We are thought leaders and visionaries bound by a common mission: if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Positioned at the intersection of innovation and strategy, we deliver perspectives and insight on topics impacting data, design, and business scale.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work


Leah Hacker
Head of Research - Accpl

Companies today are faced with creating a streamlined process across their consumer journey, within their service, and product offering. Operationally, this requires creative or design teams to work closely with the data-minded or engineering teams. For those who have tried to integrate these teams, you’ve learned that it looks like a cross between herding cats and trying to get people who speak completely different languages to have a precise and meaningful conversation. It’s hard.

{We hashed this out on Ep. 3 of the IWDR podcast with Jason Williford, if you haven’t listened, definitely do so. He talks about tools and priorities teams can implement to help with this integration and team dynamic.}

So how can we do better at integrating two teams that are entirely very, very…different?

Part of this solution comes before you ever begin to fill out a team. Before you can hire for a role objectively, you need to be able to answer the question: What does the company need from this role? We tend to think of the answer to this question as a matter of skills (e.g., experience in coding in Python, skilled in design best practices, x years in the industry, advanced degrees). And those things are important, but job roles are a combination of skills and capability.

Rather, this question is really focused on laying the groundwork for identifying the cultural and operational demands this person will face on the regular. You need to be able to identify if this role is more of an order taker or giver? How much of a change agent will this person need to be to do their job effectively? Is this the management of people or process and tools? Should this person rely heavily on environmental cues and instinct or is this a role that is data-driven and based on hard evidence?

Identifying these broader cultural and operational demands for roles, over and beyond skills, can help hiring managers understand what type individual will excel at this role.

Once you’ve identified what the company needs from the role, it becomes a little easier to know when you’ve found the right person for the job. However, it’s important to remember that you are hiring for the role — not the person. As people who are hiring people, we tend to have a set of preferences in what we look for when hiring. Unconsciously or consciously, we tend to pick someone who we enjoy being around, someone who thinks like we do. But, that may not be what the company needs from the role. The company may need someone who thinks and solves problems the exact opposite way we do.

True, when we actively hire individuals who are fit for the role, not necessarily our next kindred spirits, conflict is bound to surface. This is where we see many difficulties between logical and creative teams surface. These teams are equipped with different goals, different communication styles, and different motivations. No wonder when goals and process come into play, we see these two teams clash.

At first glance, our knee-jerk response is to shut down team conflict. It breeds resentment and people sometimes have a hard time keeping it in check. But, conflict — in and of itself — is a healthy part of relationships. And necessary part of growth. As a result, reframing conflict as a clash of motivations, ideals, or process allows teams to remove personal attachments from the disagreement. This helps in identifying the real issues and move forward in isolating and implementing a solution.

One of the most frequent reasons for clashing is a difference in communication styles and needs. The differing teams simply speak two different languages and emphasize two different set of priorities. As a hiring manager, understanding from the start what type of communication and value propositions individuals and teams need to be successful in their roles allow you to set up processes and platforms that allow for the most development and healthiest team dynamics.

Often times, we fall prey into thinking that our end product is unaffected by the disjoints in our team. In reality, disjoints within an organization always finds its way into an end-user experience. Team integration is incredibly important in the development of a healthy product, a thriving organization, and a scalable company model.

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It’s Worth Doing Right podcast is a collection of conversations exploring the intersection of data in the creative process. You can listen to more of It’s Worth Doing Right Podcast, here.

Mad props from IWDR:  

A huge thank you to Jason Williford for joining us on this conversation on data in design thinking and our very first podcast episode! CEOs and owners pay Jason’s team to mitigate ‘stupid human decisions’ from the growing business process. Their discipline focuses on driving profit and loss by the right Culture Fit. Understanding the goals of ownership ranging from wanting to fire themselves as CEO, disruptive organic growth, and sustainability of current growth trends via management in training processes is Jason’s world. Being an Owner, Manager, and Licensee, Jason has had the privilege of making several great people decisions, a few good people decisions and tons of poor people decisions. His poor decisions included horrible hires (despite a great interview—or so I thought), really stupid promotions (ever take your best employee and promote only to destroy both positions in one move?) and just pure uneducated management. These experiences ingrain the need for an in-house process that eliminates the subjectivity of managing employees. Understanding the needs of your specific culture and enabling your employees to drive it straight to the bottom line takes a mathematical approach to driving objective decisions. The Culture Index Program is a whole company program that allows you and your managers to make all people decisions with objectivity.