Collabforge ran a design thinking event in Sydney earlier this year as part of our work with Project Leap. Sparked by Tim Horton’s talk at the event, I found this interesting service in the US that provides a studio space for teams to live and relax in while working on their business or product.

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Based in New York City, Pure House is a for-profit company that rents out apartments to, “Digital Nomads, Creative Misfits, Disruptive Innovators, Social Entrepreneurs and the likes.” Pure House also prides itself on having hosts to cater to teams’ needs and help create the best environment for innovation and collaboration. According to their website, recent companies that have sent teams include Google Loon, Red Bull Music Academy, The Do School and CommuniTgrow.

Well-designed spaces are essential for collaboration, whether they are physical or virtual. While this is something that’s well supported by the literature on collaboration, I really like the way Tim Horton framed it in terms of “the studio environment”:

Because design thinking needs collaboration, you need a place where collaboration can happen. Because design thinking has a practical focus, you need a place to make stuff. Because design thinking is visual, you need a place to hang, stick and post things.

That last point in particular resonates with my own work. As part of Project Leap, we created a new, freely available workshop process called Leap Workshop, in which different innovation teams come together in a shared studio environment at Hub Melbourne to unpack their unique situation and get fresh ideas from outside their business.

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Each Leap Workshop team gets a large white board, a handful of whiteboard markers, and colour-coded paper templates to create a conceptual map of their specific situation. By using a structured approach, it was easier for people from outside their business to ask meaningful questions and provide useful insights. While the language was new, the familiar, tactile format of sticky notes and surfaces meant that participants were able to dive into the process and have a bit of a fun while they were at it.

Overall, recognition of the importance of spaces designed to support collaboration is growing, whether it’s John Hagel’s work on creation spaces, or this recent piece from Google Ventures about the need for a ‘war room’ for your startup.

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