Making ideas reality


By the end of this unit you will have completed exercises that explore:

  • Project planning timeline - using the timeline tool to visually map out what you will need to do, when, and what resources you will need to do it.
  • Evaluation - how will you measure the success of the project?

Building the plan

Now that you have all of the components of your project in place, it’s time to start thinking about how they all fit together. In this unit we will consider a project timeline to help you understand how long a project might take. We will also explore how you can define the outcomes of a project and evaluate them. In addition to the timeline, we will think about the budgetary requirements.

It can feel daunting to put down these final aspects of our project planning. However, you have worked through the other units and you are well equipped to begin putting your jigsaw puzzle together to complete the finished picture. You do not need to get everything perfectly planned or stick rigidly to this plan. This is more focused on thinking through each aspect of your project. It will help you spot things you might have missed in your planning. It is also a good guideline to keep you moving forward into the more involved aspects of the project.

Project planning timeline

It’s useful to use the Design Council’s Double Diamond model (Design Council, 2017) to structure co-production workshops. The model has four stages, which can be enacted over a few hours, or over a few years, depending on the project scope and resources.

Discover - investigate the focus of the project from all angles. Collect information through conversation, sharing stories, surveys, observations, interviews, drawing, creative exercises and other investigative techniques.

Define - examine all of the collected information and identify key themes that have emerged from it. By the end of this stage there should be a clear question, or questions, to be answered.

Develop - find as many answers as possible to the question - thinking broadly and not ruling anything out. The group must push themselves to think creatively in order to develop as many solutions as possible.

Deliver - ideas that have been developed are prototyped (tried out) and refined. This results in the group achieving the desired outcome or output.

Let’s say you know you want to deliver a project involving a number of workshops. Using the timeline tool, visually map out what you will need to do, when, and what resources you will need to do it. Working on a visual timeline means you can easily add things as they appear to you, and don’t need to worry about working everything out in chronological order.

How to use the timeline

Add your workshops to your timeline, spread evenly across the Double Diamond stages. You can either write down exact dates or just note a rough time between each session. The length of your workshops will vary from group to group.

Now think about the steps you will need to go through for each workshop - identifying resources, planning resources, updating group members, evaluating and documenting. Add all of these actions to your timeline.

Work backwards from there - think about advertising the workshops, recruiting your co-design team, networking, and sharing your workshops with appropriate colleagues. You may need to go back as far as sourcing funding.

When you have all the details of your plan timetable agreed, use the lower half of the diagram to map out what resources you will need at each stage and the associated tasks.

Map out who will do what tasks, and what support they will need.


In your visual timeline, consider important points for evaluation and evidencing. Include the points at which you will determine personal outcomes, measure people’s understanding, take stock of what is being learned from the project, edit photographs and write up workshop reports.

Ideas for evidencing and sharing your work:

  • Take photographs throughout the workshops
  • Create a project blog or website
  • Write up all workshop notes at the end of each session
  • Evidence the narrative - write creatively about the workshops and project
  • Keep photographic or reflective journals
  • Storyboard events
  • Issue regular feedback forms
  • Tweet about your workshops
  • Interview participants at different stages
  • Speak at events about your projects
  • Create a folder or scrapbook to store used tools
  • What indicators can you use to demonstrate project progress/success?

Practical exercises

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