08 January 2007

Building a killer team for innovation part (3 of 6)

Workplace. I do not think that the specifics of the environment are terribly important. My personal preference is for warehouse space over cubicles… but it is just not that important. The right tools to do the job (hardware and software) are about not letting process get in the way. Yes they can help position you in front of clients but that is not about team management. I will say that a great chair is worth a lot in terms of endurance. Speaking of endurance… let go of that monster volume work ethic. Establish a maximum number of hours that you allow the team in the office. Why? Because burnout is a huge problem with self motivated people. Further, designers and innovators need a life. I don’t mean they appreciate a life, I mean they absolutely have to have a life. It is an essential source of inspiration, motivation and insight. Without a life a designer is crippled.

Make it business like, but make it fun. Give your people enough responsibility that they are challenged. Good people will not stay for long at a job they have already mastered. Don’t push innovation, make room for it. Many ideas that immediately seam worthless to me, or that I do not like, turn out to be pretty good. The resistance is often a result of challenging our preconceived notions. This is a good thing… don’t waste it.

Lastly, assign (or let them choose) each team member an area of expertise. Let them become the “go to” person regarding a particular discipline, tool or process. I like the notion that designers are “T shaped” people (borrowed from IDEO, Cooper?). Help them to deepen their vertical specialty.