Following this week’s Collaboration Center discussions, I gained a little better insight into my own topic per peer and professor feedback. One thing that I was certain about, was that I wasn’t about to switch topics. At least not as of this week. Actually, I feel a little more confident about my topic: Maximizing team dynamics.
What exactly does this mean? I spent at least two hours exploring keywords and categories to get a better understanding of what comprised of “team dynamics” from past research and experience (combined). Such insights also helped to address Clark’s set of questions in Chapter 3, as follows:
1. What is already known about this topic?
Topic: Team Dynamics. I addressed this question by first outlining any or all keywords and placing each into categories (Thesis Word List). This enabled me to frame my topic a little better insight to determine what I could expand upon. One peer’s reaction to my topic was, “This seems to be leaning more toward sociology than it is design.” I would completely agree, however allow me to frame my topic within its context, as addressed in the next set of questions…
2. What would someone in the field like to investigate further?
In the field of graphic design, team dynamics is an essential component for the sake of feedback, stimulation, expansion, sharing of knowledge and the potential to discover innovative solutions. Let’s face it, without one another, we are left creating similar results over and over – perhaps, without ever realizing it for ourselves. Another aspect of team dynamics in the field of sociology is that graphic designers are not trained to deal with internal, social dysfunction. While we are often analyzing external factors of social, cultural and communicative components, we often overlook our own internal deficiencies. However, we damn well complain about these to the point of exhaustion or changing career paths. The cliché has been placed before us: artists and designers aren’t always easy to “get along with.” Why is that?
Team dynamics applies to just about any and every professional field as well. My focus, however, is to dissect what makes team dynamics successful within a creative, graphic design (thinking) team. On the surface, I’m wanting to explore more into the personalities that make up a creative persona. Equally so, how these personalities need to coexist amongst personas of an opposite caliber – primarily, management lacking a creative background, facilitators that are power-hungry or over-competitive colleagues that risk everything to fulfill their own agenda. These personas could be considered more problematic than the “misunderstood artist.”
3. What question can I ask that will lead me to find out more about this topic?
Intangible components, such as: learning styles, valuing or interpreting information, personality traits, experience, open-mindedness and willingness to collaborate; are rarely tracked during the process of collaboration. Wanting to know more about these components inspires me to find out how each can build successful, functional team dynamics.
Another way to look at it is, because others agree that they experience successful collaboration within a team, doesn’t exactly mean that they know why each individual is successful. The same could be said for dysfunctional dynamics. How are functional or dysfunctional team dynamics proven? What good would become of finding a means of restricting or minimizing these types of barriers in order to nurture progression?
One peer addressed this stereotype during our discussion as a basis for her own topic: discovering how others perceive graphic designers and the challenges of bringing awareness to what a designer does (and thinks). I think about this in terms of designers collaborating with other designers, as it’s assumed that just because you are creative that there is a natural relationship in place.
4. What method can I use to find an answer to this question?
A few dominant corporations come to mind when wanting to know more about their own team dynamics: Google, Apple and IDEO. What do all three have in common? Each has experienced and created innovative solutions based upon diverse, team dynamics. Another method is exploring articles from design thinking experts, such as: Tim Brown, Jeff Conklin, Roger Martin, John Camillus and Hugh Dubberly. While I have read many articles leading up to my topic, I may benefit looking at sociological leaders and articles too. Another idea, would be to conduct my own research with a team that has little or no experience working with one another, as opposed to a team that is all too familiar with each other (iterative).
Finding existing surveys or data about team dynamics is a must, yet finding how to expand upon such data will be a time-intensive exploration. I think that all in all, what I’m really after is harmony. I can’t expect to solve team dysfunctionality, as I don’t believe that there is an all-in-one solution. There are experts for “fixing” these problems. What I can expect to achieve is getting a better idea of what contributes toward functional dynamics versus knowing (through experience) what contributes toward dysfunctional dynamics. My own biases will definitely need to also be outlined and kept at close distance throughout my exploration process.