Design Collaboration Case Study

Case Study of the xbox 360 design collaboration effort

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How can collaboration and integration be achieved?
Putting brand architecture and industrial design in the same organization is key to success. “This may be challenging for some to swallow,” Coyner explains. “With Xbox, we had lots of conversations, summits, and good dialog back and forth. Trust and mutual respect are key to having it work. Do what you can do to eliminate territorialism.”

The Xbox team used several approaches to try to overcome traditional corporate structure and process.

  • Team rituals such as engaging cross-functional groups in creative exercises helped to change the rhythm of the process. “Your brain needs interval training just like your body to hit new levels,” Jager notes.
  • Whenever possible, the team presented together to senior management. Jager explains: “Be unified and aware even as the process develops at different rates. Learn and support each other. Elevate the meaning of your work from a project to a cause. When it’s a cause, people tend to psychologically dig deeper together–as opposed to a project, where you have others who can be less driven.”
  • Involve senior management in the process; bring them into the work environment. Present on your own turf, not in the boardroom. According to Hall, “The executive team was exposed first-hand to our collaborative riffing across both design and brand. The lines between client and agency, product and brand, had blurred and coalesced around a shared vision and visual language. It fundamentally changed the senior-management approval dynamic–instead of poking for holes, the execs asked how they could remove barriers for us and stay out of our way.”
  • Strive to break down barriers between functional groups and to achieve common understanding. For example, make sure the product-development organization truly understands corporate strategy objectives. The branding group needs to understand product technology so they don’t make promises that aren’t supported by the product. Kaneko recommends, “Focus on a shared definition of the customer or user so that you don’t have the individual players designing only for what makes sense in their lives.” Coyner suggests scheduling summits involving both product and branding as early as possible.
  • Space matters. As he did for Xbox, Coyner advocates securing spaces that are accessible to the team and whose environment fosters collaboration, instead of using the typical sterile corporate meeting room. He adds that having the team do things together helps to build trust and an ongoing relationship. Continuing dialog even after the product is shipped is critical.
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1 Response to “Design Collaboration Case Study”


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