Participating in pitches is an essential way for agencies like dmcgroup to reach out for new business opportunities. Invitations to pitches are usually given on short notice, so the time for preparing concept, design and presentations is short. That’s why specific methods are needed to support teamwork and enable maximum creative and productive output within a short period of time.
Written by Philipp Brunner
dmcgroup in the war room: Ingredients for focused teamwork – for maximum output (and fun)
Dedicated space – a “New Business War Room”
The team must tune in on complex issues in a very short space of time, and so an environment that provides little distraction from outside and enough space for the project work is needed. The term “War Room” has been used to describe this kind of project environment for a while now:
A War Room (or command center) is any place that is used to provide centralised command for some purpose.
The Project Hearbeat: Daily Huddles
Daily Huddles are daily (held mostly in the morning), short and emphasised meetings regarding the status of the project. Originally a method in agile software development, stand-up meetings and huddles have long been used in the agency sector.
The term “huddle” is derived from sports: in American Football, a “huddle” refers to the common gathering of a team’s players right before the play to strategise and motivate each other. The players literally put their heads together.
- The team works out the day’s schedule collaboratively
- All available information, knowledge, solutions and problems will be shared in the team
- A common understanding of the project and its status within the team can be reached
- In this way, mistakes or problems can be recognised early and be avoided
Huddles work perfectly to stimulate a team for the upcoming day, because they are all about the personal encounter – the focus is on direct face to face communication and strengthening of team spirit. Daily Huddles have proved as an extremely effective method to start the day during our pitch project.
A space filled with ideas – wall space & Post-It notes
As mentioned above, one integral part of a good project room is the availability of free and useable wall space.
When pinning work documents and results such as project goals, notes on business models of the client, tag clouds with relevant ideas, sketches and final design screens to the walls, all team members will have them fresh in their minds. Nothing can get lost and any deviation from the main concept will come to the team’s attention.
- Gamestorming & Innovation Games: First, the main task was to properly understand the tasks at hand, to work out business and user goals and develop a common project vision. We did so, using playful innovation techniques
- Definition & concept: In the next step we focused on important insights and neglected less important ones. Then we defined story maps and user tasks for relevant user groups (User-centered Design!) and outlined our ideas. The definition of key elements helped to further focus the project vision.
- Design, Prototyping & Presentation: Wireframes served as the basis for the creative implementation of the vision by our designers. For the pitch a click dummy and a multimedia-enriched presentation were prepared.
Throughout all phases it helped to keep the entirety of our project vision in mind – on the walls. Towards the end of the pitch process, we had to use ladders to use the last available wall space.
Emotional monitor for the team – mini retro & retro
Two weeks of concentrated teamwork is a long time – and an emotional challenge for every team. That’s why open communication at any time of the project is a must.
The Method of Retrospective is widely known and used in agile software development. It is a team meeting that aims to reflect on what went well and should be ready for future project work. The team discusses what to do and how to improve our working methods.
The insights acquired from this process have been established in our team’s daily work and are still valid today.
Everyone participates in the end: this kind of structured and focused teamwork is highly productive and therefore a lot of fun. The team’s motivation during the project was always high (except for some temporary fluctuation), the team members identified with the project and gained some entirely new experiences in teamwork.
dmcgroup did not win the pitch unfortunately. Nevertheless, today, everyone involved in the pitch fully supports the resulting concept and design as well as the process that helped to develop it.
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Visual Teams: Graphic Tools for Commitment, Innovation, and High Performance
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Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great
by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen
Foreword by Ken Schwaber