814.863.3975 innovation@psu.edu

Practices of High-Performance

Over the past forty years research into the performance of teams — including design-based teams engaged in acts of innovation and entrepreneurship — has focused primarily on the intra-personal and impersonal dimensions of their work. While valuable, those investigations into the psychology of team members or their access to resources have been unable to explain the factors that differentiate the best teams from the rest. Rarely have the interpersonal dimensions of team success been considered. This arc of inquiry aims to explore the critical moves used by members of successful teams in the enactment of their shared work.

The mission of the Practices of High-Performance Group (PPG) is to serve as an interdisciplinary forum for the exploration of the relational behaviors and cultural implications associated with design work. With a focus that includes innovation efforts at the forefront of science and technology as well as those in art, government, and other domains, the PPG aims to provide opportunities for people from many fields to develop a truly interdisciplinary understanding of the practices related to the work of successful innovation teams.

The PPG initiative includes periodic events, online galleries, and other formal and informal learning opportunities offered through Penn State University. The 2016-17 set of offerings includes:

Events: Design Deconstructed

Empathy is the starting point for much design work. This invitation-only event will examine the topic of empathy from three levels of analysis: personal, organizational, and societal. A briefing framed by current research on these themes will serve as the foundation for this small interdisciplinary gathering. Additional Salons on other topics will be offered throughout the 2016-17 academic year. Each half-day gathering will include brief presentations by key thought-leaders, deep discussion sessions, and opportunities to bridge research and practice. A document that brings together the main ideas developed in the gathering will be created and shared with participants.

Object Lessons: By Design

By Design (xD) is an experimental series of visual/verbal object studies focused on design and innovation. During the 2016-17 academic year, the xD series will juxtapose bioethical principles (autonomy, beneficence, and social justice) with empathy in the products and process of design.

Workshops: Innovation in Action

These short sessions highlight core skills used by high-performance teams in action. In one or two hours, participants will learn and develop new practices that will improve their ability to navigate the innovation process. Workshops are offered occasionally throughout the academic year.

Grand Rounds (Spring 2017)

This series of cross-discipline meetings focuses on the concept of iteration, a primary practice of design work. Scholars from across the university share insights about the role of iteration in their domain with special emphasis on the artifacts of iteration such as drafts and prototypes. Guiding questions include: what dispositions help team members iterate productively, how are cycles of iteration started and finished, what happens to provisional artifacts, and what aspects of iteration might transcend a particular discipline and enhance the innovation process in other domains.

Courses (Spring 2017)

The PPG-related course will focus on the practices used by high-performance design teams in action. Coursework will help students develop essential skills relevant to problem solving, innovation, and team work.

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