I’ve been facilitating design studios with collocated teams for years. Many, including me, have covered the benefits of collaboratively sketching new ideas and concepts with a cross-functional team. Recently though, I was tasked with bringing this exercise to a distributed team. With the product and user experience team in New York and the development team in Vancouver, it proved to be an interesting challenge. What follows is a play-by-play of how we set up the exercise and executed as well as an analysis of the successes and failures of this first attempt. It’s worth noting that this was the team’s first design studio ever – which added another layer of complexity to the event.
We gave the teams a brief heads up of what was going to happen and asked everyone to come to their individual conference rooms with their own laptops. Each conference room had a Mac in it with a location-specific Skype account (i.e., it wasn’t a specific individual’s account – it was the “office” account). The two offices connected to each other via their office Skype accounts so that we could see each other as a group. This was critical as it was the closest we could get to physically being in the same room.