But (and let’s just keep this between us okay) we are sometimes better at talking about collaboration than we are are doing collaboration. Put it another way: A Meeting Does Not Make a Collaboration…You Just Made a Meeting.
I find this question popping up all the time to me. “DK, how can we increase our collaboration opportunities?” My answer is pretty simple:
The biggest problem with really strong collaboration is the fact that it is built on, well, kind of lame-o ideas or initiatives.
Now don’t take out those pitchforks and torches and storm Cafe DK quite yet people. Hear me out.
Too often our ideas of collaborating come from necessity. We need a certain skills set our crew doesn’t have; call in “that guy.” Our proposal won’t get to the right people, unless we call “connected girl.” We can’t afford to put on this kick-ass event, but we might if we call “moneybags organization.”
The best time to collaborate is when ideas are being generated. In this initial stage, when things are bouncing off walls and creative juices are a-flowin’, inevitably natural allies and partners will bubble up during the exploration stage of design. A key phrase will trigger a name, or company, or nonprofit organization. Keep a running tally of those pop-ups as they appear.
Conversations don’t cost you much. In fact, they are value added, if you let them. Contact those potential players and schedule time to pitch your collab-idea. If nothing else, the interaction will be a nice networking moment; more likely the person/organization will be thrilled to be considered such an asset/resource and share some cool thoughts/feedback; hopefully (if you have a like-minded, kick-ass collaborator type you’re visiting) the meeting will spawn even more ideas and the road to collaboration ready to travel. See? Nothing negative there, huh?
But be bold. No one gets fired up over “Hey, can we collaborate on this grant? I need someone who can write about pine trees and the dangers of certain chemicals on lawns.” YAWN….. But someone might be jazzed if approached with, “Hey… wanna BOOM this community with a new approach to a greener, beautiful community?!?” BA-ZING!
The fear lies in the potential for failure. Biting off too much. Gaining a one-side collaboration that yields more work than if alone on a project. Not getting along and breaking up the band.
Hey… Chill there cowboy.
That’s the added bonus of collaboration. Collaborators increase their confidence.
You will see in collaborations a new side of you – if you let it happen. You will begin to reveal your “Inner Dance Partner.” What’s that? It’s the moment when you realize that your moves, creative ideas, and skills can complement another’s. Now you’re dancing. And THAT’S what make collaboration meaningful, practical, and beneficial.
So be bold in your ideas. And realize that collaborating will not only assist your creative in becoming reality, but it will boost your own confidence and leadership. Makes you wonder, why AREN’T you collaborating more?
Good question… time to build some new, bold ideas… and find that dance partner. Hit it, Gene. ~DK