Building team cohesion through writing

22 January 2018
Leading Design

How we’re using writing to explore better ways of working together.

I’ve recently asked Firefly’s design team to give up some of their precious time in pursuit of writing short articles on Illuminated. Like all design teams they’re incredibly busy, so why add another distraction in the pursuit of something that — on the face of it—isn’t of strategic importance?

I’ve long been a fan of writing, maintaining my personal blog since 2005. It’s always been a way for me to solidify my thinking: I’ll often be better able to communicate an idea via the written word than I can verbally. I’d argue this is the same for most people. Spend time crafting an article about an idea and what that idea actually becomes clear.

Having a place we can share clarified thought is valuable.

Writing is, of course, not a single solution for building cohesion but it does tie in very nicely with some of the other things we regularly do as a team. Each Friday afternoon we down tools and come together for the Design Team Catch-up. This gives us an opportunity to share with the whole team what we’ve been working on, and others to give feedback. You hear a lot of really interesting off-the-cuff remarks in this meeting: Little nuggets of gold that sound interesting but are never explored further because of time constraints.

Having a place where ideas that might otherwise be lost can explored is valuable.

We’re not a large team. In addition to myself, there are three others. Even though these are extremely smart people, a team this small starved of any outside contact might start to form its own echo chamber. Luckily, that’s not the case. Everyone lives and breathes design so is inspired by countless other sources every day. We’re involved in our local design communities, attending events whenever we can. Illuminated is just another channel for sharing ideas: For building links with the wider community.

Have a place where we can engage with a large community of designers is valuable.

Finding the balance of giving people the space to explore an idea and not putting too much burden on them in terms of time commitment is tricky. That’s why we’re experimenting with short posts. Meaning that everyone is expected to spend a maximum of 30 minutes per week writing their post for Illuminated. The expectation is that the posts are designed to start the conversation. Perfection is not the aim.

Having a place where we can explore ideas quickly is valuable.

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