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The Idea Sandbox: Introduction

Originally posted on Brand Autopsy

I’m delighted to share with you that I, Brand Examiner Paul, am starting my own business in Seattle.

I’m opening an ideation destination… a conducive place for people to brainstorm. It’s called…

The Idea Sandbox

With the broad audience that this Brand Autopsy blog affords, I thought… instead of starting this business on my own – we could do it together. We could have a lot of fun.

For you… there is transparency in the project. Like starting a plant from a seed… you can witness the sprouting, growing and blooming of this project. You’ll have the chance to water, fertilize and pollinate.

As much as NOT a fan of reality television… there may be something to say about reality internet

For me… opening this project to input from a broad audience allows access to ideas and thoughts I never would have come up with on my own… and THAT, my friends, is what the Idea Sandbox will be all about…

inspire businesses and entrepreneurs alike to dream the unthinkable and do the impossible.

From me… I promise to provide regular updates on the project. I’ll share where I am in the process. I’ll share the key decisions I’ve made. Some of this may be done here… or (respecting the core Brand Autopsy audience) I may bring you to an Idea Sandbox blog for the details. I promise to invite each and every one of you to the grand opening AND will offer each and every one of you something special if you bring your teams to the Idea Sandbox to find the solutions to your challenges.

From you… I want your honesty. Your thoughts. Your feedback. Your input. If you were to spec a dream space to bring your team – what would it be like? What have the barriers been at your organization to turning a flip-chart page of ideas into reality? How can you help make this the right place for the left brain?

Why this project?

As a little kid, I always wanted to ‘be an idea guy’ and help people find solutions to their problems. In each job I’ve had since graduation I found I had the knack to improve some part of the business by contributing solid, practical and actionable ideas. The Idea Sandbox allows me to formalize my passion and ability to help others generate wicked good ideas. I will share my expertise, as well as an extensive library of tools and resources to help others develop their own creative solutions.

About Idea Sandbox

Idea Sandbox will be THE space for creative thinking in the Pacific Northwest. One step inside this idea wonderland, you’ll understand how the Idea Sandbox will inspire businesses and entrepreneurs alike to dream the unthinkable and do the impossible.

Work groups and individuals ranging from business professionals, marketing teams, project managers, small group facilitators, and anyone aspiring to think more creatively will visit Idea Sandbox. They will be inspired by the space, mind meld with a BrainTrust of experts, and access the library of problem solving tools and resources. Idea Sandbox will not only appeal to Ideators from companies and non-profit organizations throughout the Puget Sound area, but also attract folks from across the Pacific Northwest – from Vancouver, BC to Portland, Oregon. Its reputation for productive thinking will make it a destination to Ideators across North America.

With three themed rooms, two with the capacity for 30 Ideators and one for groups up to 70, Idea Sandbox will be chock-full of visual, aural, tactile and mental stimulation. Rooms will be outfitted with practical high-touch tools such as white boards, flip charts, Play-Doh and toys… Required-tech tools will include… LCD projectors, DVD/VCR players, Wi-Fi Internet access, and satellite radio. Our kitchen will be stocked with food for thought and creative juices – tasty snacks and crisp drinks to keep the ideas flowing.

Ideators may book single or multiple rooms on a half-day basis (under 4 hours) or for the full day (4 to 8 hours).

The primary way solutions will be generated will be through facilitated brainstorming sessions… Where Ideators are guided through the various stages of ideation – from ‘blue sky’ to the ‘fewer, bigger, better’ list of actionable ideas. Alternately, Ideators may choose free-range sessions and use the inspiring Idea Sandbox space for brainstorming, planning sessions and team building activities.

Hopefully that’s enough to whet your appetite… Let’s see how this experiment goes! I look forward to your feedback!

Original Trackbacks for this post


» Idea Sandbox from Johnnie Moore’s Weblog
Paul Williams, of Brand Autopsy fame, is opening a exciting sounding venue in Seattle, The Idea Sandbox.I’m opening an ideation destination… a conducive place for people to brainstorm. It’s called… The Idea Sandbox With the broad audience that this… [Read More]


» A different type of space from face2face
Paul Williams over at Brand Autopsy is planning to open an “ideation destination, a place for people to brainstorm.” He’s going to be building his ideas for the space in public, via the Internet, inviting input and feedback from potential [Read More]


» A different type of space from face2face
Paul Williams over at Brand Autopsy is planning to open an “ideation destination, a place for people to brainstorm.” He’s going to be building his ideas for the space in public, via the Internet, inviting input and feedback from potential [Read More]


» The Idea Sandbox from Work At Home Dad
I like this idea. It sounds kind of like Starbucks with white boards and and LCD projectors. [Read More]


» Idea Sandbox – An Introduction from Idea Sandbox Blog
I thought a great place to start our conversation here at the Idea Sandbox blog would be to provide you with some history… Here’s my ‘announcement’ and invitation to join in on building the Idea Sandbox. I posted this on… [Read More]


