Becoming a team

By Irena Flego // Fifth Space Fellow and Spread the Love Team Member


Building a team from scratch was a fascinating experience at the Fifth Space, and one that still puzzles me.

We had one day to gather a group of people that would need to stick together “no matter what” over the next six months. Scary acceleration, considering that usually it takes months, if not years, to form an effective team organically. The exercises were set up so each team gets people with a variety of skills, personalities and working styles. The idea was, I guess, to try & negotiate the right amount of everything in the mix – a doer, a goer, an analyst, an organizer, a maker.

My team however is unique in the sense that all members gravitated to the topic or problem they wanted to address, and they/we stuck with it from the beginning until the end of the team forming process. The interest factor trumped all others (we did not know each other from before; we are from two different agencies; we had an abundance of generative and maker badges whilst lacking some key skills such as organizing). What we had in common were independent and unconventional ways of thinking, a passion for our project, and lots of ideas.

While having lots of ideas sounds great, sometimes it can be a distraction. One good idea generates another and then another and all of a sudden it’s two hours later, and we kind of lost  track of the practical side of our project. On the happy side, this way of operating keeps us constantly excited, enthusiastic and hopeful to produce perhaps some ground-breaking material.

Doing ethnographic research on each other helped with getting to know each other better, again in a very accelerated way. While the goal was to practice ethnographic data collecting, our sessions looked more like speed psychotherapy sessions. Somehow, we told each other very personal stuff and were OK with it. Of course, we tried to analyze and interpret (and later found out that we didn’t need to – that’s for the next stage, idea generation).

As we go deeper into our user research, we are also learning more about each others’ strengths and weaknesses, how flexible we are to accommodate and adapt, and how to best apply each other’s skills, experiences, resources and ideas.

I feel lucky to be a part of this amazing and creative team.

Written by Irena Flego, one of 29 Fifth Space Fellows and a member of the Spread the Love Team. The Spread the Love Team is looking at intimacy & romantic relationships amongst folks with a developmental disability. 

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