12. Trial #4 - Ben Dobson

Introducing the 3rd public participant in the Making Sense trials - Ben Dobson.

Ben had picked up on my callout over social media to invite creatives from all backgrounds to get involved in these trials. Ben is the founder of the utterly incredible Flatpack Motion Media - an independent media production house that specialises in full-motion 2D and 3D animation solutions for clients across a wide variety of sectors.

When it was time to schedule Ben in for Trial #4 of Making Sense, he had just received a brief for a 'brand story' animation production. The full details of which could not be divulged due to NDAs. But the thrilling thing for me was this would be the very first time, in the history of Making Sense, that they would drive the ideation process behind a very much real, and very much paid professional creative opportunity! After working through both parts of the trial guidance, Ben spent a total of 3 days with the cards around his day to day production work...

...and as it turns out, Part 1 of the trial was actually not that smooth for Ben. As we can see from this post-trial rating:

"Going in blind, I initially was using the cards as ‘seeds’ to simply get me thinking. I would select at random one of each type of card, then try to formulate an idea off the back of my current combination. Obviously the “achieving your goal” and “auditing your resources” cards were actually a little bit misused in this context as it turns out..!" - Ben Dobson

Part 2 however, saw a DRAMATIC improvement on his experience with the cards:

...and as for the reason Ben didn't give The Prism Framework a flat out 10:

"I definitely much preferred part 2 of the trial by a long shot. However, I perhaps feel that the guidance on specifically how to use/combine the ‘spectrum’ cards might be slightly more crystallised? It might just be how I think ( I DO suspect I’m on a bit of a ‘spectrum’ of my own..!) but I felt a bit like I might have been ‘doing it wrong’ at this stage.. or maybe there isn’t really a wrong way? But I must say I HAD found my method useful though, seemingly in the spirit that is intended, the prism framework had created a much better experience with the cards. - Ben Dobson

*AIRHORNS* PRRRHHHH PRRRHHH PRHHHHHHHHHHH! We have repeat findings folks! In a similar vein to comments made in previous trials - a more crystallised edition of the Prism Framework is clearly desired! ...in what can be summarised so far as "It's great! But more information please!" For Ben, this seems to be much more so the case than for Sarah or Jack, who (it's absolutely safe to say) enjoyed developing their own systems much more than Ben had. But even with that, more detailed guidance is the singular common request so far in these trials. I then went on to ask Ben what the most valuable card was to him during the process. Here's what he had to say:

"There were actually two: The first being the [TRANSFORM THE CREATIVE BRIEF INTO A CONCISE BLURB] card. Again, this is something I often don’t do fully, and almost without fail this results in a misinterpretation of the brief at some level which can produce massive nightmares. ALWAYS check understanding with a client, and I think reflecting a ‘concise blurb’ back at them is a good way to limit pain..! The second card was the [WHAT ARE YOUR CORE BELIEFS?]card. Increasingly, I think that we should be starting the process by asking ourselves “should I even be doing this project?” Before we even take a step into the planning stage. Looking at these cards at the beginning of every project would remind you to ‘check-in’ and make sure it's the right choice." - Ben Dobson

Also what can I say... the outputs that Ben had sent over to me as a result of his trial with the cards are absolutely glorious! (excuse the black bars, I needed to redact the identity of the client as per the polite request from Ben!)

All of the above now having gone back over to his client to kick the work process off! A Making Sense milestone has been made! The post-trial discussions also drummed up some other key themes which hadn't crossed my mind up until this phonecall with Ben: The topic of wellbeing and mindfulness.

"The Achieving Your Goal and Auditing Resources card categories feature much more long-form questions of a sort of administrative/project housekeeping nature… which is often something reserved for forms or spreadsheets or whatever. Engaging with these questions, randomly shuffled, and turning them over one at a time made this process feel like a conversation with myself, and not at all like the work I usually avoid. My line of work is very much about pressure and having the headspace to manage it, so this simple, un-cluttered approach is bang-on!” - Ben Dobson

This feels to me like a really wholesome slant on the recent strategic reframing of Making Sense (i.e. from the human senses to championing organisation for creatives). In this case, the organisation that the cards had stimulated ultimately served as a self-care mechanism. This is something that can certainly become part of the brand story for Making Sense, because man alive does that add to the value proposition - organisation is KING!

The cards have since returned in the post (they're getting out and about more than I am lately...) and the final contribution from Ben, aside from all of these incredibly wonderful insights, is a nice smattering of new cards to add to the deck - [TIMING] for the Translating Terminology category, and both [DIALATE TIME] [STRETCH TIME] for the Conditions & Cognitions category. ...all very much influenced by the temporal nature of his work as an animator! So with that, I need to quickly knock up these new cards and get them added ASAP, because they need to be shipped out very sharpish tomorrow to accommodate for the delayed delivery timings in these COVID times, to ensure they arrive with our next participant in time for Trial #5. Away we gooooooooooo...