Design for Participation

A few years ago I was working on a game that promoted conversational turn-taking. The project was a big failure in that I managed it poorly and the team didn’t really know how to work together. Ironic considering the object of the game.

That said, the concept was pretty neat. The game was based on a belief that balanced participation in meetings led to more creative ideas than did meetings in which one or two people dominated the conversation. The game rewarded something called “conversational turn-taking” in order to promote balanced participation and creativity.

The other day I stumbled on a piece of furniture that seems to do this really well: The Balance Table. The table is equipped with mic inputs and LED outputs. It listens to a meeting as it’s happening and illuminates the table-space near where most of the talking occurs. This visualization allows people to course correct in real time. If your section of the table is super lit up, you might pause and ask for your colleague’s opinion. And if your portion of the table isn’t lit up much at all, you might feel permission to speak up, or to even interrupt your colleagues!

Balance Table from Becca Quigley on Vimeo.