Collaboration toolkit that facilitates alignment and understanding among members of different departments involved in the design process.
As part of Savannah College of Art and Design’s 'Collaboration at a Distance' course, a team of six students explored the impact of technology, geography, and company culture on collaborative endeavors while conducting a case study of leading PC and smartphone vendor, Lenovo.
Setting the ground
During our kick-off meeting the team was able to learn about different issues the design team faced. During this briefing, the team developed an activity to visualize how the process of communication occurs within Lenovo and the quality with which they transpire. Their subjective insights gave us a head start in our pursuit of finding roadblocks to the success of fruitful communication.
Understanding Through First-Hand Experiences
The team visited Lenovo headquarters in Morrisville, NC. to conduct primary research through interviewing individuals across various departments and hierarchies within the organization that are involved in the design and development of products.
These interviews gave the team first-hand account of how Lenovo’s teams function as an interconnected whole, and the processes of and hurdles of communication. Though these stories we got to empathize the positive and negative experiences the individual’s experience on a day-to-day basis while working within Lenovo.
To understand interdepartmental relationships with respect to communication and chain of command the team utilized the 'From-To' matrix to comprehend how these complex interactions take place.
The information the matrix yielded was later utilized in the process of affinitization to unearth insights into the organization’s hierarchical workings.
Identifying areas of opportunity
From the insights the team unearthed through the process of affinitization, areas of opportunity were found within the organization’s process of collaboration to greatly improve the process of working collaboratively so as to ensure continuing innovation and efficiency.
Eight areas of opportunity were presented to part of Lenovo's team to measure the issues through their perspective. Lenovo's team rated the areas opportunity from "Nice to have" to "Should have" and "Must have", through an online co-creation session.
After the co-creation session the opportunity to innovate the relationship between departments and have clear goals was rated a must have for Lenovo's team, therefore the team decided to focus on this area developing the following opportunity statement:
"There is an opportunity to improve inter and intra departmental collaboration and communication so as to eliminate departmental differences in order to increase empathy and collaboration amongst different teams."
Finding the right solution
The team generated individual and team brainstorming sessions to look at connections between needs and potential solutions within the opportunity space. With more than 50 concepts the team adapted and merged multiple ideas to formulate an ecosystem of solutions for Lenovo. These diverse ideas led to the stage of concept refinement.
The team refined 12 concepts, which were later merged and detailed. The selected concepts were evaluated with the design criteria from the research and midterm feedback.
The Collaboration Toolkit
A major pain point found during the research phase was the existing misalignment and differences between departments.
We recommend a collaboration method to facilitate departmental goal alignment from the beginning of each project. During the kick-off meeting of a project, the team members involved will engage in a conversation filling out the provided canvas, establishing goals, and identifying roles.
The setup of the canvas is divided into three parts.
1) Members' Profile Sheet
Includes date, project brief, and profiles of team members - name, department, location, contact information, and responsibilities. A resource with this information helps recognize roles for future reference.
2) Goal Alignment Sheet
Structured by department goals and one unified team goal, the template communicates the relationship between individuals and the team as a whole.
3) Requirements Matrix
Lists all members involved in the project, its needs (horizontal axis) and responsibilities (vertical axis) to provide a clear understanding of the roles and activities of each member.