If You Could Go Back in Time…


This blog post is guest written by Dr. Claudia-Santi F. Fernandes, Associate Director play2PREVENT Lab, Yale Center for Health & Learning Games and John Joy, Advanced Producer at Schell Games. It was orig­i­nally published for the Academic Business Advisors blog on May 20, 2019. You can view it here.

What would we tell ourselves 6 months ago?


It is all about rela­tion­ships. Our first Kickoff Meeting between the play2PREVENT Lab at Yale and Schell Games was intim­i­dating for both sides. We had a chal­lenging task: develop a digital inter­ac­tive prototype that allowed students to assess their school climate and then empowered them to take action and improve it. Both teams consisted of sharp, organized, compas­sionate indi­vid­uals who were also ready to work together to create this prototype for a school climate tool and game. Our teams had worked together before, but this was the first time we (John + Claudia) were working closely as team leads. What we didn’t know then, but we later learned, was we felt the same uncer­tainty about the other team. As our teams worked more closely together and got to know one another (and became friends), we began to show our vulner­a­bil­i­ties and opened ourselves up to learning from and listening to one another. The second we stopped being Yale” and Schell,” and were instead a group of committed indi­vid­uals working with tough constraints, the path ahead became manage­able. We were creating the most appro­priate digital expe­ri­ence with our collec­tive expertise. As a result of sharing our own vulner­a­bil­i­ties and encour­aging openness, we developed a trusting bond that allowed the devel­op­ment of our work to truly shine.

After 6 months of devel­op­ment, we would tell past John and Claudia that these are the key ingre­di­ents to working on a multi-disci­pli­nary team:

    Point Number1
    • Listen to one another and be solution oriented: Hiccups occur. What distin­guishes successful working teams from unsuc­cessful ones is the ability to trou­bleshoot chal­lenges expressed by members of the team and think about how to find solutions together.
    Point Number2
    • Respect the expertise of each orga­ni­za­tion: We value different opinions but trust the expertise of each team. When this happens, you also create space to access your own expertise to then build something together.
    Point Number3
    • Allow yourself to be vulner­able with one another: Ask questions. It is okay to not always know the answer!
    Point Number4
    • Invite collab­o­ra­tion with a focused purpose: Always have an agenda to stay on task but encourage teams to take time on their own to explore ideas more if teams are not ready to make a decision in that moment. Be sure to set deadlines for decisions to keep the project moving!

    Pro-tip: Identify someone at work or in school by whom you are intim­i­dated or have a hard time working with. Pause for a moment and think of this person as a neighbor or friend. Do you think you would you act differ­ently around this person in this new context? What is one thing you could say to this person that you would say if this person were your friend or neighbor? Allow yourself to be authen­ti­cally vulner­able and see how it feels for you.