Team-shared Responsibility

By João FerreiraOn May 16, 2016

Products are designed and built by teams.

A great product is the outcome of an excellent partnership between great designers and great developers. If you're lucky enough to work with great designers and developers but you're not making great products, you're probably lacking the "excellent partnership" part.

We spot good work by the details and the user's experience of a product is everyone's responsibility, not only the designers. It starts with the way we communicate the product to the world, creating the right context and expectations, all the way through the overall look and feel, and the performance of the product.

Every team member matters, everyone makes a difference.

Team-made decisions

All of these decisions, tasks and challenges should be tackled as a team, and it is the team's responsibility to make sure their outcome is respected throughout the entire development process and reflected in the final product.

At Subvisual, we run [Design Sprints] ( to get everyone on board, figuring out the product from scratch, making sure all major decisions are discussed as a team.

By getting the whole team involved in the design process from the beginning, we give them the tools to take a stand and shape the future of the product but as a smart man once said:

"With great power, comes great responsibility"

Uncle Ben

If everyone's involved, no one gets to point fingers. No one can close their eyes when something isn't according to plan and walk away from it because "that's not their turf". Because if something, anything, is wrong with the product, it's everyone's fault.

Be a team player

If something feels off, it most probably is, so you're left with 3 options:

a) you know what's wrong and you can handle it yourself, so you handle it.

b) You can't handle it yourself so you ask for help and then handle it together.

c) You can't put your finger on what's wrong and you really need to move on to another task, so you tag a teammate and ask them if they can handle it.

These are the only acceptable options when you're working on a product development team.

At Subvisual we use Trello, so we try and make sure that whenever someone, anyone, sees something that doesn't feel right in the product, they immediately create a 'bug' card for that, so we don't miss it. It sounds easier than it is and sometimes things go unnoticed for some time.

If you turn your back and do nothing, with the "someone else will notice it and deal with it" attitude, you're sabotaging your team, adding up weight on your teammates' back but also neglecting your product's chances of success, by raising the odds of the problem to linger on for weeks, months or even forever. And time is not the cure for everything, least of all when we're talking about product development.

Ask for help

The best part of working in a team is that help is always on the way, as long as you ask for it. Admitting you don't know is the smart move and a sign of intelligence. You learn and you get things done well: win-win situation. Going for the hero approach and trying to overcome all challenges on your own will end poorly for everyone involved.

You're not Batman. Be a good team player and you might be lucky enough to be one of the Avengers.

Cut the bullshit

Having an opinion is fine, as long as it's pondered and you state it out crystal clear for all your team to hear. You might be right, you might be wrong, and there's absolutely nothing tragic with being wrong, but if you don't actually say it, you fail to provide your team with your valuable insight.

If it comes out that you were right and everyone else was wrong, please don't see that as the perfect opportunity to use the "I told you so" card. Actually, there's never a good opportunity to use it. Ever. It causes unnecessary friction between people who are working together towards the same goals, and will definitely backfire sooner or later.

Your team's got your back

No matter how good you are, when push comes to shove you'll want your team to have your back. Be a team player, respectful and altruistic, and when the time comes, your team will rush to help you.

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