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Goal: Use a CaT to help gather ideas, stories, perspectives that give you possible directions for further exploration.

Setting up a CaT

Step 1: Define a broad problem space

Starting with an end goal in mind, create a broad problem space which encompasses your goal. We start with a broad problem space as it encourages creative thinking which may generate more robust solutions and new possibilities (serendipitous discovery and virtuous cycles). A more general problem space would also appeal to a broader audience which can give deeper insights into established demographics, or new insights into under served members.

For example, if you define your goal as to "increase museum gift shop receipts by 10%" and solicit solutions based on that scope, you may find solutions related to changing prices, or improving inventory. Also the study may attract only people retail experience. If the problem were defined more broadly as "discover why guests do not visit the museum gift shop", the ideas you get may be more interesting and useful for broader applications (i.e. "Strollers can not fit between the retail shelves" may lead to better accessibility throughout the facility). Also the broader problem space makes room for a larger demographic to participate.

For example:


  • "Why visitors do not visit the museum gift shop" (not "Increase gift shop receipts by 10%")
  • "Investigate possible new features for the next version of the product" (not "user test features in target demographic")

Step 2: Come up with some


Scenarios to Aid Exploration

  • Some structure is needed to help guide the experience
  • Do some dry runs / rehearsals with colleagues to identify possible shortcomings - address those as necessary

Step 3:

  • Find some participants
    • Aim for participation from a broad audience not just the people who fit the "average".
    • Give sufficient detail and time and correspondence.

Step 4

  • Observe and facilitate co-creation
    • Record with video and photos (consent required)
    • Participants themselves can also be given tools and opportunity to document their thoughts and observations

Step 5

Step 6

  • Give opportunity for individuals and groups to refine and iterate on their ideas.

Step 7

  • Give opportunity for groups and individuals to inspire each other through the presention of ideas.

Step 8

  • Ensure the pacing is sufficient, with appropriate breaks.
    • Don't try to do too much. Be respectful of time.

Step 9

  • Build a good relationship with participants to allow for future opportunities