Our world and our society are constantly changing products and services are becoming more  and more complex and sophisticated new technologies are becoming a big part of our daily lives we’re also now confronting new challenges
such as energy sustainability or global warming Our old ways of solving problems are
becoming obsolete and due to the increasing complexity of our needs and the problems our lifestyle generates it is necessary now to take a holistic
approach to problem solving we’re here defining a new term
interdisciplinaryty or more specifically interdisciplinary thinking but what does that mean? well, interdisciplinarity is the
collaboration between different disciplines or areas of the study to achieve innovative solutions during the
creation process Although the creation process is not linear,
we will assume here that it has four different stages since they have
different characteristics and also a different approach to interdisciplinarity These stages are: research, concept, evaluation, and implementation The research methodology can take many
different shapes but it is always bonded to the increase of knowledge of the
subject. The concept stage is where we use divergent thinking. We set free our minds to come up with as many crazy ideas as
possible to later turn them into innovative solutions or innovative ways of using old solutions The evaluation studies the
feasibility and narrows down the possibilities using convergent thinking the implementation is to take action and
put into operation the product or service Here we need the specialists to develop
the outcome although still well organised, they can work more independently. The evaluation process has traditionally been
a multidisciplinary task Now, it is during the research and concept stages where innovation is born, and therefore where the different perspectives of the different disciplines are gaining more importance It is here when inter-disciplinary thinking comes into action Let’s now think of different disciplines
carrying out their work independently they find a problem and they use the tools
they have to solve it. But that is not enough Usually projects are not only related
just to one area of study They can be analysed from the perspective of
different disciplines Let’s now imagine the outcome as a jigsaw created by the input of the different areas related to the project if they’re working independently they can
only see the information related to their piece of work That can have two negative effects in the
process. It the pieces of work cannot be joint It is a waste of time. On the opposite hand, if their results are too similar, it’s a waste of resources If we get them to think all together from
the beginning it will be easier to think of the project as a whole and to be more precise handling the
resources and information during the process For all those reasons, it is now time to work towards that interdisciplinary collaboration and find out the way to make it effective. It is necessary to develop a solid
platform to enable this process the first to step for that is to identify the barriers that
can come up during this sort of practices Some of those difficulties are very
similar to general teamwork obstacles whereas others are more specific to inter-disciplinarity In first place, it is important to be
aware of the fact that collaboration always happens between people therefore good communication and understanding are vital for its success Gathering different disciplines implies
to bring together different perspectives and when people feel strong about their
ideas it’s easy to pass from discussion to argument Therefore, it is very important that all
the members take an open-minded and respectful approached a discussion. But that doesn’t always happen. If the
communication is not channelled there will always be negative comments such as “that wouldn’t work” or “we don’t do it that
way” There will be people molopolising the
conversation and trying to impose their ideas Sometimes, two professionals can argue even
saying the same or a professional might not participate
just because he does not feel in control of the subject and is afraid of the others’ reaction to his ‘ignorance’ listening to others, sometimes, seems to be really difficult and it is then when parallel conversations start to take place or they can even leave the discussion,
mentally or even physically In order to assure the good
progress of the dialogue it is necessary the presence of an enabler: “a person
who can channel that communication” Apart from this enabler at the
discussion table during the research and concept stages. All the members and their inputs are at the same level. All of them are equals But carrying out a project does not only rely on thinking together It would be naive to believe that at the evaluation stage all the disciplines will have the same weight. There are two main aspects of the team
to be established the member’s contribution their roles
within the team People need to know what they’re meant
to do, how, who with, what for? If those roles are not well distributed
people tend to disperse their efforts and lose track. The group might eventually
achieve the result but it will definitely entail a waste of resources The lack of understanding in the contribution to be played is a common cause of failure in interdisciplinary
collaboration For instance to believe that our input
it will have a bigger impact on the outcome that it will actually have can damage the progress of the project
and usually leads to frustration and unnecessary competitiveness All the members of the team are
individuals with their own background, goals, motivations and agenda and it is important to identify what
everyone expects to achieve with their participation in the project as well as to assure that those reasons
fit into the global aims of the job In a big project, it might happen
that one discipline is subordinated to the main domain being used mostly as a tool, and without
much voice in the over-all project If this is not settled down from the
beginning it is probable to end up losing that collaboration Another obstacle for the good dynamics of the team is the discrepancy between self-perception and external
perception we take for granted that the people
around us see and understand our actions as we do they can like it or not, but they see
the same we do but unfortunately that is not always the
case and that difference of perception can bring confusion and serious
misunderstandings but we found out something very
interesting in our research and it is that the team actually has a
very solid opinion about the rest of the members If you ask individually to the members
of the team the personal and professional qualities of the rest of their colleagues they will have a very similar opinions about their teammates That leads to think that the team
perception is right whether that opinion matches with the self-perception or not But why does that discrepancy happen?
Well we can find several reasons for this fact. In first place it might happen that the self-perception is just wrong, and our idea of how our behaviour does not match reality It might also happen that our view of ourselves is based on a previous experience which wasn’t shared with
the rest of the members and therefore they cannot to use that
information to form their judgement finally it is also possible that our reasoning is not coming across and people cannot work out the motivation
of our actions. That’s why providing a framework for a feedback is so important To finalise, just to say that
interdisciplinary thinking as a business strategy has a great
potential It is actually becoming a need because
of the new challenges that our world present and the obsolete way of problem
solving we still use. It is the best path to innovation and it can help us to save time and resources It can be used in any sort of project, and in any sort of field, as long as it is necessary to think It is to be used at the beginning of the
process, in the research and concept stages. Interdisciplinarity is a team activity
and as we have seen the communication and understanding are essential as well as a good coordination of the roles and contributions of the different areas We have also stated the importance of
providing feedback for the improvement of the team dynamics Otherwise it has been also mentioned the
need of an enabler to channel that interaction between the team Finally, it is worth to point out that
interdisciplinarity is a great opportunity for designers Design is one of the areas of study focused on provoking creativity and specialized in the thinking process. Otherwise it is also an area based on collaboration with a long experience in
facilitation