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Collaboration Workshop: What description do you like best?

August 31, 2012

Hi! Hope you can help me. I’m creating a new half-day workshop on collaboration, giving designers some ideas on how to work together better. I’ve got two possible descriptions for the workshop. Both are accurate summaries of the exact same workshop, with different emphases. Which do you like better?

Option A: Aspects of Collaboration

The world seems intent on classifying people as introverts or extroverts. And people who strongly identify with each group seem intent on defending their way of life.

The truth is that humans are far more complex, and that regardless of preference you have to work with other people. Collaboration is here to stay.

But how does collaboration work? What makes it work? Why is it deceptively hard?

Most organizations assume that people know how to work together. They assume that such skills are either innate or taught during childhood. If your experience was anything like mine, you didn’t get Collaboration 101 in college. No, you were taught how to work with other people by being thrown into the deep end.

And now, we all have some bad habits to unlearn.

The focus of this workshop is to learn essential behaviors for successful collaboration. We’ll provide context by:

  • Validating the need for collaboration
  • Debunking the myths of collaboration
  • Dismantling the obstacles that prevent collaboration
  • Describing the four aspects of positive collaboration

The four aspects of positive collaboration are:

  • Definition & Clarity: Everyone must have a shared understanding of the work
  • Accountability & Ownership: Everyone must understand their role and each other’s roles
  • Awareness & Respect: Everyone must treat other members of the project team respectfully
  • Openness & Honesty: Everyone must be as transparent as possible

Behaviors that embody these aspects generally yield positive outcomes. Though this workshop, we’ll identify and discuss such techniques and how to integrate them into your process.

Option B: Collaboration Framework

More than ever before, web design demands active and pervasive collaboration. With the complexity and extensive integration of online services design teams must work together effectively. Gone are the days when dropping a set of wireframes over the wall was the extent of my collaboration.

Successful collaboration relies on a harmony between three things:

  • Tools: the techniques, applications, and methods we use to support collaboration
  • Mindset: our attitude and preferences that guide our choices for how we approach work
  • Culture: the ecosystem of policies, incentives, and peer pressure that provide context for our work

Each of the elements in the tools-mindset-culture triplet must be structured to enable collaboration without overpowering individual contributions.

In this workshop, we will:

  • Learn skills for listening better, and behaviors that impair our ability to listen
  • Consider the obstacles that prevent people from using collaboration effectively
  • Examine designers’ insecurities and frustrations that often prevent them from working together effectively
  • Discuss techniques (tools), attitudes (mindset), and organizational policies (culture) that yield positive collaboration
  • Identify day-to-day behaviors that designers can adopt to improve their working relationships

You will come away from the workshop with a collection of new skills to try on your next project, whether you’re working one-on-one with a client, or on a large multi-disciplinary design team.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 31, 2012 7:35 pm

    Personally I like the second description better – the transitions on the first are a bit rough. Sounds like it’ll be a great workshop, either way!

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