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A Design Thinking approach to problem-solving needs diverse team members

In December 2017 we wrote a blog on what makes good teamwork.  Click here for the full article https://www.level7live.com/7-steps-to-team-work/


Since that time the world has changed in ways that we would never have imagined.  Our business offering has changed too in that it is more focused and in line with what we believe people and businesses need to live and work harmoniously and productively.  We have embraced a design thinking approach to all that we do and principles that underpin our work and life are those that very much underpin our approach to coaching and problem-solving.


Our ‘7 steps to team work’ provided a snapshot of what effective team work looks like, now we propose an additional dimension to the what, in terms of who makes an effective team?


In our design thinking work we know that diverse, multi-functional teams produce richer outputs, however, this diversity can also produce potential conflict.  People with different views of the world will undoubtedly have different ideas and opinions and when discussed and viewed positively can help teams to make significant breakthroughs.


In reflecting on team diversity, an interesting perspective to consider is one that discourages us to look at people as a stereotype, especially a generational stereotype.  Social Psychologist, Professor Leah Georges suggests that generations do not actually exist, it’s a construct that enables us to compartmentalise people and allows people to act in ways that are widely promoted and assumed about that group and actually people of different ages are more similar than different in their needs and motivational drives.  https://www.ted.com/talks/leah_georges_how_generational_stereotypes_hold_us_back_at_work


So how does this view help us when assembling a team for a design thinking Sprint?  Perhaps we could start by being courageous to view people as unique individuals. Georges talks about a person’s “onlyness” and it would be helpful if we aim to understand them in an empathetic way and the contribution they have to offer, irrespective of their age or whatever stereotype we want to categorise them as.


What stories can you share that will highlight and help to breakdown stereotype barriers and encourage more diversity of ideas, behaviour and action in teamwork?


Let’s start a conversation.


Dr Gill Stevens

Level Seven


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Design Thinking: Empathy – Collecting the narratives

When we think of the word ‘design’ what comes to mind?  Possibly ‘fashion design’ or ‘engineering design’ or ‘building design’ the list could go on.  We now have ‘organisational design’.  One definition of the word design is:  purpose or planning that exists behind an action, fact or object.  This definition seems somewhat cold.  When we think of the word design, often the idea of creating something colourful or elaborate comes to mind.  The notion of creating something often evokes some sort of palpable feeling.  There is often an emotive connection that is often felt with the idea of working on a design.  It is no wonder that design has, until now, been the domain of creatives.

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Design Thinking: Integrating Design Thinking principles within the organisation

In the last decade, organisations were preoccupied with reacting to the pace of change that was coming at them from all angles.   These changes were wrapped up as problems that needed solutions that were often the subject of large-scale change management initiatives.  Looking back in time it is easy to see why employees experienced ‘change-fatigue’ and often resisted implementing what was being asked of them.  It was easier to keep on doing the same and avoid anything new that required more physical and mental effort.

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7 Steps to Team Work

Level Seven’s 7 Steps to Effective Team Work


  1. Create a common sense of purpose – Align this to the organisations purpose/goals

For teamwork to be effective, there need to be clear and aligned team goals. Clarity comes from team member involvement in setting goals to ensure buy in and mutual understanding. Alignment is multi directional in that the team’s goals must align with both the organisational goals and those of the individual team members. Through our work with organisations, we believe that leaders play a key role in supporting the achievement and sustainability of goal alignment through: clear communication of organisational vision, values and goals; sponsorship of team projects; ongoing support through mentoring and coaching of the team. Have a look at how we have woven these threads together to support strategic team project success:  http://www.level7live.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Developing-Leaders-in-Engineering.pdf

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