When tackling the dawn of new eras, some examples include the rapidly changing automotive industry’s transition into electric vehicles (EVs) to complex systems geared for the factories of tomorrow, these situations known to be in massive transformations are common themes that frequently arise. Often, working on them requires bringing together a collective of diverse disciplines and specialists to work collaboratively. From individuals to organisations who often have not previously worked together are now being put together to collaboratively tackle one or a few overarching issues that is typically a game changer to how we live, work or play. Collaborative practice is no longer just a nice-to-have for tomorrow’s designs but rather, it is becoming a necessity to drive the best results through shared ideas and an environment to positively challenge each other’s perspectives. As cliche as it might sound, it is the equation where 1 + 1 = 3.
Though collaborative teams in the architecture and design industry is not a new way of working, collaborative practices have often pulled together different expertise such as structural design, mechanical design, etc. The collaborative practices today appear to have moved in another trajectory. Where collaborations used to occur, it happened in a more multidisciplinary nature, whereas the collaborative practices today are somewhat more linear in their structure because of the changing demands of tomorrow’s issues. For example, an expert in two dimensional renderings collaborating with an expert in three dimensional animations working together to create a video.
Teams that are “large, virtual, diverse and composed of highly educated specialists” as quoted from an article on the Harvard Business Review are increasingly common scenes when tackling challenging projects. These challenging projects that are game changing are frequently in brand new territories where the issue on hand is complex, yet uncertain; the client’s brief for the project is merely a starting point which will be continually challenged. Collaborative teams are needed to tackle complex problems or relatively unknown areas such as in innovation projects. However, the article also touches upon the fact that those four characteristics highlighted above “make it hard for teams to get anything done.” According to the article, “the qualities required for success are the same qualities that undermine success.” This is key to understanding so the design teams for projects that have a clear demand for collaborative practice can be set up and encouraged by their leaders to consciously work towards breaking down those boundaries.
On encouraging collaboration, team members who have a clear understanding of their respective roles appear to thrive in collaborative practices. Through the questioning of things during the collaborative process, where each person’s contribution to a particular subset is clear, coupled with the engagement with others including clients, users and collaborators sets the right tone that allows the collaborative spirit to feed off each other. Collaborative practices allow that rigour to challenge the conventions, to learn from each other, to see things through a different perspective for a fresh take, to make new connections that are not immediately obvious to reveal the essence of something.
The start of unknown territories and an open client brief that is free for interpretation may seem slightly daunting, however, the potential of a project with a strong collaborative team working towards a common goal is an exciting one that I look forward to seeing unravel.