“First seek to understand and then to be understood.” - Steven Covey

Design studio is a workshop exercise meant to serve as a fast-paced team collaboration brainstorming session. It gives an opportunity to invite other members outside the design team such as clients, subject matter experts, engineers, and project managers to gain insight on product ideas.

Why use this exercise?

Inviting people from diverse backgrounds gives the team a variety of business, product, and engineering perspectives that help quickly identify the user’s needs and possible constraints. One way to guide the workshop is by writing up a short brief about your design project so that the team may help you find these areas:

  • Who are you designing for?
  • What is the situation or context you’re designing for?
  • What industry guidelines should you consider while designing?
  • Are there known business requirements?

While writing the short brief you should describe the workshop activities per session. This will involve Sharpie markers for paper and dry-erase markers for white boards.

A great way to time box the sketching is using the Crazy Eights method.

  • Give each person a 11 x 17 sheet of paper with 8 boxes.
  • Set a timer for 8 minutes.
  • Ask the team to fill all boxes with idea sketches in 8 minutes.
  • Pencils down when timer goes off.
  • Ask everyone to tape up their sketches and do a quick presentation of their 2 top ideas.
  • Give everyone stickers or post-its and ask them to go around and vote for their favorite ideas.

Check out this Udacity Crazy 8s video for tips on how to facilitate this exercise.

Our approach

We remind the team that there are no restrictions on ideas as long as they keep the end-user and business objectives in mind. Also, this exercise is not used to find the next Michelangelo, all sketches are valuable. A main reason to use non-fine point markers is so that when sketching, no one gets fixated on the detail of the sketch, but rather the idea being presented.

How long does this take?

Six timeboxed sessions that run “5-10 min max” or you can do multiple rounds of “Crazy 8’s”.


A fast, diverse perspective and ideas on your new product. This exercise is meant to focus on quantity of ideas versus the quality. Once the top ideas have been discussed and narrowed or combined the product should have a direction.