Friday, August 3, 2012

we can design, hopefully. but can we manage?

"What gets you promoted, doesn't make you a great leader or manager of people. When you start out in your career, how do you get promoted? You get stuff done. Whether you’re an accountant, a lawyer, or a tech exec, ( +/or designer), you do a lot of work and you do it well. What gets you promoted when you’re a manager of people? Getting a lot of people underneath you get stuff done."

This quote comes from an article I recently read from Forbes about why companies are terrible at selecting, retaining and motivating their talent. It's particularly relevant for the design community, since, as many of us know or find out after some time practicing, that designers are not the best managers. Seeing as we want to do great work, we really do need skills in project management and should be more conscious of how we utilize and treat members of a design team - including consultants and colleagues.

We go to school for design and learn the fundamentals of design - critical and creative thinking, process, documentation, etc. - as an individual. But, we don't often embrace team work until the last few semesters and usually don't like working in teams. We complain that part of the team doesn't work well, doesn't hold up their end of the work load.

However, the professional setting is this... all the time. As much as the biggest ego designer wants to admit he or she does it all, it's not true. We need a team of people to go from concept to construction. If we don't learn to manage that team, keep them focused and inspired then the final product will suffer. If not the final product, then it will wear on future projects.

So, if we want to think sustainably about the culture of our office, of our team, for this project and then many in the future it is vital to think about team management. Keep the best contractors on board to build the best ideas. The best ideas are generated by the best designers and staff of all levels. Keep them motivated and inspired.

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