well say this type of innovation has happened naturally at intive Argentina, since we could transfer the way we worked in one UX to other areas, strengthening the concept of “co-creation” and “team work” (area participants and users).
Disruptive innovation: this arises when new capabilities are developed to reach new markets. It implies more uncertainty and risk, but the rewards are greater. The idea of transferring a designer’s way of thinking to more analytic areas meant that we had to be disruptive, bringing tools and working processes that areas such as HR are able to use now. What’s more, nowadays, these sectors are more active in terms of debating and listening to their users.
Collaborative Working as Creative Resource
Using agile methodology tools, such as empathy maps, scenario design, insight analysis and detection, we invite intivers to “learn by doing”, starting from the principle of combining thought and action. Which are the advantages?
- One of the main advantages of collaborative working is that we can get rid of the idea that “some people aren’t creative at all.” Through different activities, we try to “make progress little by little”, so that participants feel comfortable in a state of uncertainty and are able to jump into action, counterbalancing the feeling of being stuck and not in control because they’re out of their comfort zone.
- Another great advantage is the diversity of opinions. Solutions found in collaborative working sessions are innovative and can be naturally adopted by the team. Since they’re part of the solution, they feel they own it and that it’s not imposed on them.
“We need to think together, because we think differently.” That’s co-creation. The idea is to bring together different perspectives, types of knowledge and investigations to create solutions that solve the challenges or problems we face.
Lockdown: An Opportunity for Collaborative Working
For us, designers, remote working was a double challenge. Not only did we become “the gurus of creative and collaborative working,” but also, since we had to take on this role remotely, it was difficult to choose which activities and tools we were going to use in the different workshops. In this sense, we found a great ally in Miro, a tool that became vital in our quest to introduce collaborative working.
Nowadays, activities and this collaborative tool help participants feel comfortable, supported and motivated into action. We know many of the activities proposed may make participants uncomfortable, but the recreational environment helps us come up with ideas through different actions. In this sense, creativity feels real. This is why, in this special context, we’ve decided to rely on games.
Games help us turn something tedious into something pleasant and even enjoyable, creating a better experience. We can divide the gaming structure in three parts:
- The game itself. In the case of collaborative workshops, these games would be the methodologies and tools employed.
- The rules. For example, how much time is allotted to solve a task, when it’s time to share, how voting is done, etc.
- The objectives to accomplish with each methodology and tool.
Finally, games also motivate participants into action. Since they’re thinking about the objectives of each activity, they get involved in the process so as to attain the established goal. At the different stages of the collaborative workshops, not only did we increase participants’ confidence in their ability to create, but we also got total approval of the Miro collaborative tool, the methodologies (like a design sprint), and the tools, such as empathy maps, impact/ effort matrix or idea napkin, to name a few. As a result, several areas started using these resources on their everyday work. It was a win-win situation.
We Think Differently, but Together
Solutions created together are more robust than those developed individually. Every person contributes something unique and valuable to the solution, because their thinking differs from others. Besides, the feeling of ownership increases, avoiding team discontent when the time comes to implement it. Since they were involved in the solution development, they feel more committed with the results and trust in the project or process increases.
For us, designers, being able to provide these sessions is beautiful. We become guides and guardians in each of the workshops, with the aim of achieving the established objectives.
What about you? Have you ever taken part in a collaborative workshop? Which are the most useful methodologies, or your favorite tools?