Beyond Location: Factor 2

Foster Flow

Factors that keep your offsite on-target

By: OCAD U CO

If you’re in charge of planning your team’s offsite, then I’ve got news for you: you work in experience design. Selecting the right space for your team’s offsite is step one in designing the optimal experience to get to the best outcomes for your organization. Here we offer four critical factors to think about—Focus, Flow, Fresh & Fun—to design an offsite experience that will help ensure success.

In this article we’ll look at how we can foster flow when designing an optimal offsite experience.

Factor 2:

Foster Flow

Design-led work is dynamic. Just as you start to get comfortable with one stage of the work, the work changes—yesterday’s outputs become today’s inputs and away we go again. You might say that iteration and elaboration are the constant elements of good design work. As a result, work in innovation and strategy efforts typically demands a good deal of stage management: the purposeful flow from plenary presentations to the wall-paper of post-its to producing prototypes. In turn, the offsite space you choose should be adaptable, it should be designed to dynamically change as needs change.

It should foster flow.

“Look for a business studio that facilitates the flow of your agenda as your team shifts from active listening to team-based collaboration and from engaging share-outs to next-step planning. ”

Effectively, the offsite space you choose should be a blank slate that you can reconfigure as you move through the stages from design and discovery to development and delivery. In an earlier time, we’d have called this a studio space, and we can still call it that today: choose a business studio, a space that doesn’t get in the way but instead can be adapted fully to your training, design thinking or strategy needs.

While a prestigious or cool hotel conference room may lend an element of style or inspire your teams on arrival, by the end of a three-day session they may only remember the spotty internet service, fuzzy wallpaper that wouldn’t hold a sticky note and low-level lighting that, while romantic, isn’t conducive to the organizational demands of your offsite objectives.

Look for a business studio that facilitates the flow of your agenda as your team shifts from active listening to team-based collaboration and from engaging share-outs to next-step planning. There are a lot of tools that you’ll need to use well and a facility that supports the flex and flow of all your efforts is one basic tool that you’ll want to get right to maintain the energy and pace that’s the executive equivalent of back-to-back-to-back triathlons.

Teams can survive a space without flow but very few thrive. Aim to thrive. Foster flow.

That way, when you get back to the grind you’ve left behind you’ll have reduced the friction to maintain momentum to implement the initiatives with the clarity, cadence, and control that flow can bring. Don’t let the friction of a low-flow workshop derail your momentum.

OCAD U CO Innovation workshops

What Flow looks like in action:

A senior, cross-functional team with a global leader in apparel chose our studio to create the future of outerwear. They spent a number days aligning on strategy, engaging with users and extreme users, generating human-centric insights, ideating, storyboarding, prototyping, and iterating on numerous elements of design as well as on business models. With each transformative activity and shift, they were able to maintain focus through flow. As one team member put it, “a lot of our success for this journey comes down to the fact that we navigated every bend in the river without losing anyone or any of our best ideas—by the end we emerged as a team, more aligned, inspired and invested to succeed than we had imagined possible. The difference between where we started and where we arrived is that we can see the future from here.”

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