One of the final steps in completing my residency this summer was to co-facilitate a blitz with my fellow residents. Along with choosing some pre-planned design activities to include in the blitz schedule, we had the opportunity to create some activities ourselves. My favorite exercise that we were able to come up with, and that turned out to be pretty successful, was Speedy Monkey.
Speedy Monkey started out simply as an exercise to encourage thinking in physical space by allowing participants to use a variety of unrelated materials, in successive rounds, to create several prototypes. We wanted people to see their idea in ways they wouldn't have normally thought of and we wanted them to do it fast to avoid judgement. In developing the exercise further, I was reminded of a group painting I recently participated in. To complete it, several people joined me around a canvas and we rotated positions as we painted, adding to each other's marks to create a unified piece. With this in mind we decided that Speedy Monkey should be a group exercise. Then we created stations that would contain certain materials to make with, including a station of random trinkets. Each person in a group would sit at these stations around a table, spending 5 minutes with each material. As they rotated around the table, they would be allowed to add to their prototypes or start fresh. After every group member got a turn at each station we would reflect on what was made.
When it came time to try out Speedy Monkey in a blitz I got to participate! Starting with the idea of "Lego Post-Its" I was able to create the prototype below. After five rounds with many different materials, including a yo-yo, I discovered that these Post-Its could be used to connect several pieces of an idea into one big idea. I also concluded that they didn't have to be flat like regular Post-Its. This idea could be seen in three dimensions and even have moving parts. All in all, Speedy Monkey worked incredibly well at pushing a simple thought into an expanded, working, rough prototype!
P.S. I didn't come up with the name...
Here's the full blitz we created if you want to try out some exercises yourself!