Let me set the landscape;
I'm a 25 year-old, nearly graduated, newly professional game designer. In the past month I have been involved with 3 separate projects which involve constructing some sort of game or presentation through collaboration on a small team comprised of relatively young, inexperienced members;
- Project 1; The culmination of several year's dedication to an experimental interactive music visualization app distilled into a 2 hour presentation for the local SIGGRAPH chapter.
- Project 2; The 3-month production of a satirical top-down shooter by a team of 4. The company's first project, all employees are currently students or recently graduated.
- Project 3; The creation of an original sand-box style 3rd person game using the UDK's tools and custom scripting with a team of 9 students.
The greatest asset in all cases, without a doubt, is the recognition and implementation of each member's abilities. This boils down to a constant audit through reviewing both the member's written/verbal communication and his quality of work. In all cases, every member of each project felt the need to contribute by elaborating on ideas. What I have noticed through these 3 projects more than ever before is that a person's ability to effectively communicate an idea is often diminished by his ego.
It's obvious in a group setting when someone takes the stage to communicate an idea. I have found that some members will contribute by first making a fairly concise statement, like, "...and we can lead the player to the West .", and then completely slaughter the group's attention and understanding with 3 paragraphs of analogies, references, and on the spot examples. This latter part does a wonderful job at raising all new potential ideas, which need further explanation, rebuttal, other member input, enthusiasm, query..... and everything but creating a cohesive picture of established topics.
Did anyone fail to understand the speaker's initial statement?
Does the team member feel that others in the room will somehow interpret the abstract spew of communication as a primer for the initial statement?
Does an individual have an internal point system which increases through contiguous speech?
Is the speaker afraid that if he pauses for a second to collect his thoughts he will loose his place?
I stopped a member dead in his tracks after, what I assume to be, hours of needless extrapolation;
"What are you trying to say?"---->"We need more enemies in this part!"
"I completely agree can we please focus on word economy?"---->"Um, sure..."
"Alright, so we understand, Person #2 what do you think about that?" ----> Progress!
With this, hopefully, humble steering, I have found that members of the team can acknowledge the validity of a person's statement and carry-on to further progress. It seems like a matter of winning little battles of logic, kind of like well written code.
"Does the last sentence make sense to everyone? Ok, let's assume it's gravy and see what that means in this context."
Without going too far into the philosophy of group work- I assume that an efficient group operates like a single mind. I know that, at least for me, the brain probably stops working so well (in a production environment) when it begins to fly into tangent land, abstract world, possibility planet, etc. All of these places are so important to your group's Awesome Universe when it's time to visit them.
In this case, if we can drop the ego, step out of the spotlight, add your well polished 2-cents, believe that everyone listening is making an effort to understand you- then other members can do the same.
During production, can I please just get a "Yeah, I think we should bake the normals and test it under the the engine's dynamic light set-up." Instead of a 3 minute soliloquy addressing your inner-most premonition on how you feel about the process?
All that said, the introspective blather is absolutely necessary, and that's probably why I'm typing right now :)