In an era of the reality television of American Idol and Project Runway, do you ever notice that the “group project” is the demise of many competitors? The flaming tempers, blame gaming, and emotional warfare are all group dynamics that usually result in either an off key melody or a bellbottom revival gone horribly wrong. These collaborations are dramatic and great for the ratings, but the work almost always suffers.
Although I feel like I am on reality television at times, the reality of it is that I am in the business of collaborating, so Heidi Klum saying good bye to me in German is not an option! In my day to day life I have been able to recognize 3 clear signs that a collaboration is going to result in creative gold.
Improv Rules Apply!
The brainstorm phase is SO important and is time well spent. We have all heard “no idea is a bad idea”, but I like to take this a littler further by following the first three rules of improvisations:
1) Say “yes’and!” – encourage free fall brainstorming
2) Add new information – extend the idea if you can
3) Don’t block – don’t think about the challenges of execution during this stage
If you find your notebook is full of sketches and scribbles your collaboration is working.
Big Concept to Concrete Idea
The brainstorming is over and now you need to have a consensus. Sounds simple, but this is usually where it can get tense. You need to take the ideas and match them up with project objective, if an idea is not aligned then shelf it for next time. Soon you will be down to one big concept, and that is where you and your contributors will need to edit the concept into a tangible, concrete idea. If you start to feel thirsty after this and find yourself sharing a pint, you are on to something great!
It’s in the Details
The execution stage can be daunting, exhausting, and unforgiving, but is does have a major payoff, the final product. It is easy to state “everyone needs to pitch in”, but many times when you get on site and expectations get lower and tensions get higher. To avoid these collaboration pitfalls, make a detailed plan for each role (and I mean DETAILED with clear deliverables, timing, etc.) and communicate as a group on who is best suited to this role. Once you have your role and you should feel prepared, excited, and committed to the project, this is a great sign that your creative collaboration will succeed.
Finally on a personal (self promoting) note, the last sign that your collaboration is successful is being nominated for a Star Award for Best Wedding Creative with your creative kindred spirit of Lea Romanowski from Designing on The Edge.
The Canadian Event Industry Star Award winners will be announced in Toronto on March 27th.
I have included a project Lea and I collaborated on last year, Rustic Winter Wedding, with some behind the scenes photos, and of course, the final product! Photos courtesy of Phil Crozier.