Taking a less formulaic approach to collaborative design

In undergraduate classes we are often given a rather formulaic, theoretical version of what the team design process looks like.  People are assigned roles, people are to defer criticism, a list of steps are executed, etc.  Yet, in reality, people never act quite as well as they do in theory.  This was part of the strength of the Collaboration in Design Teams paper, that the focus was less on high-minded steps and more on the social dynamic that goes into successful team design.  For instance, it states that certain team members can be expected to be advocating for concrete solutions from the beginning, something forbidden in brainstorming, but which is somewhat unavoidable in a group of problem solvers.  This is less of an issue so long as the team is properly balanced, with members who think at a more abstract level about a particular design choice, and a member who is willing to keep things on track.  The hardest part of creating a design team, then, is in selecting members that naturally fit these criteria, rather than attempting to force members into arbitrary roles.


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