Tips & Insights — 10 May 2017

Why the modern creative must be collaborative

Steve Jobs was one of the greatest marketing minds of the past 50 years. But even Jobs didn’t work in a vacuum. His ideas and his intuitions still needed the full support of some of the most talented product designers and researchers in the world. And he himself admitted that a big part of his successes were largely down to folks like Steve Wozniak and Jony Ive.

Yes, at the end of the day, you’re the creative brain. You’re the one who has to do the job. But you can’t do it on your own. Not that anyone will let you – these days approval processes are increasingly complex and demand input from a growing selection of departments and functions. Projects are more complicated than ever and require contributions from more disciplines than ever before. And that means if anyone other than your mum is going to recognise and appreciate your creative genius, you need to be a team player.

Fortunately for you, modern technology makes keeping everyone on the same page easier than ever. By proactively leading the switch to a collaborative mode of working, you can help streamline the approval process that’s currently holding everything up.

Pick the ‘right’ tools

One of the biggest obstacles to a quiet life is access to the ‘right’ collaboration tools. And we put ‘right’ in quotation marks, because everyone’s opinion of what constitutes the ‘right’ tools differs, even within teams.

Tell a Creative Director that she has to use a Windows PC to access the company’s collaboration software after she’s spent 20 years tied to a Mac, and don’t expect a can-do response. Indeed, such scenarios will often see the employee withdraw from the team, preferring to stick to their tried and trusted means of working.

Put simply: mess this up, and you’ll make the situation worse.

That’s why it’s critical to look for cross-platform collaboration tools that allow employees to work from their preferred device: PC, Mac, tablet or increasingly smartphone. Likewise, look for tools that offer seamless integrations with other software, making it easier for team members to continue working with their chosen apps. Dropbox, for example integrates with dozens of other common workplace tools, including Slack, HipChat, Asana, Trello, Salesforce and many more.

Pick the best option together, as a team. Include both in-house and remote workers, and maybe even clients. People are more likely to buy in to collaboration tools if they feel they had a say in their selection, and you may find a tool that appears perfect from a website or brochure doesn’t deliver on its promise in real-world scenarios.

Get managerial approval

There’s a lot to be said for using newfangled online collaboration tools – but it won’t happen properly without official blessing and buy in. Unluckily for you, that means you have to convince the boss it’s a good idea.

Luckily for you, they’re unlikely to need much convincing.

The modern marketing boss has a hard enough time keeping track of what’s going on as it is. They probably have to handle suppliers from other offices, companies, cities – sometimes even other countries. Knowing their situation and their progress will likely be a major headache – and it’ll be difficult to get a good idea without badgering people.

A solid virtual workspace platform is exactly what they need to keep tabs without looking like a busybody. Sell it in the right way, and you’ll solve managements’ problems as well as your own. Management like that sort of thing.

Put everything you do in the same place

Once you’ve convinced everyone being collaborative is the right thing to do, lead the way by making your work accessible through the new system.

And only through the new system. No emails. No over-the-shoulder rebriefs. Just the new system.

This will ‘help’ others to get used to the new way of working – and encourage them to provide feedback and questions in a way that you can easily manage and that doesn’t cause undue delays. Most importantly, it’ll help you maintain version control, and let everyone know what’s going on as it happens.

Paradoxically, embracing collaboration may be the best way for you to maintain the integrity of the work you do. Given those stakes, can you really afford not to do it?

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