Insights, Ideas and Post-Its!

I wrote about our cognitive mapping, student interviews and the love/break-up letters in an earlier post. These exercises provided us with some very useful insights and a lot of data! I wanted to start thinking about how we transform that data and those insights into tangible idea for changes to both the library building and the services offered therein.

Again, being consistent with my intentions to keep the frontline team involved in the work, I ran two ‘ideation’ workshops with the staff. This was as much of an experiment as anything before running similar workshops with students, but it did keep the front line staff involved, engaged and allowed them to see how the work they began last month forms the foundations of things to come.

Exercise 1

FirstSortI had a group of ten staff members and wanted to start by detailing as may of the insights as possible, some were written down, others were drawn and some were just in the heads of the staff who had been involved.   I started by asking them to spend ten minutes on their own without talking and write as many insights as they could onto post-its and put them onto the wall,  in any order. I was a little nervous about this part of the session because the success of the workshop relied on those insights getting up onto the wall, and there being plenty of them. This however, proved to be successful and I was pleasantly surprised by the both the amount and range of insights.

The next step was to arrange the post-its into themes, and if possible sub themes. The group worked well and produced a well-structured version of the data on the wall. It was interesting to see the type of themes that came out, some expected, others not so much. The themes are listed below:

Workshop 1

  • Resources
    • Electronic
    • Physical
  • Equipment
    • PCs/Laptops
    • Printers
  • Moving around
    • Lifts
    • Stairs
  • Library Space
    • Study areas
    • Ground floor
    • Group learning
    • Teaching rooms
  • Reading Room
    • Negative
    • Positive
  • Service
    • Staff
    • Food & Drink
    • Late night study
  • Café
    • Queues
    • Food options
    • Pro café

Workshop 2

  • Study Spaces
    • PG Lounge
    • Reading Room
    • Silent study
  • Moving around
    • Lifts
    • Signage
    • Turnstiles
  • Resources
    • Finding
    • Availability
  • Food & Drink
    • In the library
    • Café
  • Environment
    • Space
    • Other

Exercise 2

CatogoriesI spit the group into two and asked each to choose a theme, or subtheme with which to work. I then asked them to try and think at a higher level and identify what that theme was really about, what would dealing with issues in that theme fix? Getting the groups to do this was a challenge, particularly in one of the workshops, but we just about got there. I then asked the groups to come up with a ‘How might we?’ question relating to that higher level theme. Once example that came out of the first workshop was ‘How might we make it easier to study in the library for long periods of time?’I thought it was an interesting one to work.

Exercise 3

658The groups had five minutes to come up with six to eight ideas each (without talking) which would help to answer their ‘how might we?’ question. I explained that the ideas needed to be really crazy, really out there. At the end of the five minutes each member of the group explained a little about their ideas and stuck them onto the wall.   We then went through the process again, but team members had five minutes to write six to eight ideas that built on what was already on the wall, again explaining their ideas at the end of the five minutes. We went through this process twice more and at the end came out with a number of tangible ideas, some more large scale than others but all good ideas. I’ll write about these in a later post as things progress.

HowNowWhy2Exercise 4 (HOW? NOW! WOW!)

I asked each group to feedback their ideas and when doing so add post-its to a HOW? NOW! NOW! axis to help us get an idea of which ideas we should focus on. This was really just to demonstrate an example of how ideas might be prioritised.



I explained that we would work with the other themes over the coming weeks and asked if the group saw the benefit in working in this way as opposed to just having an unstructured brainstorming session, the response was a definite yes! Everyone enjoyed the sessions and felt that they got a lot out of them.

The next step will be to run the latter part of the sessions with more staff over the coming weeks, tackling the other themes. At the same time I will run the full sessions with a group of our student volunteers. I hope that the ideas we come out with can be prioritised and taken forward.

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