How to Assemble Your Team and Utilize Their Full Potential

In the last post on this topic, we explained some of the different shapes of people you might find among your colleagues when it’s time for a design thinking session. This time around, we would like to let you in on how your company can leverage this knowledge to build the best design thinking team possible.

The question of which kind of people are ideal for design thinking is a highly controversial one. Unfortunately, there is not one easy one size fits all answer simply because design thinking can be used for such a wide variety of problem-solving and activities that inspire creativity.

T-shaped people might be perfect for product design teams. But for others purposes, A-shaped people might be the perfect team players and some think the best team is a combination of I-shaped and hyphen-shaped people.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Don’t Lose Yourself in the Letters


However, it might be more efficient and prudent not to obsess too much about what shape each person is and which shapes you should combine to form your team. This is especially true at small enterprises which may not ever be able to choose from an entire alphabet full of letter types in the first place.

Unless you work in a larger company and have a vast pool of colleagues to choose from (who would also be able to meet in the same place at the same time), it might be best to merely recognize which types your potential team members are beforehand and leverage this knowledge to make the most out of your session.

Knowing the different types well will help you to more easily recognize them and facilitate a successful design thinking session.

A Variety of Letters is Needed to Generate Words (and Innovative Ideas!)


As a rule of thumb when assembling a team, you should look for people who think differently from each other. Most importantly, they must think in a different ways from the others on the team. Different sets of minds will come up with the most divergent ideas, and that’s your goal after all.

Furthermore, seek out members who exude enthusiasm and empathy. Their tendencies could be a very positive influence on the whole team, enhancing your outcome. You also need people who want to work with you on the specific topic at hand and who like the design thinking approach. Nobody can be forced to be creative. Enthusiasm tops realism, especially during the early phases of design thinking, in particular when doing ideation.

Lastly, assemble doers instead of talkers. Encourage talkers to just do it instead of talking. And then allow them to talk about it later if time allows. The reactions from the doers just might be valuable.

Help Connect the Letters to Form Words and Sentences


Our advice is to adapt your methods to best suit your team, effectively facilitate and encourage communication between key letter types and their ideas, and make room for all of types of people at the design thinking table. After all, each person can contribute something valuable regardless of what letter shape she or he is.

Facilitators should keep an eye on introverted people because they are the ones who are most likely not to be heard during brainstorming sessions. Often they tend to get drowned out during open discussions. You should have a special interest in their opinions and ideas because they are likely to be the ones who are the most empathetic members of your team.

Recognize them, give them room to work on their own and ask them specifically to share their ideas if you want to utilize the full potential of your team. For more on this topic, check this TED Talk out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4

So, now that you know how to utilize the different kinds of people on your team, keep an eye on your team members to recognize the shapes and personality traits of them. Try to adapt your way of working with them to facilitate effective design thinking sessions and you will be surprised by the results they yield.

Please let us know about your experience with differently shaped people and if or how this knowledge influenced or changed your team working experience directly in the comment section below or via LinkedIn or Twitter.

This post was originally posted on openPDA, the ressource platform for Design Thinkers.

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