Sometimes you just need to take over a room, sprawl out all your shit (and by “shit” I mean tons of prints outs, whiteboard markers, pens, tape, push pins, snacks, drinks, dogs, etc) just to get yourself focused in on the large challenge at hand. It surprisingly gets you motivated in an indescribable way and tunnels you in, eliminating the other normal day-to-day distractions.
In the latest situation, the project was challenging enough but then myself and the lead designer both were sick at the beginning of the creative concept sprint, and of course our deadlines were really tight and not moveable. So at the beginning of the next week, we checked out were we were and I got a little freaked out knowing how much work still needed to be done to really impress the hell out of this new client. I took some deep breaths and said, do what you need in the next 30 min in order for us to take over conference room 2 for war room madness the rest of the day. We printed out client branding examples, video stills from the best client vids, conceptual research of bad ass interface and UI graphics, site maps, and project wireframes. The room was beautifully littered with shit all over the walls and table for us to start our work session.
I think madness is key, as it helps you hone in on your messy situation and then your mind can’t even fathom other normal distractions; like email, text messages, other employees dumb chatter, etc. I usually like to start scribbling over the print outs, using like a red whiteboard marker to circle/asterisk elements on the print outs that we liked and want to pursue. Then you freestyle the hell out of your whiteboards (did I mention you HAVE to have a whiteboard in your war room?… cuz that is a must) and be sure to snap pics of your progress at certain points because you will erase it randomly in the heat of the moment.
Then get some outside opinions. Don’t just keep your ideas within your small group, and I’ve seen some heated debates fester in that little space which is usually getting hot and smelly. Take a break, stretch, go find and call in an outsider to gauge your progress down your solution path. See if there’s other random ideas the pop up. I’ve noticed people like to be invited in, checking out your Ray Finkle style room of horror, and provide helpful spitballing. Try it out and see.