Key Points for Working in a Successful Design Team

I am working on a design job at the moment that is quite different to what I am used to. I am used to being in charge and telling people what to do, making decisions and being responsible for those decisions. With this job, I am not in charge and I am having to make decisions as a team player. It is a reminder to me about the importance of quantifying your design decisions. You always need to be able to state your case as to why you decide on a product, finish or layout. The other team members need to be able to see where your design reasoning is coming from. Let’s face it, in this industry, we all have our own little picture in our head of what we think the finished product should look like and I bet those pictures are all totally different.

Being able to justify your decisions based on your concept and the look you are trying to achieve is vital. Communication plays a big part, and I must admit, for me I am finding it a bit confusing as I feel like it takes twice as long to make a decision and I get lost along the way. I have got my head around the concept of working as a team to get the design done. I guess I was just a little out of practice, and it has been good for me to step outside that comfort zone. I have had to explain my ideas more thoroughly and I have double checked what I have chosen and walk myself through the “why” scenario a few times before I share my thoughts, just to make sure I am happy with what I have come up with. So it is a good thing for me to do.

Working as a team is a way to get a better design outcome as you have a larger pool of ideas to work from. This only works however, if as I mentioned earlier, you can communicate those ideas and banter them around for the advantages and disadvantages of using them. Only then can you take the design up a step, if the communication isn’t working then it can be a disaster. Designers can be very ego driven and if their ego is hurt they will often sulk and won’t want to share their ideas in case they are stolen by some one else and they then in turn receive the credit. Please don’t take offense, I am generalizing here, but I have experienced it many times in my years of working in a design practice, and I know it is silly, but designers being creative people are also very sensitive and get upset easily. It can be like working with small children. I will stop there before I get inundated with emails from you all!

To Summarize – The Key Points for Working in a Successful Design Team are:

  1. Good sound communication
  2. Quality design reasoning
  3. Chose a leader who makes the final decision based on the team discussion
  4. Make sure you have a quality design brief, so you are all working to the same outcome
  5. Designate areas of responsibility to each member (this often reduces the ego problems if everyone has a responsibility)
  6. Set deadlines for decision making (or else you will debate for days)
  7. Obviously document all decisions
  8. The ability to listen to other team members with an open mind
  9. The ability to debate and express your design reasoning or philosophy
  10. And lastly – have a sense of humor, there will always be times when things go wrong, be able to laugh and then knuckle down and sort it out TOGETHER!
I know I have had to remember all these things to help me work in a design team environment, now I am enjoying the process and can’t wait to see the finished project.

6 thoughts on “Key Points for Working in a Successful Design Team”

  1. Lee, you really have a great sense of humour. I like your practical, down-to-earth way of communicating. Thank you and God bless you.


  2. Hi Lee thank you for your help and your enthusiastic inspiration,your lessons are helpful i just finished to paint my house using your ideas.

  3. I knew I can always count on you Lee. Thanks for being my source of inspiration in the field of Interior Design

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