Collaboration – Combining strengths on Design Challenges

Collaboration describes the long-term and high-structure quadrant of our Maker Learning Matrix. Full-on design thinking is at work here as we contribute our strengths toward bigger opportunities. The outward focus of these challenges builds a sense of empathy for the users of our solutions and for our collaborators contributing their own strengths and motivations.

Collaboration is an opportunity to build our “skills of community”. The idea of community is layered and complex. Having a solid sense of ourselves – what we can contribute, when we need help – gives us a firm base to work with. Collaboration on design projects is a great place to hone these skills. Collaboration is hard. But it is a skill that can be built through practice.

Design thinking is at the heart of this collaborative effort. It’s a process of problem-solving – and, in my opinion, navigating life! Many of us see a challenge and want to dive into building the first solution we think of. Design thinking forces us hold on that first idea, step back, define the problem with empathy, brainstorm with varying perspectives, prototype a hypothesis, test with brutal honesty and, of course, iterate throughout the process. Without a design framework to organize our efforts we often go to one of two extremes: never launching a solution because we’re paralyzed by perfectionism, or launching too quickly missing the mark with a not-so-thoughtful solution.
What lies at the heart of design thinking, collaboration and community is empathy. The ability to see and feel another’s point of view. We can not expect to navigate any challenge without the ability to understand who we are solving a problem for. It is key to defining accurately and solving effectively. Empathy is also critical for your team of collaborators as you share ideas, narrow in on solutions and make team decisions. Through empathy we build the trust to be vulnerable, the confidence to lead and the wisdom to support.

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