Raceview Family Campground
The family-owned business, Raceview Family Campground, is facing the challenge of adapting to a changing market. The family agreed to meet with me for a much needed brainstorming session, in order to generate ideas for possible solutions. During this session the participants engaged in constructive lateral thinking exercises, ideation techniques and activites designed to challenge assumptions and bring new ideas to light.
Althought this was not a typical design research project, there was still quite a bit of research involved in preparing for the workshop. First, I had to to research everything I could find about Raceview Family Campground in order to develop a understanding of the business I would be working with. Just to be sure I was "in the loop" I decided to conduct an interview with Linda Gordon, the leader of the business. Her explanations were very helpful in determining what our focus should be for the workshop.
Workshop Planning + Preparation
Planning and Preparation were critical components to designing a successful workshop. In order to organize the process, I created an "Activity Plan" with detailed explanations of each activity and the methodology behind it, as well as speaking notes for facilitators (download available, LEFT). During this phase of the project I also had to research and select the group of participants, ensuring that the team is multi-disciplinary. In addition to preparing materials, I also bought art supplies and building materials for the workshop. Lastly, I reserved a meeting room at a local library to ensure the space would be available and well-prepared for our session.
Linda Gordon, Raceview Family Campground
Part 1: Warm-Up Activity
Using a 3D diorama of a pretend property, participants will use team-building skills, collaboration and building materials to construct solutions to the problems presented. This team-building activity is designed as a lateral thinking approach to quickly generating possible solutions for the issue of the impending highway construction at Raceview Family Campground. However, participants will be able to suggest ideas more freely in a pretend scenario since they won’t be worried about any actual risks that may be involved in a “real life” scenario. Ideally the outcomes of this activity will be applicable to the actual issues of Raceview Family Campground since the scenario shares the same problems and criteria.
Part 2: Rapid Brainstorming
The second phase of the workshop was a straightforward method of generating possible solutions to problems. I first had the group shout out some problems that are affecting Raceview Family Campground's success, while I recorded them on the whiteboard. After we had developed a list of several problems on the whiteboard, I gave each participant a pad of sticky notes and a pen to start brainstorming solutions to the problems they had listed. I chose to have the participants brainstorm individually rather than as a group to avoid "groupthink", and ensure equal participation in the group.
Part 3: Challenging Assumptions
The third activity I chose to do with Raceview Family Campground is a lateral thinking exercise called "Challenging Assumptions". In this activity, the clients shout out statements they believe are true about their business. For example, "The customer brings their own camping supplies". Next, we reverse each statement to make an opposite statement. For example, "The customer does NOT bring their own camping equipment". Lastly, the group brainstorms how the new, "opposite statement" could be made true. For example, if the customer does not bring their own camping equipment, maybe Raceview Family Campground could build cabins or other facilities for rent, or provide a camp store where guests can purchase their camping supplies.
Participant Follow-Up Interviews
After the workshop was complete, I took the time to interview each of the participants individually. In general, they were very pleased with how the workshop went. The only criticisms were that they wished they could have had more time to work on the warm-up activity and that the "Challenging Assumptions" activity was a bit uncomfortable because it was very abstract and "outside of the box". After the workshop, the Raceview Family Campground participants also understood the value of having creative idea generation sessions to visually organize all the ideas they contemplate and casually discuss throughout the year. Linda also mentioned she is interested in possibly working with me on more of a long-term basis to assist them in planning and implements some of their new concepts!
The Raceview Family Campground process book includes a detailed narrative of the process and methodology of the project.
The book also includes observations from the workshop and participant interview transcripts.