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 Site Visits

Visiting another context to inspire reflection, conversation and ideation in design thinking.

This Gets You out of your school to experience another context with colleagues, and to engage in reflective conversations that expand the space of the possible. 
Keep in Mind the tour inspires the reflection. Intentional reflection following the tour is where inspiration moves toward designing solutions and implementation. Emphasis on reflection and conversation both before and after are the key to this tool. 


Reflect on your context. What and Who are you designing for? You may begin the process using the Authenticity Brainstorm Process to determine the people, places, programs, experiences that might inspire your design. You may want to brainstorm other contexts doing similar work, brainstorm behaviours and experiences you are trying to create, and analogous contexts where these exist. Preparation: – Create a reflective atmosphere. Review the Norms for group. Norms are protocols and commitments to the process of the site visit and the reflection. – Research your destination. Visit their website, search for videos, tweets or pages that will help you get a glimpse at what you will see and what questions you may bring. – Prepare questions you hope to ask or answer through the tour. The tour is a process of data collection, be prepared to record and capture your observations. – Plan your reflection. The tour or visit is the inspiration for the reflection and ideation to come. – Consider your follow up. You may want to use the tour to develop an ongoing partnership.


Be ready to record insights, quotes, comments, questions, observations and more. Have a camera ready to capture observations (be sure to ask about photos and if there are restrictions). Come prepared with questions you would like to ask. This will help bring focus to the experience and to help with the sharing and reflection afterwards. We often bring post it notes where we can jot down our thoughts quickly through the tour. They are also great for sharing after the tour. “There’s no better way to understand the hopes, desires, and aspirations of those you’re designing for than by talking with them directly.” (The Field Guide To Human Centered Design, IDEO 2015)


With the site visit complete, reflection on the experience should begin to transition back to your context. Share what you collected during the visit. Share photos, quotes, comments and other take aways. Look for reoccurring themes and topics in the reflection. You may want to facilitate a process for sharing and for consolidating the reflections into common themes or areas. You could use a discussion protocol where each participant can share an “I Like, I wonder, Aha, I wish” either aloud or using post its. Plan your follow up. What are the next steps in your design? You could use the Illustrated Learning Journey process to map your design. Include what you have done to this point, the site visit, and what will your next steps be? You may want to start by plotting dates and upcoming opportunities where the design can continue.


  • Risk Taking
  • creative commons not TradeMarks
  • Radical Collaboration
  • Empathy for users
  • Show Don’t Tell
  • Focus on Human Values
  • Bias toward action
  • Clarity