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Fostering Interdiscipline Collaboration

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A major division in a Fortune 100 tech firm had just added UX design into their software development team structure, taking over tasks and decisions previously owned by the BA’s (business analysts). Their first engagement together was a large-scale, mission-critical product, so they all had to hit the ground running. Senior management passed down the new process, then set up a one-day off-site to bring the BA and UX teams together to become familiar with the concepts. We facilitated a session of shared storytelling and interactive collaboration games, using the product and its target users as our theme.

The games we played were specifically designed to practice and reflect on the dynamics between participants and departments. Together, we explored and discussed how to align the efforts of multidisciplinary teams toward a common vision and action plan. Through iterative exercises and debriefs, the team shared a tangible experience of the importance of communication, respect, positive interactions, and co-creating the product narrative together, in order to ensure conceptual integrity of the product.

Two key challenges were identified: (1) it would be difficult to find time to properly dialogue and plan at a detailed level all the nuances of requirements and design, and (2) the development team was also running full steam ahead, following a new agile process, without a clear action plan for alignment and collaboration. We spent time discussing practical strategies and attitudes to overcome these obstacles.

Many participants expressed relief, and even optimism, simply because they were invited by management to discuss questions and concerns openly together. Everyone committed to following through by keeping the dialogue going. This initiative laid solid groundwork (and ground rules) for collaboration moving forward.