20 Ways to Protect and Nurture Design

Lorna Ross, a design manager at Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation (That’s a place I would love to visit!), shares with Helen Walters insights on running a small design team within a very large organization. Lots of great tips and insights filled with wisdom that can also be applied in a consulting context as well. I’ve shamelessly reproduced it here for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

1) Move beyond needing to be understood. Focus on being valued.
2) Do not react to every situation. By allowing the dynamics to play out there is deeper learning. Designers self regulate through experience.
3) There is a thin line between being understood and being irrelevant. (If busy people have to validate you they will opt to ignore you instead and move on.)
4) Get your team comfortable with discomfort.
5) You may want to direct the work but your team may need you more as a decoy. Go where the need is greatest.
6) Make every team member feel empowered, trusted, respected…. and accountable.
7) Communicate zero tolerance for liabilities. One dysfunctional person can bring down your whole team, and you.
8) Never make excuses for your team. You will be seen as biased.
9) Make difficult and unpopular decisions with the same confidence and conviction that you make the easy ones.
10) Do not get too wrapped up in being liked by your team. They need you less as a friend and more as a leader.
11) Examine your own prejudices.
12) Scare everyone you hire. Carefully design the most effective interview process to really know who you are bringing onto your team.
13) Pay close attention to feedback and always be seen to value it.
14) Choose your battles. Know what you can affect and what you cannot.
15) The almost toxic levels of adrenaline needed to function in “hostile” or chaotic environments can tip a team into “battle mode” where there can be considerable collateral damage. It is your job to watch for this and interrupt it very carefully.
16) In a conservative culture, passion, determination and conviction can often be perceived as arrogance. Humility is a skill that you and your team need to master.
17) Value integrity and honest above everything else. Trust amongst the group is critical.
18) Learn to function without praise or validation. Not because you don’t deserve it but because it may never come. Determine and declare your own success metrics.
19) Never wait to be surprised by feedback. Seek it out.
20) Never gossip. It’s a luxury you cannot afford.

Via: Thought You Should See This.

2 Comments
  • Jan

    November 10, 2011 at 4:32 pm Reply

    How small is a small design Team, …
    We are two people more or less equal rights no boss but a hostile enviroment. …
    Some things are true others do not aply if you have no boss, and you are your own boss in a big company.
    2. 14. 18. I can aproove without hesitation.
    regards Jan

  • Brian Twister

    November 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm Reply

    Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation, never heard of it till today
    With this kind of working environment, the only innovation that will come out of this place are talented designer finding ways or excuses to leave this working environment!

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