Gallery walk

To generate creative ideas you first need to collect ‘rough material’. Information, insights and inspiration are important input you can use as ‘building blocks’ to develop novel ideas. Gathering (background) information can take up a lot of time, and can lead to overwhelming amounts of data. The main question is always: what to keep and what to ignore. ‘Gallery walk’ and ‘heat mapping’ are great tools to find the right information, and to choose the best ideas.

If you are working with a team, you can use the following two methods to swiftly explore a lot of content. Both techniques are especially useful when you want to rapidly evaluate ideas, or when you want to dive deeper into your challenge before starting your brainstorm.

Gallery walk
An elegant way to quickly present ideas and information, is by displaying all the material on the walls, similar to how museums present their collection. Aligned next to each other like pieces of art.

Exploring the information and finding the most valuable ideas becomes a walk in the park. Your team only needs to stroll past the ‘gallery pieces’ to discover interesting input for the challenge at hand.

Make sure that the information is clear and self explanatory. Put some attention to the copy, and try to throw in some clarifying images. Keep it short and keep it simple.

Important details should definitely be added, yet you should avoid including too much text. You can compare the gallery walk to gathering knowledge by scanning newspaper headlines. (e.g. if a journalist would write an article about this, how would he explain it to his audience? What would be the headline above the article?)

Give your team members some time to go through the material. The ‘gallery walk’ should be done in silence and individually.

Gallery tour
If there is a lot of information you want to share, or if there are a lot of technical details that you want to cover, it can be interesting to guide your team members past the gallery pieces.

You can do this by creating small groups and having a ‘tour guide’. You could also select a few specialists to give short presentations, while standing beside the gallery pieces.

Heat mapping
After the ‘gallery walk’ it’s time to take a step back and to take a look at the bigger picture. A magnificent method to discover the most valuable pieces of information is ‘heat mapping’. It allows you and your team to filter and highlight the most interesting key points within minutes.

Before the gallery walk begins, hand each participant a bunch of small dot stickers. It can be any colour you like, as long as it is clearly visible from a distance. We prefer bright red, or bright green. Each participant gets the same amount of stickers.

Ask the participants to put stickers on the pieces of information they find the most interesting (5 – 10 minutes). Stickers may be placed on details, or on entire ‘gallery pieces’. It’s also allowed to put more stickers on a single item, or to put them on your own ideas.

When the participants are done placing stickers, the most valuable pieces of information will clearly stand out from the rest.

A facilitator can point out the pieces that have accumulated multiple stickers at one place. He or she can ask the participants who put their stickers there to explain why they find it interesting.

Heat mapping helps to focus the attention of the group. It can prevent endless discussions and it saves precious time.

Could you use a gallery walk and a bit of heat mapping for your next team challenge?


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