Briefing processes

/ Ana Teresa Cristobal / Creative Workspace

For most of us, the closest experience we have of change - is changing our minds. So what makes us change our minds, is it that we find ourselves doing things the same way, is it that we feel too comfortable and safe or is it just a niggle that makes us feel uneasy. And then you make a change and suddenly you ask yourself why you hadn't done it before. Most of the time we do this within ourselves but sometimes we seek advice from a partner or friend.

If it is difficult to face change as an individual, then imagine how difficult it is when you get together with others. Groups of people and organisations, like individuals can face the same issue of feeling that they have become stuck in their thinking and need some help in developing their collective reasoning for making changes.

In this context we have been exploring briefing processes which can assist clients to identify where change is required and provide the tools to show the impact that this might have on the experience of the building user. What we have found is the questions need to be bespoke however there are some broad principles and tools we have developed.

The first group deals with client mental sensibilities primarily in word form, amongst which we have our ‘linear balance’ exercise - quite simply a graduated scale linking where you are and where you would like to be. Our ‘inflating balloon’ measure where we we try to show the growth potential of a linked set of strategies. And our ‘swing chart’ based on quadrants around an ‘xy’ axis seeking to identify the inclinations of a group.

Our second group moves towards the visual and tactile, each more exciting than the next. A straight forward exercise ‘pretty pictures’ stimulating debate and a movement towards the visual. ‘Pictogram planning’ which uses icons; bombs, crosses, stars, dotted lines and arrows to succinctly stimulate intuitive and clear responses. And most fun our ‘masking tape acting spaces’ where spaces are marked out on the floor to be imagined as built and used.

Whilst we say the process is about clients becoming enlightened as to their potential, actually the exercises are there to help us respond more creatively to their needs. Our role is to support change through building closely to what our clients dream.