Cooper: How To Create Effective Design Teams

Great Read. Too often, we work alone. Great design is a collaboration, not a solo event.

In the design world, the idea of working in a “team” often provokes dread. Teams introduce overhead; they require communication; members often battle to see their ideas implemented. The end result of teamwork is often seen as compromise, i.e. as a “taco pizza,” i.e. a situation in which everyone (including the customer) loses.

On the other hand, there are  many examples of highly functioning creative teams, and my own experience tells me that a team approach can be vastly more efficient and effective than working solo. Who doesn’t want a well-matched partner to ensure that the ideas flow, the problem is considered from all angles, and dead-ends are avoided? And lets face it – some of the most interesting and important problems are too big to solve alone.

Still, how do you ensure that people with similar skills and interests will work well together?

You make sure that each team member knows and understands their responsibilities, that they enjoy giving up a little personal ownership for the benefit of others’ perspectives and skills, and that they deeply trust the other team members to play their parts. Without those fundamental qualities, the team is likely to go the way of Tolstoy’s unhappy families – division, mistrust, high drama. Good material for a novel, but bad for designing compelling products and growing a business.

Read on…