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Idea Generation? Try Collaborative Sketching!

A brainstorming and concept ideation technique

· Design Innovation

What is Collaborative Sketching?

Collaborative sketching, or C-sketch is a design method teams use to generate and build upon the ideas that team members have.

Who uses it?

This activity should be done in groups of 3 to 8 people, optimally 5 to 6 in a group. It works best for teams that are trying to design solutions to defined problems or opportunity statements. It can also be done as a quick brainstorming warm up with a quirky challenge statement.

how to do collaborative sketching

When to use it?

Most commonly used in the Develop phase, where divergence begins. This activity is typically done after the team has listed out functions through the Functional Analysis or through Morph Matrix. They are able to combine elements and functions discussed into distinctly different design concepts to be built upon.

double diamond design framework

Where do we conduct this?

Team meetings

A meeting room with sufficient tables and chairs to accommodate 5-6 people per group. Bring a bluetooth speaker to play music if the room does not have an audio system. It helps to liven up the mood and get people to be more creative and at ease. It is important to have right materials before you start the activity.

Workshops, seminars, or conferences

A large seminar room or hall with audio and visual system. This can be done in a large group setting with over 80 participants. The same rules apply, ensure everyone has sufficient space to sketch. A tip is to prepare and distribute the materials in advance so everyone can jump right into it. A shortened version of the Collaborative sketching can also be done online in order to retain attention of large groups.

How does it work?

In-person Meeting

Time taken: 1 Hour

Materials: A4/A3 Paper, Markers of different colours

  1. Provide each member with a different coloured pen and a paper.
  2. Each member writes their opportunity statement on an A3 paper and places it in the middle of the table.
  3. Each member takes an A4 paper and a unique coloured marker.
  4. Each person will divide the paper into 3 segments.
  5. Choose a music playlist and play it aloud. Set a timer for 10 minutes and ensure that everyone can refer to it, if not provide audio cues on how much time is left.
  6. In 10 minutes, each member has to sketch 3 drastically distinct ideas in each segment of the paper. 
  7. Once 10 minutes is up, everyone will pass their paper to the person on their left and build upon the ideas they receive.
  8. Allocate 5 to 10 minutes for each swap. Strictly no talking! Repeat till each member gets back their own paper. 
  9. Begin the discussion by getting everyone to share their ideas with one another. 
  10. Analyse the pros and cons of each idea. Identify opportunities for synthesis and vote for the top few ideas to develop in the next stage of the design process.
collaborative sketching how it works

Remote Meeting

Time taken: 30 Minutes

Material: Mobile devices or computers with internet connection

  1. Sign Up or Log in on 
  1. Create a custom challenge. 
  2. Input your opportunity statement. 
  3. Share your screen to show participants the instructions and share the link and wait for at least 7 players to join.
  4. Start the game.
  5. Review all the ideas.
rapid ideation platform

Why should you use Collaborative sketching?

Most people are often more comfortable explaining their ideas in words. Collaborative sketching forces members to ideate and express themselves visually through sketches.

During Collaborative sketching, team members are asked to elevate ideas drawn by their team mates without judgements and constraints. It encourages push the limits of an idea made by an individual and witness how the ideas and concepts evolve by working with people who have different perspectives.

Most importantly, every member will also contribute to each and every idea so that there is equal ownership of each idea. This teaches teams the importance of collaboration.

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