Crediting a team’s efforts motivates the whole group

A noticeable thing about entries to the 2002 Design Week Awards was the great number of entrants naming individual design team members, not just the consultancy. There was also a concern voiced by some winners that the official programme for last Monday’s awards ceremony allowed only one person to go up to collect the prize in the event of an award being given when the project came about through teamwork. Needless to say, a plucky few broke the ‘rules’, bringing not only the team, but the client on to the stage.

We picked up on that mood in the Book of the Night, published last week, naming, where possible, the people behind the shortlisted work. We hope that consultancies submitting work for publication in Design Week will adopt a similar spirit of generosity.

You can glean two things from this new-found interest in naming individuals. First, there is pride in the team. Where once the only person ‘allowed’ to collect an award would be the consultancy head, invariably a designer whose name was over the door, teamwork is now the accepted norm. Interestingly too, the names proffered weren’t just designers, but included project managers and account handlers, among others.

Second, it indicates a new sophistication and confidence in the business. There’s less fear of good people succumbing to headhunters’ approaches or that the principal’s power is eroded by the admission that work isn’t their own. It’s an acknowledgement that there’s greater strength in putting together a successful team.

Would that this generosity was more universal – and extended more to complementary consultancies whose input is crucial to a project.

Several of our winners, not least Best of Show winner Casson Mann, named not just their own team, but other groups and individuals involved in the project. It all adds to the celebration of the award. But when it comes to day-to-day news, we find consultancies more reticent about sharing the honours.

Recently, we heard from a branding group that conveniently forgot to mention the structural packaging team involved in a high-profile job, causing bad feelings after publication. Then an exhibition design group insisted the rival consultancy that actually designed a show was making false claims because the first group had completed the masterplan in an earlier contract – and lost the pitch for a follow through. I won’t name names this time, but all concerned would have felt more highly of them had they been open from the start.

Collaboration in design is an admirable development in recent years. Let’s not sacrifice it for the sake of a few petty rivalries and be generous with our credits.

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