Sneak Preview of Design Leadership Workshop at the IA Summit
The hardest part of design isn’t doing the design. It’s working with everyone else without wanting to run screaming for the hills.
Collaborating with smart people on challenging problems is, inevitably, fraught with conflict. Conflict can be good for creative work, moving a project forward as designers wrestle with the challenge. But not all conflict is healthy, and frankly most designers aren’t, shall we say, diplomats.
Later in March, I’m facilitating a workshop at the IA Summit on managing conflict in creative workplaces. As part of that workshop, we’ll look at the Situations – Patterns – Traits model I devised for evaluating and tackling difficult scenarios.
Managing Conflict through Patterns
Surviving Design Projects is, among other things, a little game based on that model to help designers hone their people skills. The current version of the game consists of two decks of cards: Patterns and Situations.
Situation are typical scenarios on design projects. They’re things like not having all the right inputs or working with a poorly defined business strategy.
Patterns are behaviors you can use to address these difficult situations. There are some classic ones like reflecting back what you heard to show that you’re listening, as well as some others I’ve gathered over the years.
How to Play
First, get a group of 5 co-workers together. Deal everyone 3 Pattern cards. Pick one person to be the Creative Director.
The Creative Director turns over the first Situation card and makes up a story about the scenario on it. Let’s say I turn over Lack of Clearly Defined Inputs. Maybe I make up this story:
Next, each player chooses a Pattern card from their hand and places it face-up next to the Situation card. Each player then describes how to apply his or her Pattern to the Situation. Let’s say one player uses “Make Educated Guesses” and describes it like this:
The Creative Director chooses which technique she would use to deal with the situation. The person who suggested the pattern gets to keep the Situation card.
At the end of the game, the person with the most Situation cards is the winner. Everyone else needs to buy him a beer. The real point, though, is to engage in a conversation in how to deal with difficult situations. The deck includes a card to encourage a discussion at the end of the game about the different situations and patterns.
So that’s it. It’s a pretty simple game, but it will definitely get you and your team talking about difficult situations in a no-strings environment.