JUN 13, 2017

The Collaboration Model


I think a lot about work. But it’s not just the work, it’s how to work better.

The world is too dynamic today, too unpredictable, to rely on traditional ways of doing things. Technology, culture, people, we’re all changing at the turn of a headline, and we have no choice but to abandon the same old script of how we’ve always worked.

Somewhere between consultant and vendor, there’s room for a new agency role – that of co-creator, where the agency and client form a single team as partners. If consultants tell clients what to do, and clients tell vendors what to do, a new model built around collaboration doesn’t dictate – it’s a place where teams are solving together in real time, embracing trial and error and testing and learning to create iteratively and constantly.

The model has some fundamental truths – first, both parties must have a clear, common vision for what defines success. Second, they must agree that change is an expected part of the process that cannot be avoided. When you go in the direction of change, you give yourself the freedom to adapt, course correct and refine. Finally, that every bit of the way you work together has to be a little different.

What does that all mean? Let’s think differently – let’s see ourselves as one team instead of two, with multiple points of contact on each project. Let’s share more – let’s have one unified process where instead of waiting for someone to pass the baton, everyone is swimming in their own lanes at the same time. And lastly, let’s learn from digital and be more agile, less waterfall. Let’s eliminate bottlenecks, administrative hurdles and redundancies. Let’s just do the work, with everyone who has a role to play, in the most efficient way possible. Let’s be more flexible and less rigid, more do and less talk, more beating deadlines instead of setting them.

We learned these lessons the hard way – through doing, adapting and growing. We were recently asked four days before a major shoot to add another spot for a completely different product. We agreed and planned hard. We added the additional shoot, but it just wasn’t working. Collectively, we made the decision to stop mid-shoot, and went back to the drawing board. We re-concepted, got the work re-approved, and re-shot and edited, all on deadline. It wasn’t easy, but we made it happen.

Change happens. And we have to practice how to turn on a dime.


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