One model of team science proposes a development stage in which the primary goal is to define the relevant scientific and societal problem, to create a shared sense of mission and goals…, developing critical awareness of the strengths and weaknesses (that each member brings to the team), and developing an environment of psychological safety.

  • An effective method for supporting these processes is to engage the group in creating a visual representation of the problem area, referred to as a “cognitive artifact,” and updating this representation as the work proceeds.

From this beginning, the group moves into the conceptualization phase, developing research questions, hypotheses, a conceptual framework, and a research design. Team processes that enhance effectiveness at this stage include developing a shared language, such as by using analogies and lay language in in place of disciplinary jargon. [Enhancing the Effectiveness of Team Science, p. 76]

Visual sense-making is a key LSC strategy for planning. It was embedded in LSC Roundtables.
LSC Roundtable Collection I: Essays on Designing for Inclusion and Equity

From an LSC Roundtable/Workshop co-hosted by VentureWell, a journey for discovering how spaces for making evolve.

Step 1: After thinking for 30 seconds, in one continuous drawing, document your mental image of what a maker space is.

Step 2: Share and appraise individual drawings.

Step 3: Assemble into working teams (5 people) to create a shared vision (a “cognitive artifact”) about a) what you want your learners to become; and b) the ideal space for making that enables that becoming.

Step 4: Share for critique and applause.

Lessons Learned: The process of planning a maker space models and mirrors the desired experiences the users of these spaces.


… The [planning] team functioned in a manner strikingly similar to the behaviour we hoped the design would support. We acted and reacted as an interdisciplinary and inter- dependent organism. Discussion and interaction became essential for the successful realization of our concepts. In formulating new strategies, we relied on the input and free exchange of ideas from our colleagues.

— James Collins Jr. “The Design Process for the Human Workplace.” The Architecture of Science. Peter Galison and Emily Ann Thompson, eds. The MIT Press. 1999.