Chapter 2. Give Everyone a Role

In the last chapter, we looked at how encouraging diversity in a team helps generate and test ideas more easily and quickly, but can bring up conflict in some cases. Establishing clear roles for people helps channel their energies and can reduce unproductive tension around different responsibilities. In this chapter you’ll learn how to approach assembling different collaborators, and how to use explicit roles to channel different skills and impulses.

Christina Wodtke, founder of Balanced Team, points out that “we know how to channel people from a skill set perspective—designers design and developers write code. But, if nonfunctional roles aren’t delineated, there’s guaranteed to be conflict.” She says clear roles deal with things like, “Who makes decisions? Who brings what perspectives? Who’s able to facilitate openly? Who will plan and track what the collaborators do?” Wodtke also acknowledges that roles are never a set piece that can work anywhere. “Different collaborations will have different shapes,” she says, calling up classic comic book collaborations as an example. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, pioneers of comic book creation, approached writing and drawing together as two equals with different skills building one thing. Sci-fi and fantasy author Neil Gaiman, on the other hand, will turn over a full manuscript for a graphic novel without really having thought much about what the visuals should or would be. Both approaches clearly result in quality ...

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