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If there is one thing we yearn for the most as problem solvers here at Celedon Partners it is collaboration, it is an invaluable tool to our creative process. When we gather in a room, let the ideas flow, and work together to solve a problem; not only does it energize the team, it elevates the process and helps us all grow as designers, which ultimately results in better solutions being conceived and delivered.
Below are my 5 truths about collaboration that the Celedon design team brings to every project to help it succeed.
1. Never steam roll client’s ideas.
Value the partnership and working relationship between your team and your clients. Too many times I hear designers in the industry complain about the client. Have you stopped to ask yourself?
“Am I understanding my client’s needs?”
“Do I truly know what they are asking?”
“Have I painted the full picture to their problem?”
We want to improve our client’s products but we aren’t so foolish to believe that only our team may know the best solution. When clients work with us they know that they will have the opportunity for real input into their product. It’s through this collaboration and the back and forth that the magic starts to happen.
Clients want to be heard just like you and I. They want to influence their product and show their value. Don’t fight it, embrace it.
2. Don’t let job titles limit ideas.
As designers it’s our job to take ideas that are generated and explore if they are great or not because let’s face it, not all ideas are great and not all great ideas work. But you don’t discover great ideas by accepting or dismissing them solely based on a person’s role.
That is detrimental to collaboration and the creative process and you are basically saying “Oh you are an accountant? Yeahhhhh no that’s just not gonna work for this. Sorry not sorry.” That’s not how it works here. This will likely have a negative impact on the products quality and it only serves the ego of the designer.
Honestly, as designers getting additional feedback from non-designers provides valuable insight to the problem you are trying to solve and makes your life easier. Yes we may have to explore more ideas and filter the bad ones out, but we are getting great points of view we might not normally get. There is a great chance that the best solution could springboard from discussions you have with non-designers.
3. Encourage, promote, and foster collaboration.
Everyone can have great ideas. I think this is important enough that I will repeat myself. Everyone can have great ideas; however not everyone is expected to know how to implement them and that’s okay. Just make sure that you are fostering an environment that will enable people to provide their ideas.
The key here is to vet out as many ideas as possible so you can get to the really good ones. Only by exploring these ideas and utilizing the creative process can you make an educated decision if they are a great idea or not.
4. Include various departments.
Working on a project and failing to take in feedback from many departments of the company is a disservice to both the client and end-users. It is imperative to reach out to a variety of teams and get as much information as possible. Routinely involve customer service, sales, business development, marketing etc. in your projects. This will help you see a fuller view of the problem you are trying to solve. This is especially true with larger organizations where it is more likely that there is a communication breakdown within management.
Interviewing these various teams in the initial phases of the project is crucial when you are trying to get a full understanding of the problem needing to be solved. The teams from these departments have close interactions with the end-users and I can guarantee you that they have some ideas on how to improve the product.
5. Get to launch quicker.
Okay, so this is more of an outcome of collaboration more so than something you inject into your projects. Nonetheless, collaboration increases the ability to find solutions faster which enables you to prototype, test, & iterate quickly. This will allow you to go into development knowing you have vetted your solution in the early stages of the creative process which in turns shortens iterative processes when moving into development. This saves your client time and money while getting their products live faster.
Let’s have a discussion.
This of course is not everything, but it’s a start…there is a clear theme here and that is looking outside the inner circle of designers or a “design team” to generate ideas. I would love to hear how you foster collaboration. How is your company or you as an individual promoting collaboration? Do you feel it is as vital to your creative process? Please share your thoughts below.
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About the Author
Danny Johnson is the Lead UX Designer at Celedon Partners with 8 years of industry experience visually designing and building products for clients. He is passionate about discussing all things design and invites you to engage, challenge, and discuss your thoughts or ideas.