Responsibility of KreW Leads in DesignShop® Events

Frances Gillard

from e-mails dated between 12/24/1996 and 01/18/1997

(published 1/31/1997)

Editor's Note: Frances was Process Facilitator for the first DesignShop event in the Cambridge Management Center. She agreed to chronicle her adventure for the Journal of Transition Management. This article is one of several that will be published.

The DesignShop event in question was a complex event, involving over a dozen KreW members. In order to facilitate this group, Frances asked for individuals to step up to the role of Lead for a particular area of work. This has been done routinely in the past in DesignShop evnts, but it has rarely been documented this thoroughly.

Additional comments by the Editor, Bryan Coffman appear in maroon italics.

Prologue: 12/18/1997
Most of you have heard me say two phrases more times than you probably care to remember: "Agreed upon expectations" and "Always challenge your assumptions". In order to minimize any challenge to your assumptions for this event, I'd like to offer a few of my expectations for your consideration, discussion, and ultimately our mutual agreement. I figured it's easier and and more relaxing for me to do this now than in the heat of the week.

First of all, I derived from the sponsor session a real likelihood for certain exercises which we should be prepared to implement. These exercises include: Take-A-Panel® module, Weak Signal® Research/Trends (as we did in a recent event), Metaphors, Future Scenarios, Modeling (modeling factory like at Wharton maybe?), and stuff around Stuart Kauffman's At Home in the Universe - patch theory, fitness peaks, etc.

Here are some of my expectations in specific areas, let me know if we agree or if I'm way out in left field. Most of this you already know and do anyway, being the experts that you are!! As always, I know we'll jump in and do whatever to help the client and each other without any 'that's not my area' whining (why do you think I picked all of you as team members!) But at least as a Lead, each of us can have some focus to our worrying vs. worrying about everything (that seems to fall to the Process Facilitator!)

There are many ways to look at the work that goes on in a DesignShop process. The nomenclature associated with the following list of leads has been developed in the MG Taylor network over many years. It tends to divide the work into functional tasks, such as documenting reports and conversations via keyboard on a computer, handling graphics, or producing the final product. Some nomenclature seems necessary to help people understand the process and their place in it. I'm not advocating the elimination of nomenclature. But language defines and builds structure. Structure frees and constrains. While it seems logical and natural to organize our KreWs around different tasks to be done, there may be other ways of approaching the problem. As the technology in Management Centers becomes ever more sophisticated, we risk fragmenting into hierarchies of specialties.


A comment about the use of Leads in DesignShop events. It's clear that the term "Lead" could be an abbreviation for "Leader." What we mean by that term in MG Taylor is different than the ordinary use of the word. Team Leads are not responsible for the work of the people who work with them in that team. They are not managers of those people. They are not "in charge" of the work being done by that team. They do not dictate assignments or roles. Many of their team members will be serving on other teams. Some of their team members will have Sponsors or mentors who are on other teams. They do not report to the Process Facilitator or the Facilitators. They are not layers in a chain of command. Every KreW member works FOR the participants and facilitates each other's work.

The term "Lead" as a noun can also mean a margin by which one is ahead, a clue, a piece of information of use in a search, or an element that connects two other elements of an electric circuit. These definitions capture the spirit of what we mean by the term more than the traditional meaning--command, or direction.

Team Leads serve three key roles: (1) to be a single point of contact that people can call on for information concerning the work being done in their team, (2) to facilitate--or make easy--the work of their fellow team members, and (3) they actually have specific duties to perform in accomplishing the work of the team.

A basic tenet of work in a DesignShop process holds that KreW members step up to the work, and are not dragged into roles or positions. The team Lead, as well as the Process Facilitator, have the opportunity of presenting a picture of the work to be done in a manner that is accessible to the rest of the KreW so that they all can make intelligent, individual decisions as to what work they want to do. Leads manage the Ten Step Knowledge Management Model for their team.

[There were several iterations of the expectations, some produced before the event and some afterwards. What follows is the iteration developed before the event. More detailed iterations for the Physical Production and the Electronic Production Leads were produced following the DesignShop process and may be found on linked web pages.]

List of Leads:

This lead is responsible for physically maintaining originals and masters of all the pieces (mostly paper) generated during the event. These should be kept in chronological order by module to facilitate assembly of the Journal. The lead should keep tight control over how many hands can get into the archive treasure chest, otherwise known as the Banker's Boxes, to avoid originals becoming lost or misplaced. The lead should stay abreast of the changing schedule and execution of activities in the DesignShop process and ring someone's chimes if necessary to properly maintain your archives. (For example, if the participants self-select teams vs. a written team assignment, the lead will need a copy of the sign-up sheets.) [For more information on this lead, see this article.]

Research for client and event related information from a variety of sources is published to the KnowledgeWall display. Keep the display updated and refreshed in an appealing manner, including its layout and application of graphics. The client may be able to provide a whole set of stuff for you to use.

Work with the sponsors and facilitators to try to make sense of what they want in the written assignments that participants receive at the start of some modules. Written assignments should be in a template which coordinates with the Physical Production team's and the Documentation team's format (font, etc.). Graphic headers are usually provided by the Graphics team. If written instructions are to be posted on Hypertile™ tools instead of handing a sheet out to each individual, do them yourself or coordinate with Graphics people for support. If verbal instructions are given, ensure these are either captured in the documentation text or generate an assignment to be included in the text.

