This week Maria and I were invited to take part in a workshop run by Ola Möller, creator of MethodKit. Ola was in Brazil running a number of workshops in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba and Florianopolis, in partnership with Genau Lopes Junior, CEO and founder of Joox, an extremely creative and innovative card printing company. Ola had invited us to review the new decks available, explore ways in which they could be put into practice, and also co-create ideas for future kits.
Not only are MethodKits now available in Portuguese, but they are now manufactured and delivered in Brazil, reducing costs, delivery times and of course air miles. MethodKit have also launched a new Portuguese language website which you can see here: http://br.methodkit.com. Note that the kits themselves are currently available to purchase on pre-order, and ship early December.
I have previously written about MethodKit in an article about the relationship between game playing storytelling (see Star Wars and the Intersection of Game Play with Storytelling – Changing Our Collective Stories). MethodKits consist of different sets of card packs which come in both large and small formats. At present there are five different kits available – Projects, Personal Development, Web Development, App Development and Start-Ups. MethodKits are very much tools rather than a methodology as the name may suggest, and can be used in many creative and flexible ways when thinking about projects, ideation, business model development, alignment and dialogue, just to name a few examples.
In this particular workshop there were participants with a wide range of very creative backgrounds. As someone with a background in innovation, one thing it is possible to observe is that highly creative people do not react well to high prescribed structure, rules and procedures. However, too little structure will not lead to creative ideas reaching the implementation stage, and so MethodKits work well in terms of leading an individual, or more importantly a small team towards considering a much wider range of variables which may previously have been left unexamined.
In this workshop, after an introduction from Ola, we split into four groups with the objective of creating a fictional start-up. In fact, for the group of three in which Maria and I were, we began to examine a real life case study which our fellow participant was beginning to examine. One thing that was clear to me early on in our discussion of the proposition of the start-up was how there seemed to be a different idea as to exactly what this company was and what it was going to do. This is one of the key values of working with these types of cards, as words by their very nature, in order to allow creative in language, have to be ambiguous. Sometimes when working with dialogue, it is necessary to take people through a learning journey, so that they can monitor their own thinking a little more clearly, and learn to recognise themselves where potential mis-communications can arise.
(I don’t want to repeat myself from another article, but those who are interested in this particular subject should look at my article The Expression of Phenomenology in Business).
It is interesting to consider the way in which MethodKit can work alongside Business Model Canvas. Again, if you are not familiar with the concept of the Business Model Canvas, I have previously reviewed the book Business Model Generation in which Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur describe what it is and how it works (Book Review: Business Model Generation). One of the key strengths of Business Model Canvas is that it can give everyone in a business or organisation a simplified overview of what a business does. However, as I note in my article, this is not the only conception of how a business canvas can be created, and so using MethodKit allows users to create either alternative or multiple views on a business model, allowing both more degrees of freedom and also creative insights.
After all the groups had spent a couple of hours developing their start-ups, it was time to present. As you can see by these presentations, the groups developed their own forms of model by attaching the cards to the blank canvasses, and adding in either questions or answers to a core selection of cards which were also affixed to the canvas. This allowed people to talk through the logic of their models, and also allowed key insights to be shared with the whole group. Although MethodKits consist of around 50 cards, it is important not to get lost or overwhelmed in detail. All teams focused on just a few key issues, but it was obvious that in a real life scenario, there is more than enough material in the kits to allow deep dives perhaps over a few days than just a few hours.
MethodKit first launched in Sweden in September 2012 with the Projects and Personal Development kits. Although there are now people working with Methodkits across 30 countries, the majority of users are in Brazil, UK, US, Germany and Sweden. I sometimes wonder if Brazil is still lacking visibility in other countries in terms of just how dynamic its nascent start-up and entrepreneurial culture is. It still of course has its challenges, but almost every week it seems that I am meeting very dynamic people, with a huge amount of enthusiasm and energy, wanting to create something new, and the demand for MethodKit really reflects this I feel. Maria and I spent time talking to Genau who very early on saw the opportunity, and developed the partnership with Ola to create the Portuguese MethodKits. English Methodkits are already being used here in Brazil by students, universities, R&D departments, agencies and NGOs, and today the Portuguese language kits have become available via the MethodKit site here.
There are always new MethodKits being considered, and one of the next ones to launch will be the sustainability pack.
Sometimes it seems wonderful how articles belong together on my blog without any planning on my behalf. My previous article was actually a guest article by Iain McGilchrist, and I can well imagine that a detailed discussion on the division of the brain hemispheres may seem academic or philosophical. Many people still have an out-of-date conceptualisation of the left and right brains, but as we have seen in both the work of McGilchrist and in the work of Stephen Kosslyn and Wayne Miller, there are some extremely profound insights we can gain from more nuanced and complex studies of brain functioning (see Guest Article: Iain McGilchrist replies to Stephen Kosslyn and Wayne Miller on the divided brain). Ola too has studied the work of McGilchrist, and has written about creativity and the divided brain, noting how we have both a rational way of thinking, and an intuitive way of thinking, ways which have very different characteristics:
If we wish to develop and improve our ways of thinking, one form should not dominate the other. We need to achieve balance and be comfortable working with both modes, and MethodKit can help us work towards this goal.
I think that MethodKits will come to be used in many different contexts, and it was great to be a part of the workshop and see how all the people who were there were working and interacting with the cards. There is an interesting balance of structure and freedom, which if used in the hands of a skilled facilitator, will really help people develop better ideas, business models and indeed, whole new organisations.