Colin led a fun warm-up to help us get into teams for "Factory Week Games" (to be held on Friday). He pre-selected some images related to Olympic games and randomly placed them under our chairs, image-side down. We found them awaiting us as we gathered for our DiSC facilitation.
Our task was simple: find two SmallBoxers with a similarly-themed image. But just because something seems simple, doesn't mean it's easy. One thing we do a lot of for clients is synthesizing data, making sense of things, and finding themes. I went into the activity confidently. I've sorted hundreds of data points before – this should be no big deal, right? But the reality is that even within a small set of game-related images, we might find infinite combinations, from very concrete to increasingly abstract.
My image was the stadium in Rio. Early on, Nick and I thought we had a match based on both of us having images of venues. As we sought out a third person with a venue image, it was hard to see other possibilities. But alas, that wasn't the winning combination. I had fallen into an easy pitfall of jumping to solving quickly and getting set on an idea.
The majority of my synthesis experience has been with sorting words. Things like quotes from interviews, survey responses, research data points. I haven't had a lot of situations where I needed to uncover the patterns in images, especially without a lot of context or research. Struggling through this helped me get into beginner's mind and open myself to curiosity. I had to let go of this "venue" construct to allow myself to see other options – things that are round, fields with grass, aerial shots...
It took us a while to see that what Colin intended for us to piece together was a "Rio" theme. Here we finally made our match:
It led to an interesting parallel of the workshop we teach on human-centered design. We often show people how to create an affinity diagram, mapping information collected during interviews to draw out interesting patterns and insights. It's not an easy thing to teach precisely because there are so many possibilities on how to synthesize and organize the data, and people often wonder if they are doing it "right."
If you give three different people the same data set and ask them to sort it into themes that make sense to them, you'll get three unique results. And all three of them will be valid and interesting constructs. There is no black and white, right or wrong answer. The beauty of it is that every person has their own distintive lens and perspective, and we can learn something from all of them.
I love warm-ups like this, because you can pack in a lot pf punch in a very short period of time. It was both fun and challenging. It got us up and out of our chairs, moving around and interacting with one another. It made me think about how we work in a new way too.
And, of course, we ended up with our teams. Let the games begin...