Embrace collaboration

I’m a firm believer that all of the best people are not necessarily housed under one roof in the same organization.

With this thought in mind, it makes the most sense to harness the best of the best and collaborate with one another. Build your own “dream team,” if you will.

Here are 3 keys to collaboration and 3 small steps you can take to get started right now:

3 keys to productive collaboration

  1. Strong leadership. It takes a strong leader to wrangle the proper talent to collaborate with one another. Unfortanely, by virtue of some partner relationships, they are predisposed to be set up as competitors. So it’s the leader’s job to help foster the collaborative spirit and break down those walls. The leader should also set clear, thought-out outcomes. That way everyone knows where they are headed.
  2. Checked egos. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, or how many perceived competing partners are sitting at the table. You’re focusing on a common goal and this should override competition. As a matter of fact, it helps increase accountability among all partners when they come together for the common good of a client and collaborate.
  3. Clearly defined roles. Any time you put the best of the best together you are bound to step on each other’s toes. Working together takes some getting used to. Clearly defining roles of each person in a team is important in maximizing each member’s contribution. Remember the USA 1992 Olympic “Dream Team?” This was the first Olympic team to include NBA stars, with the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Despite the competitive nature of these guys, there was a team-first ethos.

    We must fight for this ethos when we collaborate for the common good of our clients’ missions.

    As an agency partner, part of our job is to break down walls of competition and fully utilize each person’s unique skills and talents.

3 steps to get you started with collaboration right now

  1. Joint strategic planning. Get everyone from the agency and client side in one room and create a plan that you can believe in.
  2. Constant communication. From an agency perspective, it’s so helpful to receive a regular ministry update from our clients. It helps inform our work we do for you.
  3. Break down internal silos. Often times, functions can be siloed within an organization. But at Masterworks, each client team sits together so they can collaborate and produce their best work for each client. This means we have account people, creative folks and digital types all within earshot of one another.

This isn’t just conceptual — collaboration works in real life

I’ve had the privilege of managing our client relationship with World Vision and our relationship has typified collaboration through:

  • Biannual client input and strategy meetings that led to a comprehensive annual plan.
  • Executing the in-house agency’s annual themed creative for 30 Hour Famine in an integrated multichannel campaign utilizing direct mail, email, video, print and web. (We literally presented our creative executions to the in-house agency before the client team.)
  • Jointly launching website projects with their in-house digital team and in-house agency.
  • Developing an info conversion strategy that both the client team and our team executed.
  • Requesting and receiving balanced scorecard goals as an extension of client goals.

Collaboration isn’t just happening on our work with World Vision.

  • We have a track record of working with in-house agencies.
  • We regularly work with in-house digital teams.

I can’t help but think of the old folk story “Stone Soup,” in which hungry strangers persuade local people of a town to give them food. If you remember the story, you’ll remember the moral: By working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.

I’ll bring my stone – you bring your cabbage and let’s get to work.