Collaborative Ideation and Design Brief

Design thinking is best effected as a team activity and building the team is valuable (Eden, Elliott, Matzke, & Wu, p. 3). Sharing immersion notes with two Teacher-Librarian colleagues, and considering the observations recorded to date, has enabled identification of a couple of “rich seams” waiting for further investigation and ultimately improvement. The observations have been translated into insights, then into alterations and services and thence to the following design brief (Brown T. K., 2011, p. 382).Pilloton describes a ready (context) set (toolbox) go (actions) style of design brief  (Pilloton, 2009, pp. 11-12).

the context in which the brief is set
the context in which the brief is set

Ready – Context:

A more user-centric physical environment is required. Things requiring adjustment relate to replacing the old-fashioned layout and styles of seating and work space and addressing a lack of possession storage available to students.


the tool box applied to the context
the tool box applied to the context

Set: the toolbox:

To ascertain a design brief it has been important to experience the physical space through the eyes of the students, teachers and parents who access our building.  Unlike the example of crawling under tables to see a child’s eye view (Bennett, 2007), a range of methods has been applied to the task, commencing with an observation . Using discussion, usually with small groups and individuals, as well as ideating with my CSU team members, there has been an attempt to ascertain what needs to occur, as well as tapping into co-creation processes (McIntosh & O’Connell, 2014).

As our Library does not operate in isolation of other services and environments, members of the Library team have spent time walking through the two newest buildings on our campus. Positive notes reflect colour schemes, some of the furnishings, and the degree of natural light in these newer buildings. Comparing our forty plus year-old surroundings has led to a degree of envy, a list of aspirations, and noting short comings that would need to be avoided when our planned renovation and extension is designed.

Within the constraints of budget, staffing and building, the four rules of designing have been considered: human, ambiguity, re-design and tangible (McIntosh & O’Connell, 2014).

“How Might We” (HMW) questions were applied: (Method Card: How Might We Questions).HMW make immediate change to  improve engagement?

HMW raise curiousity?

HMW stay within the financial constraints?

Ways researched for this design brief
Ways researched for this design brief













Conclusions acknowledged that some alterations can be effected now with little cost, and several of these have been implemented already as can be seen at  Change must result in improvement of teaching and learning outcomes similar to that described by 360 Steelcase in their white paper on engagement in new classroom settings (360 Degrees, n.d)

Comparing new spaces to old in terms of engagement by stakeholders
Comparing new spaces to old in terms of engagement by stakeholders


Source: (360 Degrees, p. 4)

actionable tactics
actionable tactics

Go – actions:

Steelcase offers a range of furniture solutions allowing for flexibility. Their Node furnishings, as shown in the image below centre, seem to offer much,including somewhere for the problematic possessions bags, which students sometimes need to bring with them (360 Degrees, n.d). The cost of this specific furniture currently prohibitive.

Chair, desk and bag storage all in one!
Chair, desk and bag storage all in one!



This is what needs to be done first


Low cost measures have been implemented involving:

Purchasing “ghost stools” from Aldi.

Repurposing a bench table by adding 300mm to its height to suit the stools. (This releases the foyer for bag racks, which can be built on site).

Moving tables to a combination of clusters, individual and communal spaces.

Swapping a block shelf that was used for reference material with 5 spinners that housed biographies  – freeing up floor space.

While most of the consideration to date has related to physical spaces, there is also a need for the virtual spaces set up by as part of our information services, as this is one way of supporting all stakeholders anywhere and anytime. Prototyping for service solutions, which rely on more complex social interactions, is far more difficult (Brown T. , 2009, p. 98). Iterations have the advantage of zero budget implications (Brown T. , 2009, p. 99).

At times the volumes of necessary changes seem overwhelming but one just needs to stop and consider the potential of our students to become passionate learners through the avenues we create for them as part of their educational journey (Ripp, 2014, p. 118).


360 Degrees.   (n.d.). How classroom Design Affects Student Engagement: Active learning   Post-Occupancy Engagement. White Paper. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from

Bennett, P.   (2007, May 16). Design is in the Details. Retrieved August 9, 2014, from

Brown, T. (2009).   Change by Design How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires   Innovation. New York: Harper Collins.

Brown, T. K.   (2011). Change by Design. Journal Of Product Innovation Management,(28(3),   ), 381-383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x

Eden, W.,   Elliott, A., Matzke, J., & Wu, J. (n.d.). School design With design   thinking: Aplha Cindy Avitia High School. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from

McIntosh, E.,   & O’Connell, J. (2014). Design Thinking Process [module 3.5]. Retrieved   August 9, 2014, from

Method Card: How   Might We Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2014, from Design School   Stanford:

Pilloton, E. (2009). Design Revolution:100 Products That Empower People. New York: Metropolis Books.

Ripp, P. (2014). Passionate   Learners: Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Learners . Virginia Beach   Powerful Learning Press.

Vision Statement: A Taxonomy of Innovation . (2014, January). Retrieved from Harvard Business Review:



Ideation team: Sara Rapp and Helen Stower

Library Team

     Staff: Sue Smith and Erica James

    Teachers: Belinda Nichols and Neil MacLean

     Student: Krystal Parrish

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2 thoughts on “Collaborative Ideation and Design Brief

  1. Jim Thomas


    Well done with the embedded graphics and references. Also, I really liked the Steelcase node furniture, specially the chairs with the built in storage space under the chair.

    Your efforts to work together with people outside the library sounds like a good strategy. As Kumar points out in 101 Design Methods, innovation is a collaborative process and people with competencies in different fields need to come together to make the process thorough, inclusive, and valuable.




  2. msimkin

    Thanks Jim. The chairs are very expensive but I haven’t given up hope of finding something along those lines somewhere. Taking the concepts outside the library is critical when the Library team is small and the “user” team is big!


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