The difficulty of being earnest
When we started with the idea of Project Kish, we were enthralled by the blank canvas we had and the work that we could do in this regard. But as we went along, we quickly realized that an idea so radical needed a radical solutioning approach.
Where a captive designer would give us her best ideas, we wanted to multiply the probability of getting effective solutions. The objective would then be to open up the problem statement to a community of designers.
The best way to sustain the project was to create it into an open source movement that could bring a larger community together, that could in turn, share and collaborate on their ideas and approaches in creating an easier communication for contracts.
However, this was easier said than done.
We were aware that despite our best intentions behind choosing the more challenging manner of addressing the problem statement, we would have to brace ourselves for the difficult road ahead. Inherently, the idea and what we were trying to achieve was an effective rallying call and got on board several designers. But the problems of open collaboration soon emerged.
Engaging a large community is an age old problem, plaguing everyone from government to companies to college group projects! Each have differed in their manner of solutioning, but have hoped to keep the group aligned by setting out a common cause, and in clarifying a well intentioned agenda. In the case of Project Kish, the agenda was clear and effective. A cause that most were able to immediately empathise with and engage on at a rational level.
However, while several designers signed on for the process and were excited to work, unfortunately that excitement didn’t necessarily translate into creating prototypes and creating prototypes within the time period.
Several open source movements have faced similar challenges and our learnings told us of ways in which to deal with the problems of motivation and consistency of managing larger open communities. Two design sprints later, we are still working on the most effective manner of engaging and sustaining the motivation and communication of a large community.
Successful open source movements like Linux or even the Noun Project have got to the place they are in with substantial effort and multiple failed pancakes. I don’t anticipate the road ahead to be easy or not plagued with failure. But I do inherently believe that this is a cause that warrants this road and needs the journey to outlive my patience.
For our next sprint, we are working on creating better communication platforms, by way of our website, video interactions and multi- disciplinary participants. By ensuring that every participant feels the support and participation of a community, we hope that each one feels tuned into the problem and the solution creation.
The success of this approach cannot be gauged by the metric of one design sprint or the next but rather in the ability of this approach to sustain in the long run and be relevant to future participants.
Only time will tell! But until then, the importance of being earnest in our approach remains.