Unpacking creative spaces: working walls

By The App Business under Agile 21 March 2016

"Space is a resource that must be managed, much like time, memory, and energy. When we use space well we can often bring the time and memory demands of our tasks down to workable levels. We can increase the reliability of execution, and the number of jobs we can handle at once" - David Kirsh.

As promised, here is the first follow up on my creative spaces for creative thinking blog.

Working walls - a deeper look

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is true in the working environment as much as anywhere else. As inquisitive beings, visual communication or facilitation (as opposed to verbal, or non-verbal) is often considered to be the kind of communication people rely on most.

At TAB, we make as much use as we can of our surroundings, and as I mentioned in the previous post, we have tried to not be too precious about space. Every inch of wall space is an opportunity to be creative and encourage teams to drive face-to-face conversations and collective decision-making. I like to refer to these as ‘working walls’.

Working walls are a visual display that supports the attainment of goals, targets and development of ideas and the content of a working wall changes regularly to support the growth of these ideas. One of the reasons I love this visual technique is that it enables and drives effective collaboration.

So why do we use working walls?

To provide a reference point for information. Have a think about the amount of information that flows through conversations on a daily basis - it’s easy to lose track. So using wall space as a hub of information for pinning up ideas or diagrams helps teams feel involved and connected to a project or piece of work.

It drives design thinking and inspires new ideas. ‘Out of the box’ thinking and conceptualising new ideas can be challenging, and requires inspiration. Use your wall for ideation, sketches, and mockups - and use these to make connections and enable breakthrough thinking.

It creates cross-contextual reminders. Using visual techniques to remember conversations, decisions, and ideas is not only a creative way of jogging people’s memories, but it’s also more interesting and engaging for teams.

Check out the examples below to see how we use working walls at TAB, and hopefully get inspired to try some out in your own office spaces.

1. Ideation Walls

Ideation walls (see below) can help facilitate each step of the design thinking process and foster creative thinking. They can also help teams define a focused approach by capturing and analysing large amounts of data, as well as keeping track of creative assumptions and risks.

2. Project Walls

Project walls (see below) can be great information radiators. When it comes to deadlines, sprint cadence, and work in progress, it is always a great idea to make this information as visible as possible to ensure that teams stay aligned and aware of precisely what’s going on and what’s next. 

3. Roadmap Walls 

Roadmap walls (see below) are a great way to depict a journey or progression. For many projects - especially those we anticipate running over a long time period - roadmap walls are a brilliant way to progressively identify challenges and opportunities as you anticipate them, or they emerge, throughout the project’s journey.

4. Community of Practice (CoP) Walls 

We encourage our discipline teams to drive self-organised learning and development through their communities of practice, so with that said, why not have a wall to draw attention to all the cool workshops, games and discussions you use to support both tacit and explicit knowledge sharing? These can be used to cluster, prioritise and visualise a team’s ideas, goals and collective ambitions (see below).


If you have any questions regarding Agile space and working walls, tweet us @theappbusiness, and tune in next week for a closer look at creative corners.