The Method of We

by Drew Barontini

One of my favorite aspects of the team at Envy Labs is the way in which problems are approached. They are not viewed as something only pertinent to the team member that is tasked to work on that particular problem. Rather, problems are approached in unison, using what I like to term, “The Method of We.”

This particular “method” isn’t a formal process, or even one that anyone else is necessarily aware of, but it is a method to the extent in which it facilitates finding solutions. In its simplest form, the method is a gesture of ownership; the team taking ownership of a problem, regardless of who is actively seeking the solution.

Critiquing & Conversation

On the design team, this transcends into conversations and critiques of the products we work on. When someone posts a design which, in its essence is a problem of communication, the group takes ownership regardless of whether they worked on the project. The problem is presented by one person, but the group takes ownership of the problem, discusses, and ultimately presents the solution as a group (Envy Labs, the design team, etc.). This does wonders when critiquing another’s design, because it helps diffuse the personal attachment to the design. For example, notice the differences in the following language:

“The header is a little crammed. You should try giving it some more padding.”

“The header is a little crammed. What if we tried increasing the padding by about 20 pixels?”

I’ve elaborated the second comment to illustrate the point, but by using “we” as a diffuser, the critiquee not only feels more assured knowing the team is behind him, but the critiquer takes on more ownership using that terminology, thus offering a more specific, defined solution to the problem. Although it seems hyperbolic, I’ve witnessed this first-hand within the design team at Envy Labs. Unknowingly, each member of the design team will use the “we” pronoun when critiquing. It’s a very small, but powerful change in the way we approach problems.