The Graphics team handles all Wall scribing (Sketch Hogs), wall mapping, wall copy (including Design Team wall copy if needed). Teach others how to do this to MG Taylor network standards. Generate name tags, break-out area name plates (including an extra set for the report outs held in the Radiant Room), Journal and possibly Work Product Covers, Breakout Book Cover, Module Dividers, Team Instruction/Assignment Headers, wall copy templates, and help with any other templates or Hypertile instructions as needed for the event (coordinate with writing as needed). Ensure a 'Welcome' wall is done if needed.

Once you receive the sponsor meeting documentation and can get a sense of the session and a possible theme, and if you have a desire and time to do it, you may want to prepare as much of this as possible prior to the event so as to avoid a late prep night and also so the Writing Team can have the headers to drop in their instructions/assignments. Even if the theme changes and a new Journal cover is generated later in the week, at least we would have an image to start with. Be ready to give instructions on proper copying methods for Take-A-Panel exercise. Coordinate wall copiers as to priority of areas being copied.

Ensure all graphics generated by the client are either

  • scanned, cleaned up, and dropped in templates,
  • re-created electronically, or
  • scanned - thumbnailed - templated - and properly named according to which documentation process we use (right now I'm assuming it will be the FileMaker one).

Coordinate with the Electronic Production Lead and Documentation Lead as to template format (font, DS title, size, etc.) and ensure everyone working on this effort is using the same template so we don't have to redo things at the 11th hour.

Ensure participant list is kept updated and names spelled correctly. Work with Documentation Team members as to appropriate capture methods (not word-for-word, but real-time synthesis or keywords, etc.) and how to use the new documentation process. Ensure you have enough trained documentors scheduled for each capture session, making sure you have contingencies to relieve members during long sessions to avoid exhaustion and the resulting loss of concentration and quality capture. Do all necessary editing so you can give to Production as quickly and as complete as possible.

The performance specification for the Environment Team is "invitation to work." The space should always be maintained to facilitate the highest productivity of the participants and KreW possible. Ensure markers, wipes, and bottles are kept filled and all are displayed consistently throughout the space. Refresh the environment throughout the event, so that the space never loses a quality of newness and vitality. Ensure there are greeters for the beginning of each day and that they know what and how to do that. Also that someone is at the door at the end of each day to collect name badges. Inventory Hypertile kits and keep them refilled as necessary. Be prepared to hand out Hypertiles, kits, and the "How to Use Your Hypertile" instruction sheet.

Be prepared to reconfigure the space as the number and size of participant teams changes, or as certain exercises or modules create different demands. Coordinate sending participant teams to meals, setting up tables, straightening areas, and bussing tables as needed. Radiant Room chairs are set up and numbers adjusted immediately as participants are added or deleted. Configure the layout in the Radiant Room to support the type of discussion (auditorium, circle, horseshoe, etc.) Set up KreW circle-up chairs before and after each day as needed. Ensure the space is made 'DesignShop ready' again before we vacate the space for the week.

This lead position will be especially important for the FileMaker documentation process. We have never had an official electronic production person; in the past the role has been distributed over several individuals or assumed by someone on an ad-hoc basis. I believe our process now demands it. As the documentation and graphics teams feed you final versions of work, check it for editing and consistency as you compile the electronic Journal real-time. I expect a majority of your time to be spent pulling this together as the event progresses, so we can hopefully avoid a stressful crunch doing this after the event is over.

While the Physical Production Lead will be maintaining the physical (mostly paper) archives of the event, the week's work will also need to be maintained just as accurately electronically. You should setup your 'banker's box' on the computer with appropriate and consistently named folders. This electronic Banker's Box should mirror the physical one as closely as possible. Devise a naming convention and relay this information to all staff members so we can avoid a mish-mash of oddball folders and improperly located documents. Post this information somewhere for everyone to easily reference as needed (on the wall, the computer, or in the event folder somewhere maybe). You may even want to designate a folder on the computer where KreW members may place their completed work ready for your review, and a folder for your final work. Make backups of files several times a day to avoid possible loss of the original.

Coordinate with Documentation and Writing teams to ensure all the 'extras' such as the introduction, table of contents, participant list, appendix, etc. are completed before the end of the event. If we decide we want to include KreW profiles, coordinate that BEFORE everyone is too tired to write one. You should also coordinate with the Video Lead to ensure profile photos are taken if needed.

Also coordinate with the Video Lead to ensure that the computers and cameras are synchronized to time code properly each day for the FileMaker documentation process to work properly. [For more information on this lead, see this article.]

Be fully aware of how to facilitate and support a group's emotional, physical and mental energy by selecting the appropriate music and timing. This includes times when only the KreW is present and working. Maintain a music log using one of the FileMaker databases. The Electronic Production Lead will be your contact for a copy of this database.

One or several cameramen should be recording throughout the event. Many clients like to have short video programs produced that summarize the DesignShop. This requires that we have not only primary video of those reporting, but also reaction shots from the audience, shots of teams at work, and establishing shots to set the stage. Coordinate with the Electronic Production Lead to ensure at the start of each day that the date and time set for each computer matches the time code for the video system in order for the FileMaker database process to work properly.

Because the video system is one of the most technically complex areas that the KreW manages, one of your roles is to thoroughly teach the use of the system to others as your time allows. Transfer of this knowledge is critical to our network, and should be shared as much and as completely as possible to those with a willingness, time, and aptitude for learning it.

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