Bodystorming is a form of brainstorming where participants use their bodies to gain new insights and experiences. Bodystorming is an immersive ideation process where creativity is facilitated through role-playing and physical interaction using props, products, prototypes, and physical spaces.
In product development, bodystorming encourages the individual to imagine what it would be like if the product already existed. The approach is used to design physical products, software, and interior or exterior spaces.
Whatever the application, the fundamental goal of brainstorming is to figure things out by trying things out. The strategy helps teams break their dependency on analyzing ideas around a conference table and moves them closer to developing ideas that work in a real-world setting. As a result, product development is based on actual user behavior as opposed to staged or manufactured behavior.
Conducting a bodystorming session
There are many ways to conduct a bodystorming session. Below we have detailed a relatively simplistic approach:
- Assemble the team – for best results, start by assembling a small group of between 5 and 8 people. Ideally, the team should consist of experts, users, management, or those who will deliver or develop the product or service.
- Define the location – where will the potential product or service be used?
- Observe behavior – once the location has been determined, the bodystorming team should go there and observe the behavior of others without a specific brief. How do individuals interact with the product or service? What is the context for each interaction?
- Reproduce the environment – to rebuild the location in a controlled environment, the team should create prototypes and props using cardboard, existing furniture, or other items. Alternatively, they can simply be sketched out.
- Assign roles – members of the team should then be assigned roles according to the information gleaned in step three. The individual can take on the role of a customer, user, or troubleshooter. They can also act as the product itself.
- Improvise – then, have each subject role-play various scenarios. In bodystorming, it is important to role-play new situations based on scenarios that emerge from this initial round. Individual roles can be fixed in advance or rotated through each team member. However, it’s important to avoid replaying scenarios with the same actors in the same roles. Doing so can introduce personal biases and stifle idea generation.
- Reflect – what has the team learned from the experience? Did any new questions arise? Were new solutions to existing problems discovered? Reflect by taking notes or filming the entire process for posterity.
Remember that bodystorming is an ideation method. Once it has been completed, a prototype needs to be created with user testing occurring thereafter.
- Bodystorming is a form of brainstorming where participants use their bodies to gain new insights and experiences.
- Bodystorming helps teams break their dependency on analyzing ideas around a conference table and moves them closer to developing ideas that work in a real-world setting. This has positive implications for product development based on user behavior.
- Bodystorming sessions can be conducted by following seven simple steps: assemble the team, define the location, observe behavior, reproduce the environment, assign roles, improvise, and reflect. Once the process is over, the team must take successful ideas to the prototype and user testing stage.
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