Mixing to Symbolise

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[BY3]

Being in a diverse team is not what you would say foreign for me, I have worked with designers and creative’s much of my professional life but a team as diverse as this takes it to a whole new level.  Architects, engineers, IT developers all think and communicate on a completely different level.  Words have different meanings, there are completely new words and the use of abstract metaphors has taught me a way of thinking I didn’t even know existed.  Some of the time I am totally unaware of what people are talking about and often need words and or phases to be translated into a language that I understand, and often I need what I am saying translated for others.

One great challenge has been generating ideas and concepts that everyone understands and agrees upon. Quite often an idea is expressed and described and everyone thinks that it’s a great idea, until the other person puts the idea into their own words and expresses it in their own way, that they soon realise that they have two completely different ideas in their heads.

We have used a huge range of concepts to extract ideas to try to represent them. Everything from role plays, diagrams, sketch’s, sounds, food, metaphors, you name it.  They all have their own place and can be interpreted in their own way. What we have found is that if one way fails to explain what you are trying to represent then try a different route and keep experimenting with alternatives until you are both on the same page.

One thing we have used time and time again is the building of ideas. Most of the ideas we have had are not actually full ideas when we start, but part of an idea. We see this as a good thing and try to encourage each other to express even part of an idea and then build on that idea in an unbiased direction. We mash these parts of ideas together and see what comes of it. Sometimes we come up with nothing and sometimes we come up with something great. It is this mashing of ideas and concepts that have given us our biggest breakthroughs.

Trying to demonstrate the building of networks into something physical has been a real challenge. We have tried using ropes and boxes, we have tried using photos and words but it has been in the drawing that we have had the most success. Whenever someone is trying to explain how the new prototype idea is going to work it always comes to light for everybody when the person draws it or uses some type of prop. Architects have used spaces, engineers have used computers, designers have used mock ups and business people have used wallets.  Whether the model is a pair of salt and pepper shakers or nuts from a tree in some ones backyard, it seems to always make sense when the person trying to explain uses an object that is familiar to everyone that the penny finally drops.

How people describe abstract ideas varies from person to person, profession to profession and from culture to culture. Being in such a diverse team allows members to expand their knowledge and develop skills of representation that works across a variety of levels.

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