It takes more than you to help make growth happen. This video talks about how to collaborate with others to maximize impact.
- One of my favorite things about life is there are billions of us, all having unique experiences every moment of the day, yet we share so many similarities. As human beings, we were created to be in relationships. No matter who you are, what your background holds or your personality, you desire community and collaboration at some level. Learning from others' successes, failures, and ways of seeing the world is incredibly powerful. In professional communities this process of growing and learning together can be even more transformative.
There was a definite learning curve when I first joined forces with other professionals. As any creative will tell you, collaboration is very much a part of the process of the design industry. We work with copy writers, illustrators, photographers, and other experts, depending on what the job requires. Over time, what allows you to enjoy your work more is doing it better, challenging your status quo, innovating, learning new perspectives, and being invigorated with new processes or creative thought. This stretching is difficult to come by on your own.
Collaboration is a powerful and effective tool to take your work to a new level. Here are key things to keep in mind when collaborating with other professionals. Have clear goals and expectations. You need to make sure everyone is on the same page right from the start. Several years ago we pitched one of our clients the concept of making a documentary to highlight the work that we were doing in Africa. I thought this would be a perfect project to collaborate with some other professionals I had always wanted to work with, from an illustration, music, and editing perspective. This project was outside of our client's budget for the year, so my invitation was straightforward.
Would you collaborate with me doing what you do best for a great cause? Amazingly, everyone I asked said yes. The key reason they said yes is that I clearly outlined the reason for the documentary, what I needed for them to provide in terms of their ideas and participation, and painted a picture of the experience we were about to have. It's important to begin the relationship with full transparency and respect. No one likes to be told one thing and realize later that more is required, or have the feeling of being misled. Take it seriously.
If the collaboration is not treated like real work, whether it's paid or not, the result will be less than it could be. This particular project had some big challenges. The whole team needed to go to Africa, with its sobering realities attached. Taking this particular project seriously was easier than most, but we had worked on other projects that were more more for fun and self promotional, and they all knew they went sideways. Why was that? Because we failed to outline the goals and expectations well enough at the beginning. Our attitude was too laid back, and the results showed that.
Trust, you're working with these new friends because they are great at what they do. Let them do their thing. Throughout the entire Africa project, I was a sponge. I asked questions, I contributed my thoughts, and I was open to others' insights and perspectives. When we were trying to figure out what music to use, I had different thoughts than the editor. But once I gave him some tone concerns, he did his thing and came up with an even better solution that worked perfectly. Same thing happened when I was working on the credits with the illustrator. I wasn't sure about some of his styling ideas but when we talked about how they could build and lead in and out of the documentary, we arrived at the perfect solution.
None of these successes would have been achieved if I didn't get out of the way and trust my collaborators. Commit to this effort. It's not always easy, but be committed to the process. In the end, the project turned out better than I could have imagined. I made some great new connections and was able to work with individuals I had admired from afar. And the best part, of course, was that the result helped my client be successful, and I learned some valuable lessons in the process. Even though there were some bumps along the way, I knew I liked working this way and I was determined to design a way to do more projects like this, and since then, the best projects have been the ones where we follow these steps and commit to the process.
Doing so makes communication, expectations, and timing work so well. Let the results inspire you. Keep raising the bar for your future collaborative work. I'm good at some things, and I'm not so good at others. But the world is filled with crazy talented people who are, so imagine yourself collaborating with those people and see how much better your project can be. The end result will be better for you, your collaborators, and most importantly, your clients. Learn from the experience.
Apply what you've learned to future collaborations. Since that first project, I've collaborated in varying ways on hundreds of projects. I've worked with others in my field on paid assignments, and we've worked gratis for causes that we felt passionate about. Cause collaboration is a key way to partner with others you admire, especially if your work culture is resistant to this type of thing. But whether it's socially focused or not, let the others you are collaborating with influence what you see, work, and listen. No excuses, give this a shot. You'll be refreshed by the results, I promise.
- What does your company do well? What does it not do so well?
- How and where to grow
- Identifying opportunities
- Developing a culture of growth
- Promoting your business
- Building your advertising team