» Idea Sandbox: “Plan B: Part II” from Idea Sandbox Blog
Thanks for your comments… your great comments… You’re hired! You are totally right in your suggestions… Slow cooked chili is better. However… I’ve not given up… I’m re-examining. I have confidence that I would put together a phenomenal, buzz-… [Read More]


» Idea Sandbox: “Plan B: Part II” from Idea Sandbox Blog
Thanks for your comments… your great comments… You’re hired! You are totally right in your suggestions… Slow cooked chili is better. However… I’ve not given up… I’m re-examining. I have confidence that I would put together a phenomenal, buzz-… [Read More]


» “Plan B” from Idea Sandbox Blog
I received an e-mail today, forwarded from a friend, announcing that ThinkSpot in Seattle is having their Grand Opening Gala next month. What is ThinkSpot? “ThinkSpot is a brand new meeting and event facility… We are housed in an artist… [Read More]


» The Idea Sandbox: Introduction from Idea Sandbox Blog
(Originally posted on Brand Autopsy) I’m delighted to share with you that I, Brand Examiner Paul, am starting my own business in Seattle. I’m opening an ideation destination… a conducive place for people to brainstorm. It’s called… The Idea Sandbox… [Read More]

Original Comments for this post

Congrats, Paul! It’s an idea whose timing is perfect. I’m looking forward to watching the show here.

Love it Paul! And I like how you are “open-sourcing” the development of the business.

I’m In! This idea has more legs than a Latino-spider! I think this is the future and I toast you for recognizing collaboration and cooperation as our path to greatness!

what a great…idea! i am no longer a kid as thousands of sunrises have past me, but i still want to be the idea guy. to me, nothing is more exciting than looking at a process/problem and creating a solution. sometimes, these solutions are a bit off the wall, but that’s part of the fun…looking at something in a manner never considered.

so, count me in….looking forward to playing….

During the boom we had one of these facilities in my old neighborhood in Palo Alto, called KnowWhere (maybe not the best name). It got a bit of buzz, I don’t know busy they ever were. I was only in there once, attending an over-facilitated Fast Company event (not sure what it was about or what we learned).

As powerful as the idea was, this particular venture failed. Do you have any insight as to the causes of that or similar businesses failing?

I would hypothesize that timing had something to do with it, and the cost of Palo Alto commercial real estate as well. But I don’t know.

Sounds like a good idea.

How is your service going to attract businesses other than giving them space?

Are you going to have experienced professionals come in to work with the groups that sign up or are you going to have a set staff of “ideators”?

If you bring in gurus, do companies have to pre-plan so that you can bring in who they want, or do you pre-book the gurus and then sign up companies to pay for their stay with your company?

I am so far in that I can barely breathe. The water is above my head and I want to know so much more. Tell us more……..I want my companies involved.

I am so far in that I can barely breathe. The water is above my head and I want to know so much more. Tell us more……..I want my companies involved.

Umm….Frank drank the koolaid. twice.

One word: “imagineer”

Awesome!

We’re off to a great start… What I plan to do is to collect a few of your comments and use them as starter for new posts…

  • For example, both Steve and Walker bring up ideas/issues that I can address in new posts.

  • Wayne… you’re exactly right… “What would Walt do?” is a question I ask.
  • Is there a entomologist in the house? Please contact Michael.
  • Thanks for your engagement in this project!

    Congrats on striking it out on your own! Hairy, scary, but never boring. You should research Catalyst Ranch and the owner, Eva. She is very open and has learned a ton about how to manage and promote such a space.

    We at Alphachimp Studio Inc. have launched a sister-site to yours focused on the use of visual learning to solve real world problems: www.graphicfacilitation.com.

    I hope that this could become a way for creative practitioners as yourself to hook up with graphic facilitators and useful tools.

    Also, Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools just focused on tools for creative spaced, namely white wall technology: http://www.kk.org/cooltools/

    I’m hip to play in the sandbox!

    Yes! There is such a need for this type of space, and I love that you get the playfulness factor. Have you considered including improv in your repertoire? Q-storming? The possibilities are endless…can’t wait to hear more.

    Why don’t you have a second offering where people can use your blog to ideate – without having to go in and do a session. All virtual, based off of your blog. Maybe I missed it and you are doing it, but if not that sounds like a great idea. Use the brain power behind the blog and the virtualness of the blog to build ideas.

    I would like to add an item to your brainstorming room–something I simply cannot do without when I want to get the brain fired up and something you Pacific Northwesterners can appreciate. Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

    Paul: It sounds great — I love sandboxes, virtual, metaphorical, real or otherwise. But I will suggest both caution and mad amounts of creativity. Caution, because you will be competing in a category that is already hotly contested by traditional space-rental businesses like hotels, conference centers, restaurants and convention halls. Mad creativity, because if you don’t exhibit insane levels of the juice you’re hoping to imbue in your clientele, you’ll be less likely to attract them.

    Two things come to mind as specific suggestions. First, get in touch with people and groups that do training events and see how you can combine what they do with your various equipment, methods and space to enhance their services in ways that would allow them to achieve greater results and revenues. Helping them achieve a “whole is greater than the sum of the parts” will probably allow you to do things in combination that apart were in no way possible. You then just need to figure out how to split the dough.

