Win/Win Collaborations

flower theme by Liane Sebastian
It is my good fortune to work with many creative professionals. As I evaluate the experiences of collaboration that I’ve both enjoyed or lost sleep over, the differences between the two groups come down to predictable ingredients. Having just finished a blog entry with Jan Long, although a tiny project, it demonstrates some of the aspects of good collaboration. I started with her parameters, wrote a draft that she then better adapted to her format. On the other end of the scale, when working on a large client project as part of a team, observing great project managers is part of what I love most about business.

In contrast, I’ve had a few collaborations that left me feeling sour—when the partner didn’t hold up his or her end of the bargain. It is never what anyone wants to have happen, so how can stubbing toes be avoided?

The base of constructive collaboration is in building the right relationship. It doesn’t happen without that foundation. The best project managers know that the only relationships in business that are profitable occur when goals are shared. If everyone agrees on the direction and the importance of the business cause, then all differences can fall into perspective. If goals are not embraced, then other motivations take over that often are not in the best interest of the business. It is remarkable how many employees do not equate success in their employer’s business with their own success! Knowing and sharing goals also depends on good communication—a clarity of momentum that everyone understands, shares, and builds into a culture.

flower theme by Liane Sebastian“Every conflict provides an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to enrich a relationship. The opposite of love is apathy, not hate. As long as there is conflict in a relationship, there is energy to work on it. Once apathy has set in, it may be too late.”
—Ruth Herrman Siress, Working Woman’s Communications Survival Guide

flower theme by Liane Sebastian“Be specific about your goals and expectations. Don’t assume that others know what you’re thinking. They can’t read your mind.”
—Dr. Donna Brooks and Lynn Brooks, Ten Secrets of Successful Men that Women Want to Know

flower theme by Liane Sebastian“Keys of Business Parenting:
1. Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them.
2. Employees need consistent feedback.
3. Employees will test their environment.
4. Business tools are a manager’s best friend.”

—Katharine Crowley and Kathi Elster, Working with You is KILLING Me

flower theme by Liane Sebastian“All broken relationships can be traced back to broken agreements. If you want self-respect, if you want to stand out in the business community, if you want great relationships, and if you want to be trusted, keep your word.”
—Fran Hewitt, The Power of Focus for Women

I add to these wise women by my observation: the best collaborations are the ones that acknowledge and keep egos in perspective. The difference between a professional and an amateur is knowing the difference between your personal opinions and those appropriate for business. Because I sell creativity, this distinction is critical to determine what directions are best to pursue. A designer’s job is to be chameleon because the results must “look: like the client. Yet the design stems from a point-of-view, approach, or style—which is why we are hired in the first place. Putting “myself” into a design just happens naturally and is not something I think about.

Stylistically, I prefer the “less is more” school of thought. My portfoliois called “elegant.” It’s even called “classic” because I hope that clients will use my designs for a long time. The point here is that the better the collaboration, the better the work. My best designs are for inspiring clients—whether the subject is an industrial brochure a an event promotion series.

What ingredients are present in your best collaborations? I hope these ideas help you define the best scenarios for accomplishments. —Liane

Liane Sebastian, illustrator, designer, writer, and publishing pioneer

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One Response to “Win/Win Collaborations”

  1. Personal Collaboration « Wisdomofwork's Blog Says:

    […] Also see “Win/Win Collaborations“. […]

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