This month we’ve spent a lot of time talking about teamwork and what successful Productivity Ninja teams need. In the process, we’ve also managed to interview Dan Richards and get some insights into his top productivity tips and lots of insights into what makes a team function.
Name: Dan Richards
Occupation: Animation Director
Top productivity hack:
Hold a ‘10 at 10’ – a 10 minute meeting at 10 in which you discuss: a daily overview of tasks, problems, ideas, etc.
Have a creative review in the afternoon, in which you share what you’ve been working on. A creative overview, which gives everyone the opportunity to share what they are up to and what they are excited about.
What is your background as an animator?
I started at Bristol School for Animation, which was Aardmans Animation school. I went on to work at Aardamn on Wallace and Gromit, Curse of the Were-Rabbit. After that I came to Margate and set up my own animation studio, A+C Studios.
What made you want to start Animation Team Building?
A client came to us and said they wanted to do an animation workshop, so we developed a one off session for these guys, and it went really well. So we thought this might be something other people might be interested in. That was in 2012.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing teams today?
I definitely feel that we can change the way people work. We recently worked with an IT company, with a staff of about 100 people. The office had 6 people: admin and finance guys. 94 people work remotely in the UK and on 2 other continents, either working from home or hot-desk. More and more companies are being spread out more, so one of the constant challenges is to bring together more and more teams that don’t work face to face. We’ve had more workshops in half a year than we had the whole year last year.
Playing a big part in making sure that people are, you know working as strong as they can. Storytelling and being creative is something that companies are really promoting, giving skills and resources for employees to express themselves and changing the way they work- working away from one big central hub.
“A happy team is a more productive team”
What do your workshops teach teams?
- Creative workshops- sculpting plasticine, working with animation tech
- Creative thinking – encourage groups to debate and come up with ideas together
- Presentation skills
What is the main takeaway from your workshops?
The experience and the outcome is something we try to balance; and that the film has a legacy afterwards. The experience itself is just as, if not more important. Most people haven’t done animation before, so throwing people into new experiences and challenges in a safe environment where nothing can go wrong for people to experience a challenging project in a short space of time.
Compressing the animation process into just 2 hours can be really challenging, so it means that everyone really has to get involved and take part.
What are 3 key things in your opinion that make a team successful?
- Good communication- getting across your ideas is super important.
- Adaptability- being able to adapt to any environment, in our session the delegates are normally fish out of water, as they are not used to being in animation.
- Innovation – being creative and solving problems.
What makes YOUR team successful?
We are very much like a family, it’s a bit of a cliché, but everyone pulls together, people from all elements of projects get involved from start to finish.
We all work in one space, so we’re pulling in one direction. So it’s really the togetherness what makes us successful.
What do you do to ensure a good “team” environment at your office?
We have a studio (office) dog called Archie. The staff can take him on walks around the park for breaks and cuddle and play with him.
What are some team productivity killers?
People not listening, people not taking on board everyone’s ideas so having dominant people and having office politics and political structures that stifle productivity and creativity.