Similar to ericniu’s last post, our lunch roundtable veered in a similar direction. The “communication gap” is something we all seem to be struggling with in real time. I facilitated the session titled “Playing In, Around and Outside of Your Sandbox”—the premise being that firms are increasingly spreading their wings in related areas of expertise. But what the table all seemed to agree on was that there is a need for “next generation” talent in order to do this. We're all looking for people who can thrive in interdisciplinary situations and are self-motivated to innovate.
The communication issue is key. And I agree with the notion of creating a safe environment to help facilitate this dialogue—we need to do more here. Authentic collaboration is not neat and clean. It’s messy business. But with the right kind of environment and communication techniques, it can happen. Innovation only comes from the collaboration of interdisciplinary teams, even if the spark starts with an individual.
Back to our roundtable, we had a mix of folks from such diverse firms as Marriot, Closerlook, Ecco Design, Pathfinder and Doblin—but what we all had in common was this issue. How to get our teams to work this way—and what type of individual is needed at the ground level vs. the top tiers.
I see this in my practice as well (Experience Design for an interactive agency)—we have traditional copywriters, brand strategists, interaction designers, technologists, project managers and marketing people all mixing it up. Talk about messy. But on the rare occasion when we get to authentic collaboration—great things happen. I put together a simple visual model to illustrate the pieces that come from this collaboration—“T-Shaped Creativity”. T-Shaped Creativity is only possible when commincation is happening—the pieces that make up the "T" don't come from one person.
So a huge thanks to Roger for calling out the “elephant in the room”. It’s not enough to cheer on innovation—we need to figure out how to create environments where it can actually happen.