The purpose of a parking lot is to be able to ‘park’ ideas for solutions, questions and comments that are not relevant to the stage you are at or the agenda of the session. In that way ideas, questions or comments are not forgotten, and the participant from which it arises is able to clear their head and keep attention to the task at hand.
This is especially helpful when you are in the ‘Explore problem’ or ‘Narrow down problem’ stages because you would typically want to encourage your participants to avoid jumping to solutions when you are still in the problem space. However you do not want to lose potential ideas, therefore the parking lot is a very useful method to deploy under those circumstances.
Tips to include participants who are not able to:
Ideas for solutions, questions, comments
Core abilities: Writing, communicating
Step by step:
Introduce the concept of the parking lot and ensure that everyone understands the purpose of it. You do not want your participants to perceive it as dismissive or disrespectful towards their inputs or ideas. The purpose is to keep focus on the stage you are working while ensuring no ideas are lost.
Monitor the progress of the workshop and ask participants to write their ideas on Post Its and place them on the parking lot if you hear them arise. They can also do so themselves if the parking lot method has been introduced properly.
If you are doing a minisprint or a workshop where you both explore problems and solutions, make sure to take time to incorporate the contents of the parking lot into the workshop at the appropriate time.
At the end of the workshop make sure to acknowledge the parking lot if it has any content and describe to your participants how you will bring it forward in your design process and implement the ideas at the appropriate stage.
When doing this method you should consider:
It is very important to present the parking lot very well, especially if you have participants that are not used to working with design methods and might not be familiar with using a parking lot.
As an alternative the parking lot could be introduced as an ‘idea bank’ rather than a parking lot.