IDC has been at the forefront of design innovation for almost 50 years now – what makes their team so successful? Simon Collings, Director at IDC shares a few ideas about how to get the most out of your team.
Create a workspace where people want to be
One thing that’s often overlooked in the workplace is the comfort of staff. People are at their most creative when they are feeling fresh, relaxed and comfortable. Simple things can lead to a great improvement in the workplace. How do you feel about your desk, seating, the temperature, lighting, colours, and sounds of the office?Could you improve any of these to create a better working environment?
At IDC, we’ve recently redesigned our design studio to include motorised desks for our designers, meaning that each desk can be height adjusted to suit the individual. If staff feel they need to stretch their legs, they can even raise the height to become a standing desk – you might be surprised how many people like to do this during the day. This is also a great feature for informal chats and quick meetings around a screen.
Involving the whole team in decisions about the workplace is also important in creating the right environment. As a product development consultancy, we have some of the most creative minds around, so when we chose our office colour scheme it was in consultation with the whole office!
Promoting an open, friendly workspace is a key factor in encouraging creativity. We want all our staff to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts about product developments, whether a new graduate or seasoned engineer. We also create a relaxed environment with music – anyone can add tracks to the playlist and this can be a great motivator.
Encourage a process for innovation
‘Blue sky thinking’ is a phrase that is often linked to creativity and innovation. This is true, but innovation without boundaries can lead to an overload of choice and quickly turn chaotic if not properly managed.
When we design products, we are looking for an inspiring design which delivers commercial success, and this is very much linked to the user. The best products are designed with complete user understanding and go beyond expectations to become market leaders. There also needs to be a full appreciation of the best materials and manufacturing processes to achieve a solution that is commercially successful. It is easy to lose sight of these end targets if there is no overall direction.
IDC has developed its own four stage innovation process - this is not a rigid structure that stifles creativity, but a gentle process that directs creativity and reminds teams about what they need to achieve at different stages of the design. Take a look at IDC’s design process online at: www.idc.uk.com/our-process/
Create a culture of free thinking
From new starters right through to directors, promote an environment which encourages contributions from every member of the team. Companies can empower junior and inexperienced staff by encouraging a problem-solving attitude within the workplace. We believe in giving new starters project responsibility from the start, so they make a valuable contribution to the team. This can be extremely effective at raising confidence levels so that all staff are able to develop solutions and explore innovative ideas.
Supporting this ethos, at IDC we also have a weekly company meeting where staff regularly share ideas and knowledge, as well as specific brainstorming sessions and an informal office which invites creativity.
There are many benefits of bringing different staff together - for us this includes creative designers, highly technical mechanical and electronic engineers, and prototyping experts. These different mindsets help inspire diversity of ideas.
As well as this, use the breath of work experience and knowledge that employees bring from other companies, industries and countries. We often find when designing products that something which worked well in one industry can be transferred across to another industry, for an entirely different product use. For example, an interesting application of certain materials, manufacturing processes or sustainability in one industry may lead to their potential use in another.
Try to encourage staff to attend industry events and subscribe to relevant magazines, they should be open to inspiration from a wide variety of sources. It’s up to you to develop and then channel their knowledge in the right direction for your company.