Tools Are Not Enough – More Effective Collaboration on UX Teams

About the Presenter
dan-by-jared-600x600In 2006, Dan Brown co-founded EightShapes, a design firm based in Washington, DC. EightShapes designs responsive web sites and establishes design standards for Fortune 500 clients. Most recently, Dan has conducted user research for a liberal arts college, prepared a mental model for a health care consulting company, and lead the design of a responsive dashboard for a software company.  Dan’s written two books, Communicating Design and Designing Together, which deal with the communications and collaboration on design teams.

Tools Are Not Enough – More Effective Collaboration on UX Teams

Like many designers, you may wonder, “How can my team collaborate better?” “Basecamp” doesn’t sufficiently answer the question. Nor does “Skype.” Great collaboration isn’t just about using better tools. Instead, it depends on clarity, accountability, awareness, and openness. Teams seeking to fine-tune their collaboration must incorporate these virtues into their tools, attitudes, and environment.

Ask seasoned designers about effective collaboration, and they might mention their favorite project management or communications tool. They might tell you about their favorite brainstorming or group facilitation technique. Yes, these tools and techniques are essential to productive collaboration, but they’re not the whole story.

Great design teams embody four virtues of collaboration (clarity, accountability, awareness, and openness) through their ABCs: attitudes, behaviors, and culture.

Attitude: The way individual designers perceive working with their colleagues.
Behaviors: The way individual designers engage with their colleagues.
Culture: The framework established by the organization for working together.

In this session, Dan Brown (author of Designing Together: The collaboration and conflict management handbook for designers) focuses on Behaviors and Culture, and how teams can embody the four virtues of collaboration. We will talk about how multidisciplinary teams need to:

State their needs and ideas clearly (clarity)
Take responsibility for their actions (accountability)
Be aware of constraints with the project, their customers, and their team (awareness)
Listen openly to constructive feedback (openness)

At the same time, great teams cultivate collaboration by:

Prioritizing clearly defined projects (clarity)
Establishing understandable roles and responsibilities (accountability)
Keeping everyone apprised of changes in the project (awareness)
Rewarding constructive criticism and listening (openness)

By the end of this session, participants will understand how to recognize the four virtues of collaboration on their projects. They will have specific behaviors they can add to their repertoire to be better contributors on a multidisciplinary team.

This session suitable for designers of all experience levels, leaders and contributors alike.