Sometimes we fall in love with the idea of the lone innovator holed up in a laboratory to produce something brilliant. You can see it in the way we glorify the heroes of science, business, and engineering. In reality, though, most innovation comes from people working together to produce something that is greater than the sum of their individual talents or contributions. We see that every day for the teams who collaborate using the tools we build.
Engaged, uncompromised contribution should be the goal of every design team — and it’s vital that teams create an environment in which that kind of collaboration can thrive.Let’s look at 3 steps for enabling better collaboration within your product development team:
Step 1: Put everything in one place
When it’s feasible, it’s great to have your whole team working in a shared physical space, which helps foster clarity and prevents wasted time and effort. However, most teams nowadays are dispersed across multiple time zones. In addition, not all collaboration happens synchronously (that is, everybody in the team looking at the same thing at the same time) but at the convenience and availability of the various members of the team. So how do you bring them together?
Two things are needed: First, the technology to bring all resources and communication into one place and allows you to capture the decision making process and collaborate despite this dispersed nature. (You can guess that we spend a lot of time thinking about how to streamline that even more.) Second is the commitment that everyone in the team will use those tools so that all members can be kept up to speed, no matter where they are.
Step 2: Accommodate different roles and thinking styles
Not everyone is a designer, not everyone is an engineer, and not everyone is a project manager. That’s not only because of training or work experience, either; it also comes out of the different styles of thinking that people bring to their jobs. Far from being a problem, that diversity is actually a good thing because it helps teams attack problems — and come up with solutions — from many more angles.
When it comes to actual workflow, the members of your team are probably accustomed to using different applications and file types, and they likely need access to designs from different devices— desktop workstations versus wireless tablets, for instance. That’s the reality of the modern workforce and workplace: any device, anywhere, always on. Suddenly, companies have access to data and technology that lets them channel all of that healthy diversity into stronger designs. Then it’s just a matter of harnessing it.
Step 3: Shorten the distance from ideas to feedback
One of the greatest proponents of the fast iterative approach is Sir James Dyson, inventor of the famous vacuum cleaner. In a story that has become well-known in business circles, he went through 5,127 prototypes to get the design right for the first vacuum he brought to market. “Fail fast and fail often is the new mantra of modern product development teams.
That’s what you want on your team: an open approach to collaborative iteration that increases speed at the same time it reduces fear. Finding that sweet spot leads to even better feedback, tighter iterative loops, more focused group creativity, and — most of all — better products.
The Power of a Truly Collaborative Design Team
On a great product development team, everyone feels free to contribute by working from their particular strengths, but also accountable for the goal of developing the best products possible.
With the steps outlined here, you can help your team achieve that powerful state in which the output of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Enabling that for modern product development teams — global, distributed, connected, fast-evolving — is exactly why we created Fusion 360. And we want to know: what are YOU going to achieve with a team that has the power to be truly collaborative?
Learn more about Fusion 360 Collaboration & Manage features on our new website: www.autodesk.com/fusion360.