Go from war to peace in creative collaboration

Once upon a time, in the world of marketing, those people with the word “creative” in their titles were expected to be the only ones to bring great creative ideas to the table, according to Ron Tite, award-winning advertising writer and creative director.

During a MarketingProfs webinar, sponsored by OpenText Hightail, he said that times have since changed.We have to now start building our jobs and building our organizations to not only allow collaboration but encourage collaboration and operationalize collaboration.”

What’s causing creative friction?

Tite said that a changing ecosystem is one reason things are different today. The ecosystem used to dictate that consumers showed up for content they wanted to see—TV shows, magazine articles, etc. “And to consume that stuff, the deal was they had to see the stuff that paid for it. They had to see our messages.”

“Church and state are no longer separate,” he added. “Any ad can be a piece of content if it’s good enough, and any piece of content can be an ad if it’s authentic enough. And what that means is that because of these walls that used to exist between marketers and their agency partners and the content providers—the media companies, the broadcasters, the newspapers, the magazines—we used to never be able to collaborate because of the separation of church and state. … The walls have come down, and we should start collaborating with people who never before have been open to it.”

How we think about creative collaboration needs to change

While organizations acknowledge the need for creative collaboration, many still approach it the wrong way. Tite points out that have to ask yourself which type of collaboration it is:

Assembly line. “In the car world, the assembly line is where you make your money, because every single person has a very specific job. They know exactly what they’re supposed to do; they know exactly what their metrics for success are; they know exactly who they pass it on to. … In agency land, we say that they kill it and bill it.”

Concept-car innovation. When it’s time to innovate in the car world, they create a concept car that’s taken off the assembly line by a small group of people without hope or expectation of profit. “There is no process, there are no rules, they do it to do it,” Tite said.

“The problem with a lot of organizations when it comes to collaboration is that they’re trying to innovate the assembly line like it’s a concept car. The result is chaos,” he said. “You’re bringing tasks and tactics and properties and processes that have no rules and responsibilities identified and throwing them into a room, into a process, which should be assembly line.” He added that this can affect morale, costs, margins and quality.

Best practices for creative collaboration

Tite offered up several suggestions to ensure collaboration is done right.

Abandon bias in favor of working toward a common goal. He said it’s important to approach collaboration with the right perspective. “It’s not a group of people who are bringing their biases and their agendas and their responsibilities and the things that they are accountable for and ensuring that those things get heard. That is not it. It’s a group of people working toward a common goal.”

Build a parking lot. He said a “parking lot” mentality means ideas can be parked there to be evaluated later, since people are coming from completely different perspectives and might not “get it” at first.

Make it easy. Tite said it’s important to provide tools that can be used to collaborate in a really cost-efficient and time-efficient way.

Have each other’s back. Tite referenced his days working on an improv sketch show, where they would offer audience members a free improv set to help them create the next show, collaborating in real time and allowing them to access completely different perspectives. At every show, he said the group would say, ‘I’ve got your back’ to let each other know it was okay to flounder around in that collaboration. “It’s truly collaborating and supporting the people who are lucky enough that we share a purpose with, who are lucky enough to want to provide a perspective. That’s collaboration.”

For more of Tite’s suggestions, watch the webinar on demand.

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