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    « In Pictures: The Ashden Awards | Main | Proximity Receives the Ashden Energy for Agriculture Award »
    Sunday
    May252014

    Design Team, Dream Team 

    Friday afternoons at our Proximity Design lab are spent creating masterpieces such as this one:

    Or they're spent with our 5 engineers challenging each other to build spaceships with the help of CAD drawings.

    We can understand why you might be a little confused (after all, some of our videos make it seem like our design team spends their time playing with robots) but we firmly believe that to create high quality products, we have to constantly improve what we're making, and by extension, we have to continuously improve and expand our skills. Which is why Design Team leaders encourage employees to take time away from current projects and work on individually set Personal improvement Projects. PIP's could be anything from mastering excel and Burmese language to learning all there is to know about human-centered design. On occasion, the team will invite experts and host workshops on graphic design, sketching, CAD modeling or Photoshop (which resulted in the inspired rendition of Aung Ko Ko above).

    It's not often that people feel encouraged to improve skills of their choice at their workplace, and yet, we believe constant growth opportunities are the key to feeling motivated at work. Taiei Harimoto tells us that the PIP's helps him feel like “I’m valued and my development is valued.” What's more, there's a sense of unity and ownership within the team, not just thanks to the PIP's but also to the ever evolving Team Improvement Projects first begun 4 years ago.

    “At the Design lab, we prototype everything,” explains Aung Ko Ko, as he remembers when the team first used small cash incentives to motivate team members to make the workshop space more intuitive and accessible. “After a while, we realized we didn’t need money, and we switched from an individual incentive to a team incentive.”

     Years of labor result in a spanking clean workshop

    Indeed, when you first walk into the lab, the first thing you'll notice is the way that everything is neatly laid out and labeled. All of it, from the personal markers members use to show they've borrowed a tool, to the forms filled out to notify others that a particular material is running out, has been achieved gradually over several years. 

    Upon closer inspection of the workshop, you'll see the art is in the details

    The team spends one monring a month working on Team Improvement Projects that enhance the day-to-day experience of the lab space. Projects are then assessed on a scale of 1 to 8 depending on the impact of each improvement. When the team racks up enough points, they grant themselves a reward, such as a movie outing or a factory visit. For a while, there was talk of a Yetagon tattoo reward for 240 points, but, a fridge won out in the end. 

     

    Paintball, movies, and go karts: all part of a hard day's workCurrently, the design team is updating its reward system (if you have any suggestions, leave a comment below!). We're crossing our fingers that the next iteration will still involve someone on the D team getting a Yetagon tattoo. After all, a fridge is nice, but the Yetagon logo would make a stunning tattoo... anynone?

     

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