In today’s multifaceted, multidisciplinary design world, effective collaboration with peers, is a very important component of ensuring the success of the project. A designer’s creativity can be greatly inspired, impacted, influenced and even impaired by a whole host of stakeholders that includes executives, managers, developers, clients, users and other designers.
Within this context, collaboration could be expressed as the currency of creativity. Who connects, wins. Over the years, I have seen collaboration done right but sadly too often it’s done wrong. I will be sharing some techniques to help promote healthy, happy and productive collaboration, starting with…
The creative process is a roller coaster ride of exploration, ideation and synthesis involving many co-workers, collaborators, stakeholders and randomers. During this journey, it is very easy for focus to blur, drive to go off-road, and for ideas to get lost in translation amid the many interactions, conversations and iterations.
Some of this confusion can be attributed to general miscommunication but the most guilty party is when there is a systemic lack of, or no communication between collaborators. The remedy to this is introducing and promoting a culture of proactive, ongoing, inclusive communication across the team.
On the ground this means keeping everyone involved on the project in the loop – about everything, all of the time! Don’t worry if the message or content isn’t perfectly relevant for everyone. The point is to ensure that everyone knows what is going on and that they are aware of everyone else’s roles are and what task each member of the group is currently working on. It’s much easier to skim an update email aimed at someone else then to be left out of the loop and have to catch up later. And from a project management perspective, it’s easier to say the same piece of information once to many as opposed to the time investment involved in keeping team members updated individually, not to mention catching them up if they are out of the loop.
Keep the entire team abreast of latest developments of the project by copious CCing in emails, making sure key documents are shared and editable by everyone and by ongoing short “refresh” meetings, like the informal morning stand up.
There are many benefits to including everyone in the ongoing story of the project:
- group cohesion is improved as everyone on the team is aware of how they fit in with the greater unit, which in turn raises motivation levels
- ongoing updates help to maintain the shared vision and group focus which will ensure everyone is working towards the same goals and objectives
- the potential for confusion is minimised as roles, responsibilities and day-to-day tasks are clarified and the opportunity to raise questions or issues is ever present
- it prevents team members from feeling excluded from having a part to play in the project
- duplication of work, tangents and unnecessary work is minimised
- tapping into and maximising the collective strengths of the group is great for unearthing more ideas and identifying more pain points too
Don’t be afraid to include stakeholders from the client’s team to be in the loop as well – you will save so much time on managing communications that can be better applied to other tasks.
Remember next time to click “reply all” instead of “reply” in an email. Branching our communications into parallel conversations is the enemy.
Next time… Effective Creative Collaboration: Don’t Assume