... last week on The Real Creativity Students of Hennepin County...
I arrived at two problem statements after three interviews and an online survey:
Kevin needs a way to work out without being bothered by these new gym members (at least until they quit or learn the ropes) because people make resolutions to lose weight and then go to the gym for the first time,
Wunmi needs a way to experience the excitement of the ball drop closer to home because she thinks it would be really fun but Times Square is too far away.
And now, the continuation.
I was worried about my problem statements. They seemed specific, obscure, and not likely to be easily solved by a product. So, I revisited my research. After scouring my online survey for new problems, I found a trend that many people's worst experience with New Year's Eve was being alone. Perhaps we could address that problem? I decided to add it to the mix.
My session was a bit of a struggle. I began work to recruit participants for my session on Thursday, and had a sufficient lineup for a Sunday session. Then, one by one, as I went to their doors, they gave various excuses as to how they could not participate. I was left with two. I was able to get two more, but then one of them didn't show up. So, when my session began I had three people. They all forgot to come with solutions to the problems I'd sent them.
But let's back up. To prepare for this session, I purchases a pack of jumbo Post-It notes and grabbed some Sharpies, air freshener, and a camera, and found a study lounge. I arranged the furniture for optimal brainstorming (keeping in mind that one of my participants is wheelchair-bound), laid out the pads and markers, sprayed some Cashmere Woods Glade (seriously the best scent), and turned on some music. I used the smells and music to try and create as fun and interesting an environment as possible. I also dressed in bright colors and wore an old-school hat to keep things funky.
Once my three participants showed up we began with some warm ups. We played the classic Zip Zap Zop to start and then moved on to a new one, The Scream. In The Scream everybody puts their head down, and on the count of three looks either to their left or right or straight ahead. If you make eye contact with someone else in the circle, you scream. When playing with a lot of people, those who made eye contact would be eliminated, however, with only 4 we just kept going. To finish off, I introduced a new warm up I'd invented, called Black & White. Two people step forward, and one of them begins by saying a word. This begins a volley of opposites: each person tries to say and opposite of what the other just said, without repeating words. An example of a volley: red, green, dead, alive, bored, nail, screw, and so forth. The idea is to force people to think differently than what has already been said and avoid obvious associations. To keep the game going, anybody in the circle can "tap out" one of the speakers and replace them if they have a good response.
After under 10 minutes of warm-ups, I explained the guidelines for brainstorming and brought out some dark chocolate.
Then, we began. I started with a quick, five-minute session on, "How might we improve New Year's Eve?" to get the juices going.
Next, we started to address the real issues. We drafted a janitor to join in. The schedule went like this:
15 min = How might we give people who don't have anyone to be with on New Year's Eve a way to not feel lonely?
5 min = opposite/worst ideas
20 min = How might we find a way so that regular gym members don't have to deal with all the new people who make New Year's resolutions to work out?
5 min = How might we give people a way to experience the ball drop without having to travel to New York City?
5 min = different perspective (choose your favorite TV/movie character)
I did the ball drop session just to have some back up in case the first two didn't yield good results.
For the last five minutes or so I actually had 5 other people (another person showed up 53 minutes late).
We ended up with a rate of about .6 ideas per person per minute. We spent about 5 minutes doing a silent sort, much like in class. I got permission to post the sketches without giving credit to the artists. Categories that emerged:
Being Alone: parties/events, human substitutes, & self-reflection
New Gym Members: incentives, shunning/temptation, and separation
I was ultimately disappointed with the results and feel that I needed to give more guidance or better prompts. Perhaps if I'd phrased the "how might we" statements more concisely and broadly, the participants would have made more creative ideas. Nonetheless, here are my top 10:
Top five for being alone:
Top five for new gym members: