Build A Model

Posted on by Brandon Klein

This is the generic form of a majority of DesignTeam assignments. Each team is assigned to build a model that clarifies some process or system or part of a system related to the issues to be addressed in the DesignShop, and list out their assumptions, design choices, preferred outcomes, et cetera. This is a basic principle (perhaps an axiom): facilitation means helping people build useful models (concepts, plans, et cetera) and act in a self-aware manner about it — so that they know they’re building models (e.g., their predictions about the world aren’t “reality”) and they know the limits of their models (the map is not the terrain). By taking participants through various cycles of building models, and naming the usefulness and limits of each model, participants gain awareness and greater flexibility in their use of models (ideas, ideals, values and other mental models, as well as plans, organizational structures, et cetera).

To build context; to make the boundaries of thought more explicit; to organize the thoughts of a group in a more self-aware way; to build patterns of understanding that are internally consistent and can be integrated into meaningful “wholes.”

Assigning participants to build models (consistent with their phase of the creative process) is almost always appropriate. Timing and time requirements vary widely. DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS: Strengths — Allows teams to look at an issue without all of the complexity (and mental baggage) surrounding the original problem. Forces teams to define boundaries and assumptions in their thinking. Allows systematic exploration of an issue. Weaknesses — Does not, by itself, guarantee new insights or require participants to use a different vantage point. Sometimes reinforces and legitimizes existing perceptions. Analysis may dominate. Specifications for Success — Primarily, the basics: Choose teams well; hone your team assignments to challenge and engage the participants; introduce the right information that can spark new ideas and new approaches; and encourage participants to ask, ‘what if... this or that assumption is no longer valid?’

• Build a model of your current conditions
• Build a model of your preferred end state
• Build a model of your organization
• Build a model of your industry
• Sketch, draw, diagram, flow chart, ....
• Create a spread sheet, electronic simulation (e.g., I think software)
• Build a physical model of.... See “Build a Model (Using Legos, toy blocks, et cetera)” 

See also: Model Shop or Scenarios