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What makes the i-Lab an effective method?

The efficiency of the method is based on a synergy of several components which influence the i-Lab users:

  1. Carefully and intentionally arranged entourage.
  2. Stimulation – facilitator activity.
  3. Available, purposely selected equipment.
  4. Computers with a Visual Brainstorm Software (VBS).

Some describe the i-Lab as a trinity of:

  1. Technology 
  2. Facilitation
  3. Surrounding

Each element is crucial!

Using i-Lab for problem solving may accelerate the process of personal creativity which usually provides quick and unexpected positive results. Two days in i-Lab can equal weeks of traditional sessions.

Rooms – unique entourage.

The i-Lab comprises of two spaces: for work and for relaxation. Both are closely connected with each other so that there is an easy access from one to another. The unique arrangement of the room, a complementary role of the work area and the relaxation zone are stimulating and comfortable for the users. Encouraging colours and entire design give the unusual atmosphere of creativity. The room design is based on the metaphor (such like: forest, spacecraft, desert etc.) which provide all participants the sense of uniqueness and stimulation.

 

Methods and technics

The methods used by a facilitator are especially selected for the i-Lab use and they are matched for each particular group. There is a wide spectrum of methods used by the facilitator. Among them, there as two basic methods usually used during the sessions: a brainstorming connected with the VBS software (VBS) and icebreaking methods.
Icebreaking methods are used in the beginning of the session in order to worm up the atmosphere for desirable interactions. There is a wide variety of icebreakers therefore it is easy to choose a proper one depending on the group’s needs.

The second basic method is a brainstorming which provides many brainstorm technics (e.g. attribute change, rolestorming, mind map, SWOT analysis or escape thinking.).

The use of dedicated software supporting the above mentioned methods is definitely a great advantage.

Technology

Technology makes the session more efficient. The VBS software is designed to support the methods used during the sessions. It offers several modes of work which offers both anonymity and public sharing ideas depending on the necessities. It can be easily adjust to the needs during each session. The technology offers an easy access to VBS software through the internet without the necessity of installing the server. The access to the application is available through the standard browser. No other installation is required. The software is easy and intuitive to use.

Role of the facilitator.

The role of a facilitator is a crucial element in the i-Lab method.

The facilitator is responsible for planning the session and its running.

Both activities are essential in the whole process. The preparation part requires knowledge about the subject, the i-lab methods, resources, and participants group characteristic. There is little space for improvisation in the i-Lab session so the precise preparation is very important. The better session is prepared the better result we can achieve.

Since the ambience is a predominant factor impacting the results of the sessions the facilitator is responsible for this part of the process.

The i-Lab method consists of three elements: Technology, Facilitation, and Surrounding. Therefore the facilitator should possesses animator skills and an IT assistant. He is the one that carries the responsibility for the moderation and proper functioning of the IT and the i-Lab as a whole.

His skills should be related to the i-Lab methods and i-Lab equipment. The above mentioned competences may be gained during a training dedicated to facilitators.