It’s a sunny and brisk opening day at the 2019 D&AD festival in East London. As the New Blood jury president for the McKinsey Case For Her brief, the standard and holistic mindset of the young creative teams is uplifting. Though I can’t help to think about the amount of collaboration that would be essential to execute for real.
The importance of collaboration in business is a common refrain. Especially in our times of heightened complexity and interconnectedness. A necessity when it comes to innovation. Where evidence tell us the best creativity comes not from solo work, or even a team but people networked across organisations and ecosystems.
But what if we think of the frequent calls for collaboration as a symptom rather than ambition? I’ve long noticed those most apt to preach collaboration are the least able to listen to others and give up control, to actually collaborate. I sometimes imagine everyone on a collaboration driven initiative thinking “collaboration, great, finally they will listen to me.”
A helpful definition of collaboration is “traitorous cooperation with the enemy.” Often blindly fuelled with a bias to action or low hanging fruit. The absence of addressing resistance or ambivalence results in passive commitment at best. Disintegration of the team at first opportunity.
A more helpful mindset is one of careful cooperation. Digital innovation, if significant, requires everyone to learn from everyone in a team and across teams to collectively synthesize something truly new. The first action, either through reflection or exploration, is to address the inevitable learning anxieties: the fears of difficulty, looking stupid or parting with old ways. Often failures can be linked to not addressing this selfish truth of collaboration and the collaborators.
Trial & Error
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I’ll be in London much of June then back to France in July; Beaune for the stomach, Fontainebleau/INSEAD for the mind and the Alps for the lungs. Say hi for ☕️
To a better today and tomorrow,
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