Last week I wrote about the little “aha” moments I’ve been experiencing lately, sparked by a few eye-opening webinars I’d attended. I love that these continuing education opportunities are so accessible and so affordable (aka, free).
And, they’ve been extremely inspirational—not just for contributions to the White Space blog, but in my everyday work and working relationships.
One topic I’d like to expand upon a bit (from last week’s post) is about collaboration, which is at the core of our renewed value prop.
Stop, Collaborate and Listen
Don’t hate collaboration. Position it
For any company to be successful, there has to be varying degrees of collaboration. Whether internally or working with agencies, partners, or vendors, you have to learn how to work together. What too often gets lost is an intent focus on the “have to” and not on how to do it better or all the good and powerful things that can come from being open to others’ perspectives.
Ron Tite, the presenter of this particular webinar (appropriately titled “War & Peace in Creative Collaboration”), had many intriguing statements. One was particularly memorable: Don’t hate collaboration. Position it.
If you and those you’re working with are truly aligned on purpose, positioning collaboration becomes easier—for everyone. So, first steps might be to determine the who and the why. Who is in the room and why are they there? It shouldn’t be about the “politics” of an organization. That is, the attitude of “We must invite Sandra from Sales because she’s Sandra from Sales” is not an effective (nor efficient) method.
It shouldn’t be about the ‘politics’ of the organization
On the other hand, if you welcome Sandra to join you in the room because she has an insightful perspective—not simply because of her skill/position—that could be greatly beneficial. Sometimes, perspective relayed in the form of storytelling is the best way to get everyone on board, as in “This is what we did with this company, and why it worked so well. Here’s how it might fit into achieving your goals.”
Authenticity as the Foundation of Collaboration
Another pitfall that can be damaging is when a company starts to internalize strategy and either loses its collaborative perspective with outside partners or neglects those partners’ expertise. Most of the time this is unintentional, especially if one of those partners is an agency who is being paid a chunk of change for that expertise. What’s missing regardless is a foundation of authenticity—between parties and in purpose—that must accompany any collaborative relationship. If that foundation is lacking, everything that comes out of strategy weakens the brand’s position in the marketplace.
Of course, not every working relationship pans out and that’s okay. If there’s a gap in integrity, misalignment of purpose, or mismatch of goals, it’s far better to figure that out early on than to have it end in a messy divorce. I’ve been there as an employee of an organization who found out too late and it did not end nicely!
I’m fortunate that the way our internal team and the clients with whom we work understand the importance of truth and transparency in collaboration—and to that end, we do it pretty darn well.