Businesses, put down your power

Collaboration is the future; with industry, cross sectors or communities. Traditional structures, private ownership, market monopolies, profit-driven, micro-managing businesses are dead. It’s a new world. It is no longer about being a single handed best-in-industry.

Competitive working misses out on huge potentials of social change, solving real-world problems, bridging cultures and building communities. Not to mention shared equity and equality.

By Mandy Barker

As a creative studio, we view clients, other studios, industries and creatives as collaborators, partners and allies. Collaboration combines individual and/or organisational strengths and abilities. It provides opportunity to solve complex problems, positively challenge and push boundaries; all of which, lead to unexpected results.

It’s also worth looking at cross sector collaborations for new perspectives. A great story of this was a project by IDEO, where they brought together unlikely orgs Formula One and Great Ormond Street Hospital to improve the care of surgical patients. I was blown away when I read this a few years back.

Sail have been lucky to meet many businesses, organisations and communities who have become partners, clients and friends. Design is no longer enough, which is why over the past four years we have made a conscious effort to partner with varied sectors including psychologists, scientists, academics, graffiti artists, illustrators and communities; which have made projects thrive and have impacted change. Real-world change is the future. You can’t do this single handedly. Collaboration is it.

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 mean 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 (now more than ever) are a growing part of the ‘new’ 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 work on projects they are particularly passionate about. To support the sharing economy is a wonderful thing, and you will gain knowledge and valuable minds from it.

 

It can open 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. We did this by saying hello to Crystallised in 2018, and have continued a really great working relationship.

 

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. Strength in numbers, gives empowerment, perspective and diversity.

 

How to choose a successful collaboration
Work with those with similar values
If you have the same values and a similar ethos, you will have shared passion. Passion is where great ideas and discussion lie. If you or the other collaborator are apathetic towards the project, it will not work.

 

Connection
That gut feeling that you gel and connect. Balance and honesty is important – as is creative synergy and chemistry, 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, grey areas, 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; a world change.

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