Running a successful design team off-site.

The Practice Fusion design team spent a day working, hiking, and sharing ideas to kick off a 2016 Design Vision initiative. A great location, a beautiful day, and a group of creative minds — the perfect recipe for a great offsite. Here’s how it went down.

8:45–9:15: Set-up & Breakfast

The team arrived fired up and ready to go. Coffee and bagels courtesy of Kenji.

9:30–9:40: Warm-up activity

We ran through 3 Improv warm-ups to prime the group for collaboration and brainstorming: Invisible ball, Numbers, and ‘Yes, and.’

9:40–9:45: Introduction

Laurel shared some inspiring words about our focus for the day, the schedule, and guidelines for having fun and ideating.

9:45–10:20: ‘Design something terrible’ game

Our design principles are Simple, Focused, Trusted. Killian led an exercise to design a medical office check-in system that is the exact opposite of our principles. The results were interesting, to say the least.

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10:20–11:50: Inspiration share Part 1

In this exercise, led by Patrick and Grace, the designers were asked to select and present examples of successful product design. We looked at a wide range of concepts, from Japanese design systems, to QuickBooks’ navigation, to animations.

11:50–12:00: Break

12–12:30: Inspiration share Part 2

In Part 2 of this exercise, we continued looking at inspirational design examples. The designers first explained why their examples were successful, and then we opened it up to general discussion.

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12:30–1: Lunch

1–1:30: Walk

Rewarded with clear, blue skies, the team ventured down a trail to take in the California Coast after lunch.

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1:30–2:15: Company engagement brainstorm Part 1

In Part 1 of this activity, led by Laurel and Kenji, the group shared impactful group experiences, and identified themes that made these communities successful.

2:15–2:25: Break

2:25–3:25: Company engagement brainstorm Part 2

For Part 2, we brought the discussion back to our goals for growing Design Thinking at Practice Fusion. Utilizing these successful themes, each small group created a company-wide activity that incorporated one theme. Then ideas were swapped and we had to build on another team’s activity with our theme.

3:25–3:35: Break

3:35–4: ‘Pimp your ride’ design exercise

Next up Jenni gave us a magic wand (a blank piece of paper) and asked us to design the ideal vehicle for own needs. It’s clear, self-flying, masseuse-carrying, infinitely-resizable transportation is the future.

4–4:20: Mind map review and wrap-up

Throughout the day we logged our thoughts and observations on large sheets of paper. These ‘mind maps’ served as a free-form journal, and at the end of the day we put them all up on a wall to review what we had accomplished.

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4:20–5: Hike

One more walk to the beach to end a productive, fun offsite. We got a lot done during the day, enjoyed some of our beautiful coastal scenery, and came closer together as a team.

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