[PM]Four Essential Members of a Great Design Team

Four Essential Members of a Great Design Team

Have you ever wondered why you can successfully collaborate with another designer in your office? Maybe you share similar ideas, but there’s also a good chance you’re nothing alike. At Kaleidoscope, some of the designers (including me) are organized and analytical. Others think freely and contextually. How can we coexist? My analytical thinking pushed me to break down and understand how these differences can be complementary. What I ultimately realized is that a successfully diverse design team requires four key members.

The Evangelist
A design team without a visionary leader is like a church without a preacher. The Evangelist focuses on design at the highest level, developing strategies and processes that push the limits of design and business as a whole. Contextual thinking helps him understand how design fits into a larger business plan. As a former Dreamer, he loves to push the boundaries and question assumptions of the products and categories he leads. The Evangelist won’t ever be an operations specialist, and may even lead activities that feel counterproductive to more analytical thinkers. Although possibly his greatest challenge, he will come through in the end and prove that his dreaming offers real business value. With a great Evangelist leading the charge, firms can be proactive, trendsetting, and highly valued for their ideas.

The Conductor
To complement the Evangelist, every design team needs a leader who directs the finishing touches on each project. The Conductor’s analytical mind helps her to ensure that no detail goes unconsidered. Like directing an orchestra, she brings together all the little details into harmony, making sure everything has been figured out and nothing taken for granted. She probably has the highest standards of any designer in the office and ensures that every project is top quality. Often the team doing the first 95% of the work is exhausted or checked out by the end, and the Conductor plays a key role in making the final push to finish the project right. In more corporate roles, she shepherds projects through to production and defends key design details that might otherwise be lost. The Conductor may wish she was still a designer, struggling to find the appropriate level of feedback or adding unnecessary work for her team. At her best, the Conductor is the key to creating consistently solid work that will have clients or consumers coming back for more.

The Dreamer
When analytical minds struggle with paradoxical design constraints, the Dreamer cuts through it all to offer a surprisingly fresh attitude. He avoids the technical boundaries of a project in favor of contextual experimentation. A great design team deploys Dreamers to brainstorms where blue sky thinking is necessary, and keeps them involved when the end product must push category boundaries or create brand new ones. The Dreamer becomes easily frustrated when not allowed to exercise fantasies, so don’t expect him to handle detail-oriented work or anything that is heavily constrained by technical requirements. The wild ideas he contributes won’t always become part of the final product, but the Dreamer is essential in setting the stage for innovation as well as offering an entertainment value to novelty-seeking design managers.

The Surgeon
Whether it comes down to aesthetic or ergonomic excellence, so many great pieces of design rely on details. A great design team relies on the Surgeon – an analytical thinker who cuts up and dissects design problems to find the best solutions. By definition, she breaks down a product into its components, considering the pieces of design and then reuniting them into a cohesive whole. The Surgeon isn’t always the best decision maker, because she can end up thinking in circles or frustrated by a project’s lack of clarity. When it comes to making sense of complex design problems, a Surgeon is your best bet to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

The Jack of All Trades (Master of None?)
Every team has designers with diverse skill sets, but the Jack of All Trades might be the most talented person in your office because he can truly do everything. He leads a range of projects, solves tricky problems, and dreams up big ideas. Recent graduates make great “Junior Jacks,” because they can contribute on a variety of levels while they gain experience and become more aware of their greatest strengths. Don’t confuse a real Jack with someone whose strengths are not prevalent or ambiguous. In reality, the rare Jack of All Trades might not be essential to have, but will feel essential to any team that has one.
I hope this helps you make better sense of how you and the people around you fit into a design organization. How well do the designers you know fit into these buckets? How could this concept be stronger? In coming posts, I’ll look at how different combinations of these five members help execute the different strategies that design businesses use.


在Kaleidoscope(pavdow附:一家美国设计公司,原文作者现在工作的地方——http://www.kascope.com/), 包括我在内一些设计师善于分析和理性思考,而另外一些则是思想奔放喜欢感性的思考。我们是如何相处共存的呢?理性地分析让我明白不同设计师之间如何互补, 最终让我意识到一个成功的设计团队需要有4种关键的成员。


设计团队没有一个具有远见的领袖,就像一个教堂里没有牧师。他在最高层面关注设计,发展策略和推动设计与商业一体化进程。直觉思维使他知道如何把设计自然 而然地融合到庞大的商业计划里面。他是从“狂想者”成长起来,所以他热衷把他带领负责的产品和项目覆盖范围尽量扩大,并探索更多的可能方向。“布道者”绝 不会去做技术能手,甚至会领导一些在常人眼里看来不可完成的任务。尽管肩负众多挑战,但往往最终他不但完成了而且达到了他所期望的真正价值高度。在优秀的 “布道者”带领下,团队往往是具有前瞻性,突破性和高创意价值。

作为“布道者”珠联璧合的补充,设计团队需要一个脚踏实地指导完成具体项目的领导,条理化的思维帮助她确保任何细节都不会出现偏差。就像指挥一个乐团,她 把各种不同小节有条不紊地融合贯穿成协调的乐章,确保每个音符都经得起推敲,绝没有任何的偏离。她高标准严要求,以确保每个项目都是最高质量。一些团队往 往项目进行到95%时已精疲力尽或就此结束,而“乐团指挥”则扮演了推动项目最终顺利完成的重要角色。在更多时候,她指导项目进入生产,并确保很多容易被 人忽视的关键细节的到位。她也许希望自己还是个设计师,努力做到精益求精或者更多的份外工作。她发挥稳定,是切实工作和带来利益的关键。

當理性思維和變幻無常的設計需求碰撞的時候,“狂想者”往往可以打破困境,顯示出驚人的創造熱情。他更傾向于相信直覺而避開項目中的技術限制。優秀的設計 團隊讓狂想者去天馬行空的頭腦風暴是必要的,當產品需要有突破或新的方向的時候,他們是最合適的人選。沒有幻想的平淡工作會讓他感到痛苦和易受挫折,所以 不要期望他去操作任何細致繁瑣的工作或者過分技術要求的工作。他開闊的創意不會最終全部都成為現實產品,但思維活躍者對于建立一個創新的環境,以及需要創 新價值的設計管理者們至關重要。

(原文the surgeon——直譯為外科手術師,特指精湛技藝,思維冷靜的人——明白為啥美國打伊拉克叫做“外科手術式”的打擊了吧)
無論是想要精湛的美學還是人機功學,如此眾多的優秀設計作品都依賴于各種細節工作。一個偉大的團隊需要技術專家——一個善于分析的理性思維者,她善于細致 分解和剖析設計問題,并找到最好的解決方案。就像她的名字一樣,她把一個物品細細拆分開來,認真研究每個設計部分,然后再把它們天衣無縫地重新組裝起來。 技術專家并不總是最好的決策者,因為她不能停止嚴密的思維邏輯,或者因為項目暫時沒有足夠清晰的定義而不知所措。去解決一個現實的復雜設計難題,那么技術 專家將是你在確保一切天衣無縫的最好人選。

每個團隊都有各種技能不同的設計師,但全能選手可能是辦公室里那個最有才華的人,因為他可以面面俱到。他領導者一系列的項目,處理各種棘手的難題,同時還 有驚人的想法。現在的畢業生們很多就是“初級全能選手”,因為當他們積累了足夠經驗并意識到自己的偉大能量,就可以在多重層面發揮作用。不要把正真的高人 和故弄玄虛的“大師”混淆。在現實中,稀缺的全能高手不一定是團隊必須的,但一但擁有,就會知道他的必要性了。



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