Intentional collaboration

The benefits of an open and honest shared space.

Being a designer at Campaign Monitor means there is never a shortage of work coming my way. I find it can be very easy to put my headphones on and sit in a quiet corner of the office in an effort to get as much work done as I can.

The problem is that it’s just too easy to disconnect from the team.

Although my actual desk is only an arms lengths from the other designers in the team, I can get lost in my own work (or the sheer amount) without taking a look around to see what my team, and the other designers in the company, are doing and how we can help each other out.

In response to this isolation, the designers of Campaign Monitor have been picking up computers and sitting in an shared space without temptation of headphones or isolation. This time of intentional collaboration provides a forum for healthy design conversation, inspiration, and a taste of what’s going on within the different designers and teams in the company.

So often, I hear that collaboration is a positive in the design process. Gathering ourselves together with the intent of transparency and collaboration has been really helpful for me to actually identify ‘why’ it can be so positive.

It’s a safe space

Design is a process. It can be messy, long and iterative. There are times when design feedback is essential to the success of a project but there will be times when design should have some breathing room.

Our design collaborations are a safe space to share ideas without the fear of feedback or limitations. I can throw something out there, ask people to jam on it and see where you end up without holding the ideas back before they (Orlando) bloom.

Clarity on issues

Usually, I’m talking about projects in their current state to the people who have been as heavily involved as I am, revising the last design or talking about the latest round of feedback. I often don’t get a chance to recap how I arrived at a certain point in a project.

Sometimes I run into roadblocks due to the fact I’m too close to the project–I can’t see the whole problem clearly. Explaining the problem and it’s context to fresh eyes/ears can help bring understanding of why the problem arose and give a clear vision on what the solution is. Sometimes I get a solution to the problem before you’e even finished asking the question.

Teamwork for the win

As a design team, success in one person’s design is ultimately the team’s success too. Sharing what I’m working on with the other designers on the team helps me consider my own work holistically. It allows me to make connections between my work and the other projects in the team I might not have known or even seen until both designs were shipped. Seeing things as they progress help me marry my ideas with the team, producing a consistent and seamless design experience. I can’t consider everything so the more eyes on it, the better.

At times, the simple act of being around other designers can spark creativity. Being around a group of like-minded people can be enough to help motivate even the most seasoned designers. If that’s not enough, then sharing my work with the people around me might spark a conversation or some simple feedback that wouldn’t have happened without an open and honest space. It may not always be revolutionary, but good design is considerate of many perspectives, rather than just one.