The topic of "Collaboration" has been surfacing around me lately and I wanted to address the topic as it relates to creative ventures.
The question is "What does collaboration mean to you?" I have had a few colleagues share with me their experiences with collaboration. Some experiences have been positive while for others have been described as a "nightmare."
When I think of collaboration, I think of all the individuals contributing to a project or venture and all parties being credited for their contribution and have the opportunity to benefit equitably. In a perfect world, we will be able to all agree on the terms and shake hands. Experience cautions against the "good old handshake" and suggest a more formal approach. When it comes to someone we have known for a long time or a friend or family member, we are often uncomfortable with taking what can be perceived as an impersonal approach.
However, regardless of whom you are collaborating with, it is always a good idea to consider the following:
- Outline the terms in writing prior to starting your project
- Clearly define how each person will be credited for their contribution
- Outline how each individual will benefit from the venture
- Protect your ideas and creative contribution by copyright or trademark were applicable prior to "shopping it around" (this protects everyone's interest)
- Have respect of each other's creativity and place adequate value on their contribution to the final product
- Acknowledge what each person's time is worth financially
- Be professional!
- Know when to "back-out" if needed
- Always ensure that you are speaking the "same language," it can be very easy for someone to genuinely misunderstand, based on their personal definition of the same words
- Value of each others talents and mutual respect is important
Over the years I have worked with others and I have had diverse experiences. I have found that respect is a great place to start and can go a long way. I also think that individuals who value their work can value the work of others. I have also had the misfortune of meeting individuals who have an idea and speak of collaboration, but who's objective is to be the only one to gain from the experience.
If someone works (minutes, hours, days, months, years) on shaping an idea or concept or contributes to its development and helps to bring it to life, they should be acknowledged for their contribution in a way that allows them to grow and develop from the skills and knowledge they have contributed. Each person's growth and development should be at the core of the collaboration. If only one person stands to benefit from the "collaboration" then someone ends-up with the short end of the stick. As an added note, "a work-for-hire," means you have walked in with everything in-hand and you have provided specific instructions with no expectation of creative input from the other.
I have been fortunate to find a handful of individuals who I can truly credit with the ability to collaborate. There are many collaborative projects that work well. The objective of this post is to emphasize, "no one is an island." We all have something of value to contribute to another, but the key word is value. Valuing each other and valuing ourselves will in my opinion always nurture a successful collaboration.
Share with us your experience with collaboration!