Creating Shared Understanding in Product development Teams: How to 'build the beginning'

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It is the first meeting in a new promising project. Everyone around the table is enthusiastic about the project and excited to get going. There is a good atmos¬phere and the discussion travels back and forth. Everyone tries to present their point of view, which results in a broad discussion on very different aspects of the project.
It is discussed how the project should be understood, approached and devel¬oped. At the end of the meeting, some decisions are made in relation to the project. Many decisions are related to the different deliverables for the next meeting. At some point someone asks if they have reached an agreement and everyone nods their approval. Everyone leaves the meeting, confident that they know what to do.
A few weeks after, it is time for the second meeting. The team spirit is still high and there is a nice buzz in the meeting room, before the meeting starts. The introduction proceeds without problems, and it is time to recap what has been done in the project since the last meeting. The different participants start pre¬senting their promised deliverables.
In the beginning everything seems fine; however after a few presentations it is clear that there are very different understandings of the project as well as the assignments for the meeting. In fact it seems as if the participants have been working in different directions and with different aims.
More and more questions are asked and soon the presentations turn into a discussion about understanding of the deliverables, the project and its aim.
The positive and enthusiastic atmosphere is soon taken over by mild frustra¬tion and a slight disappointment.
What happened? A few weeks ago everyone nodded their approval, and seemed confident that they knew what to do. Now, it seems as if everyone is pursuing different goals and that nobody really understood each other.

The situation described above could perhaps be taken out of several different contexts and scenarios. Most people, who have been working in teams, probably recognize it, and especially people with experi-ences from interdisciplinary teams can confirm that this situation is part of many projects.
Lack of shared understanding or frames is just one of the difficulties facing interdisciplinary design teams working in the early phases of innovation. Besides managing their different values, perspectives and interests that cause them to see different things as important, they also have to figure out what their users and stakeholders find important.
In other words, the team has to frame their project around real user needs, problems or opportunities – and figure out what people really want, and at the same time come to an agreement about this framing within the team.
This is quite a challenge - both in terms of enabling the team members to express their personal framing of the project, but also in terms of making users and stakeholders communicate what kind of needs or problems they have, as well as the potential opportunities, they see. And finally it is a challenge in terms of creating a shared frame within the team.
In this book, this challenge is approached from a ‘designerly’ perspective and based on the initial assumption that the creation of physical artifacts can help both team-members, users and stakehold¬ers to overcome the boundary of not being able to define, express and communicate how they frame a given project or make meaning in re¬lation to their everyday life. And that this clarity will help the creation of a shared frame.
Based on empirical evidence, it is demonstrated that not all physical arti¬facts are able to do so, but that a small group of physical artifacts in a special setting and with a specific set of characteristics is.
The objective of this book is to demonstrate how building these particular physical arti¬facts enable and stimulate the communication between team mem¬bers, users and stakeholders in interdisciplinary teams working in the early phases of innovation. Furthermore the aim is to provide the reader with insight into the practical setup. The book provides tools and a facilitation guide for “Build the Beginning” workshops and thereby enables project managers to create shared frames in project teams. This result in a strong combination of clear examples on shared frames and how these can be achieved through planning and facilitation.
Udgivelses stedLondon
ForlagSpringer Publishing Company
ISBN (Trykt)978-1-4471-4179-2
ISBN (Elektronisk)978-1-4471-4180-8
StatusUdgivet - 2013

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