the magic of teams

I have had some of the most gratifying creative experiences working within a team. Although I do enjoy the solitary pursuit of a creative endeavor, there is always a time when the work I do, either before, during or after my process, is improved upon by the input of other people. Moreover, there are many projects that I have worked on that just wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of a team. The results that we achieved were produced by many minds and many skills coming together to produce a response to a particular situation. As I like to say, we built peaks among our collective knowledge.

What kind of team member are you?
I have found that working in a team can be an organic process, and that being adaptable can be very helpful. Being able to pick up new skills, adjust to changing schedules or new deliverables, and work with sometimes unfamiliar processes is key in keeping the flow going in a team environment. The less friction I create by being adaptable, the more energy the team will have to get on with the creative process.

A supportive nature is also very helpful. Each team member will encounter unique challenges in their daily tasks, and being there to lend a hand, an ear or another point of view, can really help someone when they are stuck or feeling overwhelmed. I find that kind of energy is circular, in that if you are willing to give it, it will come back to you when you need it too.

I am also a very motivated team member, especially when a common purpose and objectives have been determined. I strive to do the very best I can, to move the project forward, and to maintain momentum to get a project completed. Sometimes motivation is lost, and it’s difficult to get back once it’s gone. It’s magic when every other team member has the same verve.

Finally, I am very reliable. I will fulfill my responsibilities to the best of my abilities, and hit those deadlines that are so necessary for project completion. It is a wonderful feeling to know that you can rely on your team members to have their work completed, it builds an incredible amount of trust, which is necessary for team synergy.

What types of contributions can you make to a design research team?
I have had a lot of experience in the design research realm, which translated into many skills and lessons learned. From sticky noting to script writing, interviewing and documentation, I can hit the ground running in a research project. Of course, there is so much more to learn! But the experiences I have had come with a nice amount of mistakes made (!), an understanding of how much time something may take, and multiple approaches with people that can help solve any foreseen risks. This experience also helps if things start to go sideways, a calm team member can go a long way to keep things on an even keel until the project is back on track.

I’m a very curious person. I am fascinated by a design problem space, and I want to know as much as I can about the situation as I can know. I like to get inside the situation so I can understand and develop the needed empathy to truly design something meaningful. I think my curiosity also leads me to seek out resources and tools that could augment our inquiries. I love to find relevant books in other disciplines that could provide insight, or software that can help us do our jobs easier, faster and better.

Through the few experiences I have had, I have collected a nice amount of materials that can be used for design research. I have a massive collection of sharpie pens and sticky notes in a rainbow of colours. I have a great archive of templates, such as personas, experience maps, and report and presentation formats, that we can use to riff on to present our findings. I also have a nice collection of software for creating maps, as well as some good reference books and websites that illustrate some excellent methods for research.