April 27, 2020
I came across this talk by Wilson Miner over the weekend about collaboration within design teams and our industry at large. It was a helpful reminder that the best work happens when people feel safe enough to build off each other's ideas.
When it comes to the best projects I've been a part of, I don't remember who came up with what idea or who designed what aspect of the final product. When design teams are performing at their best, ideas congeal together in a way that is almost impossible to separate. Individuals build off of one another in such quick succession that it's hard to keep track of who came up with what even in the moment.

Getting into this kind of collaborative headspace as a team is possible anywhere. It isn't easy, but I don't think it's complicated either. It requires each individual to sacrifice their ego, to have trust in one another (and the process), and to simply say "yes" to each other's perspectives. When done right, getting into this kind of groove for even just a few days can produce absolute magic.

This idea that I'm talking about can be found in many places. IDEO has championed the power of bringing together diverse teams. There's been a lot said about how Design Sprints can get you from almost nothing to a validated prototype in the matter of a few days. I'd argue that part of the secret sauce is that going at such a breakneck speed is a forcing function towards heavy collaboration. The Improv community has a long-held belief in the power of saying "Yes, And".

As much as we might always want to be the ones to have come up with something new, innovation almost always happens when people build off one another. So next time you're struggling to think of a new idea, don't be afraid to look at the person next to you and copy what they're doing. You might be surprised with what you come with it.