How do you get techies, project managers and artists to play nice? You teach them that’s the way it’s done, from the beginning.
Welcome to the ETC, the brain child of Don Marinelli and Randy Pausch. As Randy said in his now famous ‘Last Lecture‘,
” the ETC is to ‘masters degrees’ as Cirque Du Soleil is to circus” — it’s a whole different world. Truly. And not just because on the fifth floor the elevator doors open to the interior of a spaceship.
Drew Davidson, Director for the Pittsburgh campus, filled me in on their ‘break the mold’ approach to preparing students for the world of design:
Collaborative Interdisciplinary Teams
The ETC’s classes, faculty and projects all evangelize teams that:
- collaborate to support and communicate the project’s ‘narrative’
- build on each other’s ideas
- take risks, explore and play together
- support each other: listen, observe and give honest feedback
Their students drink the kool-aid.
The entire team owns every project and they’re all responsible for its success. The team is evaluated collectively on both design and production deliverables, making everyone responsible for content quality and staying on schedule.
Lesson: when everyone is responsible for everything, it becomes everyone’s job to solve problems.
Lots of Feedback
Students learn how to better support each other and communicate through regular feedback. Advisers and students meet throughout the semester to discuss their work and team member reviews.
Drew compared it to something Randy’s mentor once told him:
“Randy, it’s such a shame that people perceive you as so arrogant, because it’s going to limit what you’re able to accomplish in life.”
I’d love to see more design industries adopt these practices, in our firms and in graduate education. Why aren’t architecture and engineering programs more integrated? Advertising and communications programs? I mean, you’ll be collaborating for the rest of your career…