    The other thing that’s happening more and more, and has yet found a geographic place to roost, is the consolidation of virtual groups. Such as, for example, the people commenting on this blog. We all, I assume, have friends we’ve met through web sites, chat, IM, email, etc., but have never met in real life. I call these “e-lationships.” I’ve heard the term “fleshmet” used to refer to those people we’ve actually had the chance to shake hands with. As time goes on, I think there will be a need for groups who don’t have any geographic or real-world “space” of their own to occasionally meet and “get it on” in some way. Whether it is a company with lots of virtual workers, or a club with many far-flung members, we are gaining many communicative connections in terms of reach… but losing much of our face-time.

    If you could figure out a way to make your Idea Sandbox a welcome place for groups who are, as yet, un-tethered in the real world… that might catch on real nice. I’ve been thinking about this in terms of other common areas and how they are changing / have changed / should change; libraries, coffee shops, churches, etc. In some ways, we are more private in public than ever (iPods, cell phones). And in others, we are taking what used to be public (work, church, school) and keeping it private by doing it virtually at home. Useful spaces where we can get back together and be… connected in person again… might be at a premium soon. And having good facilitators on hand to help groups get the most out of their time together… that would be a very cool thing, too.

    Not just a tech guy to help with the projector, or a creativity guru (though that’s good, too), but someone to help a group of people understand itself and move forward. That sounded like what you wanted to do, right? Well, all of these various gangs of people out here in cyberspace might accomplish a whole lot in one day, if they had the proper place and tools.

    Two initial thoughts, as I said. As more occur, I’ll come back and post ‘em. Good luck.

    would you be interested in creating an event out of this that can occur elsewhere?

    What a great idea! I’ve always wanted to try and create a space where people can converge and just hash out ideas and help eachother out. I think there was a dharma and greg episode about this, but I digress. I’m with Andy to see if there is a way for us that have the e-relationships and meet and discuss in person. Perhaps use something like meetup.com? I’ve attended those and they were pretty interesting, but they are really just for socializing purposes. I’d be willing to go to one that is for an extension of the Idea Sandbox.

    I can’t wait to bring a group. . .please keep me posted on the progress.

    Fantastic idea. Keep us on the move and let us all help you. We can learn from you – and may be you even provide me with some ideasa for Asia. I had a similar idea but it is scarier here in the region, since we might be a bit “backwards” with those “experiments.”

    1. Could we have a mobile team too, similar to a traveling circus? Ideators could set up the play-dough, frisbees and hackey-sacks in customer’s office and save customer’s team a drive to the studio. It’s not be as tactile, aural, multisensory–but it’s revenue.

    2. I’ve heard kids are creative. How can kids help improve the design?

    3. The space itself needs to be fun, but it’s essentially an office. How can creative interior decorating enhance the purpose of the space? Catalyst Ranch has hammocks–cool, if you don’t fall asleep.

    Whiteboard – drawings captured on a PC?
    Flip-chart – low tech whiteboard, can tape indiv. sheets on wall
    Play-dough – need lots of it, for big ideas
    XM Radio – because we think better w/ music
    Wi-Fi – and plenty of electrical outlets
    Pot – for the Ideabong (shaped like a lightbulb) UPDATE: illegal
    Snacks – got the munchies? help yourself
    Drinks – H20, soda, juices, coffee, RedBull, a fully-stocked bar;)
    Plants – they humanize a room
    Musical Instruments – in the soundproof room
    Video Cameras – leave them on, just in case
    Green Screen – w/ sufficient lighting
    Teleprompter – look into the lens
    Podcast gear – mic, pre-amp(?), etc.
    Toys – obvious (ThinkGeek products), not-so-obvious(yo-yo, Lincoln Logs, stuffed animals)
    Digital Projector – 100″ screen
    Comfy Furniture – unusual sofas, artsy tables
    Exercise Equipment – hand weights, crunch machine
    Costume Clothes – silly hats, neckties, capes and wigs
    Paper and Pens – colorful notepads, sticky notes and magic markers
    A Manifesto on the Wall – our values, goals, objectives, ideas
    More Toys – red rubber balls, slinkys, nerf

    Aha! I just re-read the post: An ideator is a customer, not an employee. I had it wrong above. So who gets to be the facilitator–an employee? What’s their title?

    - Notioner
    - Guesser
    - Thinker
    - Abstracter
    - Designer
    - Hinter
    - Senser
    - Truster

    Hmm…those suck. I vote for ‘Facilitator.’

    I love these types of places, but (other than location) do you plan on doing anything different than some of my other favorite ‘innovation destinations’ listed below?
    http://www.Eurekaranch.com
    http://www.SparkSpace.com
    http://www.solutionpeople.com/thinkubator.htm

    Sounds like a brilliant idea! =) Hm.. sounds like an IDEO office too. You should check it out. Maybe you could build on it.

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