Join Turi McKinley for an in-depth discussion in this video Aligning the team, part of Design Thinking: Lead Change in Your Organization.
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- Our work is often only as good as the working relationship within the team. Setting up that relationship well at the start of a project and along the way can be easy for leaders to forget to do or feel we already know each other well enough that we don't need to do it. This means teams often kickoff projects or phases of work focused on the product or the goals and the needs of the people who use it but without aligning on the team member goals and the team member needs.
This team self-awareness is particularly important in the context of design thinking where people from different disciplines are collaborating in experimental iterations filled with a lot of creative ambiguity where we need to trust each other's intentions in order to manage the frustration that will show up. There are many avoidable issues that can arise over the course of a project. I'm sure you've heard variations of: "I didn't know you were going to be on vacation "the week before we present to the CEO" or "I'm trying to get better at research, "and I'd hoped someone would have coached me on my style" or "everyone's an extrovert, and I'm not.
"I had a hard time getting a word in edgewise" or worse for team trust: "Joe doesn't believe in what we're doing. "He's always late to our meetings." So I recommend that before you start any major project and when you bring new team members on you take the time to formally get to know each other and what you all seek from doing the project together. There are many ways and approaches for sharing these perspectives with each other. The key element of this relationship building is that it should focus on the team as individuals, rather than on the program goals.
For example, the activity should ask: what do you hope to get out of this effort? Rather than: what do you see as the mission for this effort? The 3 things I recommend any team alignment cover are: the personal goals and objectives for each person, their personal working styles and their pet peeves, and their personal needs that touch on the effort. Understanding each of these elements for your teammates will help build trust in each other, and this trust is crucial when the team gets into the complexity of a hard problem and the stress of deadlines loom.
This need exists even for teams where you know each other well and may think you're all aligned. Even if you worked on the same team for years, things change. It might be something in your family life. It might be a career goal or even a commitment to a new spin class that starts early in the evening. Let me give you an example. I was recently working on some educational software. It was a big, messy problem with lots of people involved: teachers, principals, students, parents, and the company we were working with.
It had a lot of research and a relatively fast timeline to turn around something great. So we were bringing somebody new onto the team, and we decided to do the team leap activity that I'll share with you in another section of this course. Through that activity, one of the team members who had felt to me like he really was engaged with the process and was on board with how we were working said that he was really struggling, he was stressed, and he wanted more structure in the team.
So we took that opportunity to talk about it, and we decided to try limiting our open collaboration times to about 50 minutes each, and then focus on the next 15 minutes after that to documenting what we'd learned from those last 50 minutes. I found that that practice helped me remember to step back to the big picture from the details and for all of us, at the end of each day, we could literally see everything that we'd accomplished.
So as a leader of design thinking, you need to support an environment of trust that enables good collaboration across the disciplines and sets the stage for creative experimentation and open thinking.
The course opens with a definition of design thinking, including the roles and spaces required for success. You will then learn how to be a good design thinking leader, with specific advice on topics from setting goals to engaging the different skill sets and personalities in the room (introverts and extroverts alike). Next, Turi dives into creative collaboration: the heart of design thinking. She covers planning, research, and concept creation, and explains how to create a "service blueprint" that will help make the design a reality. Chapter 4 introduces prototyping techniques to advance the design.
Design thinking is all about collaboration so we've integrated a LinkedIn Group called "Design Thinking: frog + Lynda.com course." Throughout the course, the author will suggest opportunities for you to share what you're learning. You'll be able to participate in course-related discussions through your web browser at https://linkedin.com/groups/7022790 or via the LinkedIn Groups app, which is available for most smartphones. This is a great way to expand your learning and get additional insights from other members taking the course.
- Defining design thinking
- Implementing a design thinking mindset and approach
- Leading design thinking
- Aligning the design team
- Managing creative flow
- Guiding collaboration
- Generating hypothesis
- Prototyping fast and often
- Making a culture change