Decision by Design:
A Rough Time Line for the DesignShop® Process

James B. Smethurst
September 25, 1997

For most participants, a DesignShop® event lasts for three days, from beginning to end, but for the sponsors and for the design team from MG Taylor, the DesignShop process can extend over a period that may extend to a month or two. This process remains reasonably flexible, but we have found that the following time line serves as an effective guide to how the process should work.

The Players
A small nucleus of the principal stakeholders from the DesignShop customer comprises the Sponsor Team. These sponsors will work with the facilitators to design the event, but they will also be active participants in the DesignShop event itself. The Sponsor Team works for the facilitators. This sounds counterintuitive, but the facilitators must be afforded the best opportunity and resources to produce a design requisite to the challenge. The KreW will support the event; writing the assignments, handling logistics, documenting the DesignShop event, producing work products, maintaining the environment as an information factory.

The process outlined below follows the work of the sponsor team from its introduction to MG Taylor through the DesignShop event to the wrap-up session after the event during which the facilitation team and the sponsor team can design appropriate next steps.

Discovery Session
The Discovery Session is normally the first official contact between MG Taylor and the prospective client. Held in an MG Taylor environment (a Management Center, Navigation Center™ facility, or knOwhere® Store) well before the event itself, this session allows both MG Taylor and the client to learn about each other and to explore how a DesignShop event might be of value. We call this "playing S'poze." The session also acts an an introduction to some of MG Taylor's environments and processes. A small KreW of Knowledge Workers document the session and produce a work product that is usually distributed to the participants as they leave. By the end of this session, MG Taylor and the client have normally agreed either to proceed with a DesignShop event or to look for other ways to address the client's challenges.

Sponsor Session
The Sponsor Session, again held in an MG Taylor environment, takes place between two weeks and a month before the scheduled event. The purpose of this session is to create a preliminary design for the DesignShop event. Again, both the facilitators and the sponsors must learn from each other. The sponsors will participate in MG Taylor's design process and the learn its rules of engagement--the rules for participants that we have found best facilitate a successful event. Logistics are finalized along with the participant list. The facilitation team must learn just enough about the client, the client's conditions and the client's vision to be able to design an event. Too much knowledge will restrict the facilitation team's ability to design "out of the box." Too little knowledge will move the DesignShop's content in the wrong direction. What the facilitation team needs to learn during this session is the general nature of the client and the problems that the client faces. This session can last from a half-day to a full day.

The Walk-thru takes place the day before the DesignShop event begins. The sponsors, facilitators, and often the entire KreW revisit the design from the Sponsor Session. Does the design still accomplish what it was intended to accomplish? Have any conditions changed in the days since the Sponsor Session that would affect this design? The design of the event is recreated in light of any changes in condition or vision. After the Walk-thru, the KreW, facilitators and sponsors finish last minute preparations for the event.

DesignShop® Event
During the DesignShop event itself, either before participants arrive in the morning or after they leave in the evening, the sponsors and facilitators will circle-up to discuss the process and to make any design adjustments that might be required. By maintaining contact throughout the event, facilitators and sponsors can ensure that they capitalize on any opportunities that arise during the event, or adjust the focus of the event should conditions suddenly change.

Sponsor Wrap-up and Work Product Delivery
The day after the DesignShop event ends and the participants leave, the sponsor team will meet again with the facilitators. The group debriefs the event and finalizes what kinds of work products the client would like to receive. The group decides what further work needs to be done, and what the particular next steps should be. Within a few days the work products, usually including a Journal, will be delivered.


For more on the role of sponsors, see the Guidelines for DesignShop Sponsors and Participants

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