Creative Marketers, Unite!
I once jokingly wrote that “you can’t spell collaborate without labor.” I was just joshing. Mostly.
While I’ve never been a let’s-get-twenty-random-people-in-a-room-with-some-LEGO-bricks-and-play-our-way-to-a-big-idea kinda guy, I am a huge believer in creative partnerships.
I have seen brilliant ideas come out of creative duos and trios. When I work with strong creative collaborators, I am more confident in my concepts, quicker on my feet, more objective, less sensitive and sincerely proud of the outcomes. It is critical for creative thinkers (like retail marketers) to find their idea-making partners.
Access to the fresh point of view of a trusted and admired colleague (and, if you’re lucky, friend) is invaluable. Bouncing ideas off a partner, and leaning on her for thoughts and builds and critiques, magnifies creative quality and maximizes output. Working with a creative partner powers:
- Efficient decision-making. Sounding boards and on-the-fly reality checks keep things on track.
- Momentum. When one tires, the other can still drive toward the goal.
- New perspectives. The ideas are better when broader experiences, more life lessons, diverse insights and different areas of expertise go into their creation.
- Validation. A good partner may see the flaws in the work, but she will also cheer for your best ideas, and support them with her own.
Without a doubt, collaborating on ideas can yield incredible results – when done right. Here are some strategies to get the most out of a creative partnership:
Plan for friction.
It’s gonna happen. Two people, even great friends, will eventually disagree. Egos are fragile things. So try to think of opposing opinions as opportunities for insight. Anticipate creative differences and answer some questions in advance of the idea session. Who owns the project? Who is the ultimate decision-maker? What’s worth an argument? Who is empowered to diffuse a stalemate? Where is the passion coming from?
Regularly switch roles.
If you’re always the critic, try being the consummate supporter. Usually a hard-and-fast realist? Be the dreamer. Step out of your comfort zones and expected roles, and see (and say) things in a new way.
Challenge each other.
A creative collaboration works best when it tests everyone involved. There should be some pushing (and some sparring). Force the best ideas to become bigger. Don’t let your collaborator think small or squander an idea. Seek feedback, and then listen well and be accountable.
Try not to introduce criticism into the creative process too early. This is, first and foremost, a building process. And remember to balance evaluation and constructive feedback with enthusiasm and authentic encouragement.
If you don’t laugh, guffaw or giggle (I’ll even give you “chortle”) at least three times during a session, you’re doing it wrong.