Space Saturation and Group


Goal

To get students to get all of their observations and finding from the empathy stage of the process in one place visually.

Duration

5-20 min

Group Size

Small groups 2-5


WHAT is space saturation?

It is the point in the design process where you display all the treasures found during the needfinding part of the process. The idea is to get it all out in the open: write on post-its, tell stories, share artifacts, whatever it takes. Get it out and get visual. Create a space where you are immersed in the observation, artifacts and stories.




Why space saturate and group?

You space saturate to help you unpack thoughts and experiences into tangible and visual pieces of information that you surround yourself with to inform and inspire the design team. You group these findings to explore what themes and patterns emerge, and strive to move toward identifying meaningful needs of people and insights that will inform your design solutions.


How to space saturate and group?

Saturate your wall space (or work boards) with items such as pictures of relevant products, environments, and users you met, and post-its headlining interesting findings (see “Team Share-and-Capture”). In order to begin to synthesize the information, group the post-its and pictures into the areas that the information tends to bunch. You likely have some ideas of the patterns within the data from the unpacking you did to produce the notes. For example, you may have seen and heard many things related to feeling safe, and many things regarding desire for efficiency. Within the group of ‘safety’, go beyond the theme and try to see if there is a deeper connection that may lead to an insight such as “Feeling safe is more about who I am with than where I am." Maybe there is a relation between groups that you realize as you place items in groups – that safety is often at odds with users’ desire for efficiency. Try one set of grouping, discuss (and write down) the findings, and then create a new set of groups.

The end goal is to synthesize data into interesting findings and create insights which will be useful to you in creating design solutions.

It is common to do the grouping with post-its headlining interesting stories from fieldwork. But grouping is also useful to think about similarities among a group of products, objects, or users.


WHY do we teach it?

It is often the case that during the needfinding/empathy-gaining phase of the process, the team members are split up into smaller groups. Space saturation is a good way to get the team back together so that they may share the stories and findings from the field as well as start to build a space where they immerse themselves in the user's world.

You probably do not need months and months of interviewing and observing to have enough data to process. Even after only 2-3 solid days (or 2-3 solid hours) worth of needfinding, there will probably be more than enough data to reflect on. Regularly taking that step of reflecting on all the data and searching for those needs and opportunity gaps will force design teams to take a good educated guess at defining their problem so that they may keep the design process moving and allow time for more iterations.

HOW do we teach it?

It is very important to first designate a 'design space' for the design team. This may be anything from a 3M pad and a rolling white board, to a full-fledged four-walled studio. Teaching space saturation as a synthesis method is useful. The goal is to give teams time to print user photos and observation photos and encourage them to saturate their space with them as well as create text around those photos to start calling out needs.

Sample Lesson:

(Pre-Work: each student should come into this activity having artifacts, stories, quotes, pictures to share. If not, then one way to do this might be to jigsaw activities that will get them bits to add to the conversation. For example, one student from the group might watch a video of an interview on the topic to bring to the group, one might find images, one might call someone related to the topic, etc.)

Introduction:

Model for the students what space saturation looks like - talk about a conversation or what you personally learned about the topic. Post your pictures, quotes, etc. on a team board as you want your students to do. The members of your model group are capturing key elements or what's sticking out to them on post-it notes. They are listening carefully. They ask follow-up questions and post what they are writing on the team board. Say that each member of the group would get a chance to do this before you as a group move on to grouping.

Ask the students to divide into their groups and to start the space saturation. Check in with each group as they get started.

After it seems like most groups are close to finishing their space saturations, ask the groups to pause. Give instructions for grouping:

In grouping you are looking for common or contrasting elements in what you found. What did you find that people have in common? What did you find that was different? What was surprising?

Capture the different groups on post-its and move the post-its to show what fits in each category.

If there are differences, then capture the differences on a spectrum (line).

Ask groups to complete the following sentences as a group:

These things were the same in different people or places:

These things were different for the people or places:

One group we made was about:

One surprise we talked about in doing this activity was:


Group worksheet to use:

Download file "Space_Saturation_Activity.pptx"

ORIGINS:

original text Thomas Both

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