The Key to Successful Collaboration

Great designers empower their teams to bring ideas to life

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” -Aristotle

Collaboration is a practice where individual contributors work as a team to achieve a certain goal. It relies on the individual qualities such as self-organization, motivation, engagement and ability to deliver the work. It is essential to be focused and open in order to collaborate successfully.

The magic of a collaborative environment creates real value and enables the team to deliver the work faster. Collaboration brings alignment between team members on product goals, removes roadblocks such as unnecessary debates, and increases productivity so that the team can get their product into the hands of users faster.

To be a collaborative team player you should understand the perspectives, goals, and objectives of your team members. Your Project Manager cares about shipping the right product in a timely manner but your engineers want to deliver quality code that is functional and reliable at scale. At the end of the day we all are working towards one goal : making a successful product. It’s often the designer who can make this process smooth and effective.

Collaborate with your teammates to reach product goals

“We’ve executed many successful projects where we supported each other within the design team and learned from working closely together.”

Collaboration is act of balance

Being a collaborative designer doesn’t mean you agree with everyone all of the time. Neither does it mean to ignore the ideas of others. To collaborate means to work together as a team; to ideate, learn and iterate. Have a conversation!

If you feel strongly about a certain idea/product/feature work with your team to define what it means to execute on it — how much effort is required? What value will it bring to the business? As a designer, you are responsible for communicating your ideas to your teammates and proving they are worth pursuing.

For a designer, it is tempting to get into a creative groove and re-design the product from the ground up. You might even strongly believe that this is what the product needs. But if you want to be perceived as a team player, be heard and be considered when the next big decision for the product is made — have a conversation with your teammates why you believe that it’s what the product needs.

How to create a collaborative environment?

  1. Make people feel included. Every opinion counts even if it’s not along the same lines as yours. In fact, especially then.
  2. Debate if you disagree. But please don’t bring a paintbrush to a gunfight.
  3. Seek for honest and open feedback. This is how we grow and become better inside and outside of the work environment.
  4. Show an example of how to be a good team player. Your teammates will appreciate your honesty, openness and ability to compromise when possible.
  5. Share the knowledge. If you came across a certain problem before and have experience solving it, share your wisdom! If you’ve picked up some new tools, or want to teach your engineering team some new Sketch tricks, set some time aside to teach people what you’ve learned. Your contribution to the team’s “knowledge base” won’t be unnoticed.

This article was originally published on Julia’s Medium page.

Design @Airbnb 🌿 Founder of @saisonmag • Previously: @Twitter, @Shyp

Related Posts

Collaboration between designers and developers is essential for creating great products. Every company has different organizational structures for designers and developers. Some companies have designers and developers on two separate teams. Those development teams may also break up developers in sub-teams as well. For example, they may separate by front-end developers and back-end developers. In other companies, designers and developers… Read More →

A good product is a lot about the problem that you pick & the ideas that you implement. But a well-sorted & deliberate design-development process can play more than a handy role; ironing out quite a few wrinkles that can cause unnecessary escalations and ad-hoc duct-taping later during the execution phase. “As designers, we are the guardians of execution and… Read More →

A mechanical engineer by training, I’ve always chaffed at using the word process to describe something as messy and nonlinear as design. At MIT, I learned about processes for solving problems like how quickly heat moves through a block of metal, or how to calculate the impedance in an electrical circuit. To me, a process is something with a set… Read More →