Design Thinking – Collaboration
Kyle Maxey posted on November 16, 2012 |

Now that you’ve digested the expectation of your core user group, and created a design statement to guide your Product Concept Design cycle, it’s time to begin using that information.

As engineers and designers we live in a world surrounded by peers that have similar educational backgrounds. On top of that, sometimes we work within company cultures that can sometimes create a “group-thinking” atmosphere.  

Needless to say, that type of environment doesn’t lend itself to creating breakthrough design innovations.  To break away from this insulation you need to begin reaching outside of your sphere and collaborating.

How Do I Collaborate Effectively?

We all have a good idea about what collaboration is, but doing it in an effective manner requires carefully selecting people from outside the design and engineering community that can help you further understand the problems your design will solve. To make sure that you’re choosing the right candidates, and also getting the most out of your collaborative efforts, you should consider the following:

1. Clarify Your Purpose – Before you begin approaching potential collaborators, know what the goals are for your collaboration.  Will it be a long term venture? What are your collaborator’s responsibilities? What questions do you want them to help answer? Defining the goals of your collaboration will set you up for success and also point you towards the right candidates for your project.

2. Communicate Effectively – It might seem obvious, but one of the keys to successful collaboration is providing every member in your team with all of the information that they need.  If everyone isn’t on the same page ideas can be missed and the potential for collaborative success decreases.

3. Understanding Culture – While it might seem odd to say that “understanding culture” has something to do with collaboration, think about it for a second.  The people that you choose to collaborate with might be from places far-removed from your environment. Understanding where they come from and how they come to their ideas can lead to further insight in your collaborative efforts.

Following these three steps will increase the effectiveness of your collaborations and also give your Product Concept Design cycle greater potential to create meaningful, innovate products.

In out next article we’ll talk about the next step in the Design Thinking methodology, Integrative Thinking.


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