"While I’ve learned many of these practices along my career, I’d never seen them as clearly named, explained, and taught as they are here."
~ Scott Berkun, from the foreword
Successful creative work depends on collaboration and conflict. Being a designer today means working well on a team, which means knowing how to collaborate and knowing how to deal with conflict.
Collaboration is working together to produce something. Incorporating collaboration requires more than a brainstorming meeting. It demands team-wide behaviors that support clarity, accountability, and respect.
Meanwhile conflict, despite its negative reputation, is the engine of design. It is through conflict that designers validate and elaborate their ideas.
Designing Together teaches designers how to be better collaborators and how to navigate difficult situations. In 240 pages, it's the course offered in no design school -- how to work with other designers to maximize efficiency and quality.
This book is about how to be a great contributor to creative projects.
Not at all. There are lots of great books out there on how to structure and manage projects. This is a book about how to work together better.
Depends on how you define design technique, right? Creative work is infamously dominated by strong personalities, opinionated people, and rampant defensiveness. Yet as design projects become more complex, and as design becomes even further central to business success, creative work demands a balance between the highest quality and effective collaboration.
Brainstorming is really only a small piece of the puzzle. Working on a creative team means communicating clearly about plans and expectations, defining roles and responsibilities, and managing overlapping responsibilities. It also means dealing with rampant disagreement. Disagreement is good for design, but it still requires some effort and skills to navigate.
The book covers conflict and collaboration by establishing a vocabulary to talk about team dynamics. After establishing the framework, the book provides a mini-encyclopedia including:
Totally! You'll find contributions from David Belman (ThreeSpot), Mandy Brown (Editorially), Erika Hall (Mule Design), Denise Jacobs (author and teacher), Jonathan Knoll (InfinityPlusOne), Marc Rettig (Fit Associates), Jeanine Turner (Georgetown University).
Plus, it has a foreword from Scott Berkun. (I still can't believe I get to say that.)
The book is available on Amazon. You should totally buy a copy. What are you waiting for?
Surviving Design Projects is a card game for designers to help practice their conflict management skills. Presented with a conflict scenario, players have to suggest a way to improve the situation through different "patterns".
Patterns are simple behaviors designers can apply to situations to diffuse and redirect conflict to be productive.
The game is an excuse for designers to tell war stories, reflect on their more difficult projects, and have a laugh at their own expense. Some people find that fun.
The game is published by print-on-demand vendor The Game Crafter. Buy the game from them, and let 'em know that Dan sent you.
Dan Brown is co-founder and principal at EightShapes, LLC, a user experience consulting firm based in Washington, DC that has engaged with clients in telecommunications, media, education, health, high-tech, and other sectors. Dan has been practicing information architecture and user experience design since 1995.
You can follow Dan on Twitter @brownorama.