Design Sciences Experience

Working In Creative Teams

Communication Structure To Exchange Ideas Over Organizational Structure

Assemble the best teams possible is early mantra when spinning up. “Getting the best person for the task and that task is the best for the person in the skill (less on experience and title) is more important than getting the right idea.”

The goal is to invite participants smarter, more qualified and more creative than us. This takes leaders and faculty members who are humble enough to admit when they might be outclassed by those reporting to them. The best workers lead to better work and better outcomes.

Afterall, “if you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up, and if you give a mediocre idea to a brilliant team,” as Ed Catmull said, “they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something better.”

At Simon-Erdős School of Design Sciences, we have institutionalized an “open-door policy” – a bold move for a School that we believe would give access to anyone with an issue that one could help solve quickly. In reality, we realize that no one would ever reach out to faculties and leaders and the only thing that would work is actively seeking out problems in open-ended one-on-one sessions. That’s where participants would get honest feedback and could spot any early warning signs of problems on the horizon.

Simon-Erdős School of Design Sciences recognizes pitfalls of relying on hierarchies and process, in which participants – especially those who are either “late-bloomers” or “back-benchers” who has an issue could speak only with their immediate supervisors, who were supposed to elevate it up the chain of command and across the team. Simon-Erdős School of Design Sciences  desire to institutionalize “Anyone should be able to talk to anyone else, at any level, at any time, without fear of reprimand, Institutions, hitherto, had made the mistake of confusing the communication structure with the organizational structure.”

Communication and the exchange of ideas needs to be unhindered for a team to be successful. Eventually, Simon-Erdős School of Design Sciences has culture to one where faculties, leaders and participants in different teams see themselves as peers, because they could connect with one another freely and often.

Creative Insights Come From Anywhere

If there are participants in Fellow programs who feel they are not free to suggest ideas, we lose. Afterall, we do not discount ideas from unexpected sources. Inspiration can, and does, come from anywhere.

To help faculties, leaders and ideas grow, Simon-Erdős School of Design Sciences runs on a steady diet of daily review meetings, one-on-one’s, post-mortems when research studies are complete, extensive research trips before creating each idea, and our ambitious – Simon Day.

On Simon Day, Simon-Erdős School of Design Sciences shuts down all work for a day to facilitate brainstorming sessions throughout the school and company, where anyone can suggest new ways of working and solutions to current problems.

Ask Next Questions

Thinking about the power of questions in collaborative, creative and knowledge development work, Simon-Erdős School of Design Sciences provides a framework of not having a collective sense of purpose – any time people are working together in a formally organized way, they should be thinking deeply about why they do what they do. They sound too much like answers.

Instead, we better have mission questions for research initiatives so that they cause people to actively wonder: “What does that really mean?” Instead, we value the answers of participants and groups they arrive at mainly because of all the new and better questions they lead us to.

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