Collaboration and Iteration are the Keys to Doing Projects with Silicon Valley Speed



Silicon Valley isn’t just the birthplace of startup culture and technology giants like Google, Apple, Cisco, and Tesla. It’s also where top agencies work alongside some of the world’s most complex brands, helping them create impactful solutions that penetrate the market with so-called “Silicon Valley speed”—a pace that’s increasing every day.

Companies in this industry want to be fast and first, which is precisely the reason “speed matters” is listed among Amazon’s 14 leadership principles. The breakneck pace is also famously summarized in Mark Zuckerberg’s “move fast and break things” philosophy for Facebook. Brands have made clear their need to bring ideas and products to market faster than anyone else, and they’re willing to pay top dollar to make it happen.

It’s Time to Change How We Think About Silicon Valley Speed

But even as the giants fight it out for first place, more and more companies are coming to realize that even speed alone is far from a perfect mindset. Consider, for example, Facebook’s philosophy of purposeful recklessness when applied to user privacy. It’s just one example of how relying only on speed can have disastrous consequences.

To launch projects quickly and sustainably in this market, cross-functional B2B website creation teams must focus on two things: collaboration and iteration.

collaboration and iteration

Speed Without Collaboration: the Fastest Pathway to Dysfunction

In a 2015 study by the Harvard Business Review, researchers analyzed 95 teams across 25 leading corporations chosen by an independent panel of academics and experts. The resulting report showed almost 75 percent of those teams were dysfunctional, for reasons that ranged from poor governance and accountability issues to undefined goals. In every case, the clear culprit was an inability to collaborate.

As a result of their failure to establish clear guidelines and a framework for measuring progress, these teams were unable to achieve their end goal. The study was a sobering reminder that if dysfunction can occur at the multinational level with hundreds of millions of dollars attached to the outcome, it can threaten projects of any scope and size.

Team Collaboration with Clients

3 Safeguards Against Poor Team Collaboration

  • Establish a culture of accountability
    From the moment you embark on a new project, make sure your processes, context, goals, expectations, and timeline have all been clearly defined. Even more importantly, be sure each person involved knows their role and has a direct report they can approach for questions and clarification.
  • Encourage face-to-face interaction
    There is still no substitute for hunkering down in the same room and sharing concepts in real time. But in this era of digital communication, teams must adopt a bare-minimum “videos on” policy when meeting over the phone. And as frequently as you can, hold workshops instead of written briefs and in-person meetings instead of phone calls.
  • Keep it brief
    How many meetings have you been a part of that quickly devolve into roundtable discussions where everyone in the room feels authorized (or worse, obligated) to weigh in over the tiniest details? Whenever possible, skip the long, drawn-out meeting in favor of quick check-ins and daily stand-ups to share status updates and project feedback.

The Other Secret Weapon for Speed: Iteration

For most Silicon Valley agencies, Apple represents the gold standard, boasting one of the most successful design processes ever implemented. And there’s one major component of the Apple process that smaller firms can and should mimic: iteration. Apple never stops tweaking, even after manufacturing begins. They continue building, testing, and reviewing throughout the product development lifecycle, ensuring with each new version a better product than before.

Working in iteration

Here are a few ways cross-collaborative B2B website creation teams can approach iteration while maintaining speed and momentum:

  • Don’t mistake the presentation for the process
    It’s important to remember that when Apple does its signature “big reveal” presentations, they should be appreciated for what they are—a marketing technique, not the design process itself. Gone are the days when an agency could disappear for weeks and then reemerge to unveil an amazing, water-tight concept. In today’s fast-paced environment, routine check-ins and temperature gauges are more important than ever.
  • Small wins make for big momentum
    As outlined above, expert design in the current era calls for much closer collaboration than in generations past. We achieve this by sharing ideas and works-in-progress, gaining approval on a regular basis that amounts to smaller “wins.” In that way, we can move forward quickly, knowing we are on track and riding the momentum we need to ensure a quality final product.
  • Small failures keep the project moving
    At the same time, echoing the famous business adage of “fail fast, fail cheap,” small fails are essential to fast-moving projects. Where a big strategic flaw has the potential to totally derail your project, small setbacks serve as necessary learning lessons that will make it easier to change directions, bring your teams closer together, and ensure a more fail-proof end result.

Being Fast and First Won’t Ensure Longevity

These days, everyone wants to be first and best in their field of expertise. But bringing a new concept or idea to market quickly doesn’t always ensure market dominance. In order to be successful, producers in this increasingly competitive environment must achieve a blend of speed, cross-team collaboration, and iteration.

With those pillars in place, you can begin not only executing at Silicon Valley speed, but creating ever-smarter solutions that will solidify your place as an industry leader among your contemporaries, competitors, prospective customers, and longtime partners.

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