“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
The power of collaboration
As a creative, it is easy to stay in your creative bubble. It offers a false sense of (comfortable) security and can feel like you are more productive and efficient. The thought of collaboration can seem complex with tasks that can seem overwhelming such as organisation, communication, and delegation. However, it is an investment of time well spent if you find a company or individual with complimentary or opposing skills. All it takes is structure, organisation and clear communication. And online collaboration tools such as Asana and Trello make it easier than ever before.
The risk of collaborating may seem overwhelming and daunting, but the rewards can be high. Collaboration pays off by combining individual or organisational strengths. It gives teams different abilities and skills needed to solve complex problems, challenge and push boundaries, all of which lead to unexpected results.
Business is no longer about best in industry single handedly. The competitive way of working is dying. It is dated and misses out on huge potentials of impacting social change, culture, and communities. Collaboration and innovation are key to not just make a project successful, but to thrive.
More minds on a project can mean more creative egos, but as long as you have a shared vision and end goal in mind, (for the appropriateness of the project, not your own gain) clear responsibilities and communication, the opportunities and potential impact can be endless.
Businesses and organisations need creativity more than ever before, to thrive, and stand out. As a creative studio, we see our clients, other studios, industries and creatives as collaborators, partners and allies. There are many talented creatives and organisations that when combined with like minded/complimentary skillsets, can have a big impact on change. Everyone is unique, and has different perspectives. In the creative industry, we should use this to the advantage of projects. Ideas spark and the unexpected can turn into impactful results.
You can also try collaborating with someone in a completely different sector for new perspectives. A great story of this is Formula One collaborating with Great Ormond Street Hospital (I was blown away when I heard about this) to save lives in the operating room.
The pros of collaboration
- Self awareness
Collaboration is an opportunity for you to understand and push your strengths, and your weaknesses. This enhances personal and professional development. It also enables you to learn new skills.
- Two heads are better than one
More minds means quicker thinking, because your ideas will be challenged both consciously and sub consciously. It is important for the collaborative team to challenge ideas based on the best intentions for the project (always referring to the end goal in mind). Having your creativity challenged may make you feel uncomfortable, and may hurt your ego, but it will make you a better creative. However, it is important this is done constructively, with rationalised reason, rather than ‘just because’.
- You will learn new skills
If you have complimentary skills, you will learn from each other, growing personally and professionally through new ways of working.
- Sharing economy
Remote workers are a growing part of the modern business landscape. There are a high number of talented freelancers who thrive from collaboration. Because freelance is a lifestyle offering wellbeing (through autonomy, control, flexibility), freelancers can produce excellent results, as they go after projects they are particularly passionate about working on. To support the sharing economy is a wonderful thing, and you will gain knowledge and valuable minds from it.
- It can open more opportunities
Picking up the phone and saying hello to someone who’s work you admire (if you admire and appreciate their work you more than likely have the same values, this is half of the battle towards a successful collaboration) can open up many doors. It doesn’t mean a collaboration will happen straight away, but if you meet for coffee and your skills and passion shine, it is likely they will remember you if a relevant project comes up.
- Solving complex problems
Collaborating can result in relevant and effective solutions. Bringing together a diverse set of people offers new perspectives and holistic views of complex social and creative problems. Arts, culture and public organisations do not make change single handedly, they collaborate, create unions, lobby to government for change across the sector. Together they positively impact culture and community, looking to assist and solve complex social problems. It has the same effect with smaller businesses and projects. Strength in numbers, gives empowerment, perspective and diversity.
How to choose a successful collaboration
- Work with those who have similar values
If you have the same values and a similar ethos, you will have shared passion. Passion is where great ideas lie, and this enthusiasm goes a long way. If you or the collaborator are apathetic towards the project, it will not get the best results.
- Make sure you have a ‘connection’
That gut feeling that you gel and connect. Balance and honesty is important – creative synergy and chemistry is important, but you must also feel comfortable challenging your collaborator.
- Complimentary skills
If you have complimentary skills you will have the practical skills to bring the solution to life much quicker. You can also use complimentary skills as an opportunity to learn new ones. Look to collaborate with people that have the relevant skills for best interest of the project. Look at portfolios, have a chat, make sure you get on, and pay fairly. Experienced people in their sectors will not come cheap, but will get the work done to a high level, and on time.
- Clarify responsibilities
Have each team member sign off on their responsibilities. Define them clearly. This will enhance productivity and efficiency. If you do not do this you run the risk of confusion, and tasks and deadlines may be missed.
- Clear communication
Define a clear timeline, milestones, deliverables and the end goal.
Everyone you meet knows something you don’t. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you. Say hello, have a conversation, and stay in touch. You don’t know where a coffee could lead: a project, a new friend, a mentor. Collaboration breeds innovation and change.