Presented by Kevin M. Hoffman.

NIH looked at how well different teams across disciplines were collaborating. The study found that one key predictor of the success of a team regardless of size, proximity, etc.: Meetings. The more meetings they had, the better the team worked together to better results.

People are more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. – Marissa Mayer


File Sharing and Repositories are not collaboration.

  • These systems do what email used to do a terrible job of doing and content management systems did an okay job of. They improve workflow.

Collaboration happens when the whole is greater than the sum.

  • Real-time meetings can lead to collaboration. But how do we make meetings more productive?


  • A means of getting everyone’s perspectives out of their brains and into a design.
  • Anyone adding value is collaboration.

Design the Meeting

We designed our time together to accomplish really specific goals.

  • Are decisions needed? Yes? Have a meeting! No? No meeting.
  • Only meet when a decision need to be made.
  • Before the meeting, list out all the decisions that need to be made. Then, identify the owner of those decisions.

Great meetings start with clear objectives.

  • Plan meetings around decisions that need to be made, not around people.
  • Drive meetings toward decision points.
  • Every meeting should open with some kind of divergent thinking and close with convergent thinking.
  • Brainstorming is divergent thinking without convergent thinking.

Two ways to design meetings:

  1. Plan outcomes.
  2. Give room for ideas to breathe.

Provide Access to the Process

  • Build a working prototype to keep the client engaged throughout the design process.
  • Use a facilitator to keep the meeting neutral. This person does not contribute or evaluate, but helps bring people and ideas together.
  • The facilitator should have sufficient domain knowledge including technology, content, workflow, and culture. Also conducts one-on-one interviews before the meeting.

Stop using meetings (e.g. kickoff meetings) for research.

  • Stakeholder and user interviews are a great way to do research ahead of kickoff meetings. This research facilitates a productive conversation.
  • The Pen Is Mightier Than The Keyboard – study on the advantage of longhand notes over laptop note-taking.
  • Create a visual agenda on a giant, single sheet of paper.
  • Introduce public recording to meetings. Areas in the meeting space where sketching and other visual engagement can happen.

Critical ideas are lost if you don’t engage visually.

  • Visually represent the agenda, conflicts, and key decisions. These are the visuals that get you to the testable thing.

Two ways to provide access to process:

  • Neutral, informed facilitation.
  • Use visuals for agendas, conflicts, decisions, and concepts.

Be transparent about the risks we’re taking and the outcomes we get from those risks.

  • Haverford College’s experimentation with their primary navigation. Removed “Athletics” for five days and users were able to better-find athletics-related content coming from search.

Shorter and measurable experiments focus on results.

  • It’s more powerful and more influential when you share information between teams. Teams become more influential because they can help more people.

Sharing is influence.

Two aspects to transparency:

  • Focuses interest on the job at hand.
  • Changes internal culture.

Three Building Blocks of Co-Design

  • Design meetings.
  • Provide access to projects. Bring stakeholders in early before you spend too much time on anything.
  • Be transparent about risks and outcomes.

You are a guide for doing this better.