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Agile Scramble - getting to design solutions fast

Ever had a creative project where you need a solution fast? In this post I'll show you a process which can help your team to collaborate and align to create positioning, messaging and visuals at super-sonic speed.

In golf, there is a game called "Texas Scramble". Two or more players form a team. Each player hits a tee shot on each hole, but everyone in the team plays from their next shot from the place of the best shot. As a team they get close to the hole, minimising mistakes and working together.

I have used this "Scramble" technique with creative teams to get them close to the end result for years. In effect, it becomes the basis of a "design sprint" which quickly eradicates ideas which are not working and helps teams focus on ideas that are.

I've found this powerful and agile way of working creates a great team environment, does not rely on one person, can improve the creativity of less experienced members of the team, can speed up the creative process, minimises mistakes and can produce brilliant end results.

Source: Unsplash. Credit: Courtney Prather

Here's how it works:

1. Briefing

It is crucial that a good brief, filled with purpose has been obtained. Who is the audience? What is the end goal? What is the story this piece of creativity needs to communicate? How will this concept be used? The more information the better.

Appoint a creative leader to facilitate discussions and keep order through the process.

Once the information has been obtained and a creative leader appointed, assemble your team - I would suggest away from desks, in a breakout area or meeting room.

The creative leader should then lead the briefing ensuring a clear destination for the process is defined. For example:

"Our idea must communicate the concept of how the product has the power of transforming our audience's lives. Our audience are Mothers with two or more children who have the following pain points... "

2. Research & Moodboards

In this stage, the group goes away (Scrambles) for a set amount of time. Their mission is to research other places where this type of message has been communicated. In our example, they might like to focus on different themes of the communication we are seeking to achieve, like "transformation" or "power". They must glean visuals, sketches and ideas from anywhere they can - museums, books, magazines, sketch pads, scrapbooks and, of course, the internet. Notice I have put the internet last - I often find sending teams off into a city or giving them some space outside of a desk can produce interesting results!

Towards the end of the set time, each team member must group their findings and produce 3 mood-boards.

When the group comes together these are presented and discussed.

The creative lead should then select 3 or 4 ideas which the group feel are most 'on brief'.

Like in Texas Scramble the team go again and focus in on these selected ideas getting everyone nearer the end goal.

3. Concept refinement

Now it is up to each person in the group to 'scramble' and better refine and develop each of the 4 ideas within a set time. Designers would begin to think about how each of the 4 ideas could begin to actually work. Copywriters might begin to work on tag lines for each idea. Everyone takes personal responsibility adopting the 4 ideas and running with them.

Again when the group reassembles each idea is presented. Here a concept or a couple of concepts might be selected to complete final development on. These concepts should now be very close to fulfilling the challenge of the original brief.

4. Final Concept Refinement

Further refinement is then completed by the team on the concept. At this stage it should be being polished, systems of usage should be being considered. Photoshoots might be taking place or final illustrations are drawn up. Copy can begin to be written.

As this progresses it is always an idea to define the rules by which the idea and style is being executed. These operate as a consistency guide for the team.

5. Final concept

At the end of the process a final, shiny concept emerges. Depending on the desired output set at the start this end concept would vary in terms of how it is delivered and what it is.

Typically speaking the end result would be a visual system which communicates a message using text and visuals.

The concept funnel

This process can be illustrated in the above "concept funnel". It is essential though that the original brief is clear and effective - what you put in highly affects what comes out!

It might be also worth noting that stakeholders outside of the creative team (e.g. marketing, product managers, clients - or even customers etc.) can be included throughout or in the team huddles/meet-ups at the end of each stage to select what goes through to the next. This allows for a wider buy-in that can contribute to the adoption of the final concept.

Process Benefits:

  • Everyone in the team feels involved

  • Minimise mistakes

  • It is fun and competitive

  • It does not rely on one person

  • Speeds up the creative process

  • Improves the creativity of less experienced members of the team

So - I hope you have found this useful. Keep coming back from more creative tools and brand methodology.

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