Once upon a time a tribe from far, far away went to design bootcamp in Seattle. Everyday, day-after-day, the tribe walked miles in the freezing, blistering Seattle rain. One day, they were challenged to create a meaningful experience for another person. They tribe ventured back into the hard, dreary rains and they talked to and observed young people, waiting people, wet people and annoyed people. When they returned to design camp, they unpacked those conversations and observations, searching for patterns, differences and insights.
Then, there was an interruption, an outsider from a local clan, appeared and called the Improviser. He played the SILLIEST games like the Name Game, Dr. Know-it-All, & the strangest game of all "Yes, and." When the Improviser spoke the tribe listened and the last thing he said was: "IMPROV is about listening fully, listening with humility, building onto others' ideas, and making your partner look GREAT." Just as quickly as the Improvisor appeared, he was gone.
In his place, two more outsiders arrived from a clan of local ideators. The Ideators went to work immediately with ruthless precision and delicate care. No fun and games with this pair! They were about process, process, process AND getting every single idea out of the tribe's heads and onto sticky notes. The tribe brainstormed individually, group brainstormed, re-brainstormed, and leap-frogged brain-stormed. By the end of the session, the tribe was...spent. The Ideators grouped and placed the fragile ideas along a horizon from "easily attainable" to "pie in the sky." The Ideators were in, out and gone in the blink of an eye. But before they left, their parting words were clear: "The best way to have a good idea is to have a bunch of ideas." The tribe walked back to the tents in the rain, drained from the day and soaked from the Typhoon.
The next day, the tribe braved the rains again and when they returned to bootcamp, they were surprised to find a Master Builder. The Master Builder shared prototypes never seen before--from low resolution prototypes created with pen and paper to high-resolution prototypes with fully-functional digital interfaces. The tribe knew he was truly a Master Builder. He told countless stories of failure, failure and even more failure. He shared how he learned from early failures to improve design features. Then the clouds parted and the tribe heard him say, "Build it as early as possible. Break it then fix it. PROTOTYPE to THINK." With that, the tribe was off to build, prototype and test their designs with the Master Builder alongside them.
Since then, the tribe returned to sunnier skies in their home lands and they have never been quite the same. One of the tribe members said, "I am a better collaborator, contributor, designer and person today then before I went to bootcamp. I have greater confidence." I believe in ordinary people who want to do extraordinary work.
Our tribe was organized into three study groups: Empathy to Insights, Ideation, and Rapid Prototyping. I believe culture is not just about wearing the same shirts on Friday (which is totally cool!) or celebrating birthdays (which is also super cool!!). I believe another way to view culture is through the lens of HOW we work together: how we listen to each other, develop shared points of view, cultivate and test new ideas, and our willingness to wade through messinesses to make something beautiful and radically useful.