Collaboration is hard at the best of times, with every workplace having disparate personalities, differing working styles, and varied communication types. However, with businesses moving towards distributed workforces and online relationships, it seems to be effective collaboration is harder than ever.
Nowhere are these challenges more apparent than with creative collaboration, which is a critical part of any 21st-century business. Content marketing, live brand activations, and other creative projects are the bread and butter of today’s tech-savvy startups and SMBs, and streamlining the creative process is key to success.
That said, there are processes and tools to help your businesses foster creative collaboration regardless of their size. So, let’s take a look at what creative collaboration is, why it’s essential, and how your business can successfully implement it in teams.
After we’ve nailed that down, we’ll show you how Spike enhances creative collaboration with project management tools, real-time collaborative environments, as well as synchronous and asynchronous communications tools. Read our guide to learn more.
What is Creative Collaboration?
In the simplest of terms, creative collaboration is two or more people coming together to create something new—often in innovative, imaginative, and inventive ways. In practical terms for a business, this means having the time, space, and opportunity for various creative forces to come together to generate ideas and lay down plans.
This idea is opposed to the traditional “single creative mind” approach to forming new products or ideas, where one person comes up with everything before passing the buck onto the next person. That is more of a linear, non-collaborative approach.
Why is Creative Collaboration so Important?
While for many years we held up the “individual creative genius” as the inventor of great things and provider of breakthroughs, we have now started to recognize the importance and necessity of group creativity.
A collaboration involving multiple people and personalities, each with individual skills, talents, and perspectives, can achieve things that a single person could only dream of. One of the reasons creative collaboration is so challenging is people’s differences, which makes it so strong.
Breaking down the barriers between team members and entire teams allows for input to come from many different places, resulting in outcomes that no single person would have thought of. It also allows each individual to bounce ideas off of and draw inspiration from others around them.
To put that into real-world terms, these challenges more apparent than with creative collaboration suggest that inspired workers are 250% more productive than those that are merely satisfied, a huge benefit that cannot go unacknowledged in any industry!
How to Implement Successful Creative Collaboration
Creative collaboration, as mentioned, can be a challenging endeavor. However, it is incredibly important for teams, and there are several things that you can do within your business and team to help achieve creative collaboration going forward.
That said, it is important to remember that these are not quick fixes but rather long-term strategies to improve your team collaboration. These actionable items will take time to implement, and it will likely take even longer for people’s mindsets and the company culture to change.
This shift in mindset is vital for creative collaboration to really be effective, which is why it is so important to have everyone on board – from the top to the bottom of a company. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the key aspects of good collaboration and how to achieve them in your business.
Remove barriers — prioritize togetherness
Collaboration is all about working together, and to make this happen; you have to remove the barriers that keep colleagues apart—namely, feelings of discomfort or opposition to creative feedback. To have valuable collaboration, all team members must feel relaxed and open with one another.
It takes a long time and a lot of work to reach a stage where people actually bring down these barriers enough to share ideas or work and then receive genuine feedback on it. When they do, however, it can result in some of the most valuable and supportive creative collaborations possible.
For larger teams, the process of getting comfortable with feedback begins with encouraging anonymous professional feedback—through an online form, for example. This promotes the idea that ideas can be challenged in a supportive way. Of course, it is important to also establish some basic rules beforehand to ensure that the anonymity this type of feedback grants isn’t exploited to give overly harsh or unhelpful criticism.
Smaller teams should be encouraged to engage in social activities to foster a sense of comfort between colleagues. Yes, team-building exercises may have fallen out of fashion in recent years, but there is a reason that creating social cohesion in the workplace has been so valued for so long. Even simple activities like a happy hour can prove hugely beneficial when it comes to creative collaboration.
However, as with all of these steps, including team members in the decision-making process is vital. Consult individuals about what they would like to do or how they would like to get to know their colleagues. If you don’t have your team on board, you’ve failed before you’ve even started.
Set clear objectives and make sure everyone is aligned
Another key aspect of creative collaboration is ensuring that everyone on the team is heading in the right direction. Since it is a creative relationship, everyone is likely to be taking different paths, but the end goal should be the same. With creative projects, the thing you’ll end up with might not yet be entirely certain, but ensure that your objectives for reaching it are as clear as possible and that everyone involved knows exactly what they are.
Once a team or company goals have been set, the next step is ensuring that individual tasks are assigned to them—each team member’s To-Do List and Task list should be pointed squarely at the end objective. Each member should know how they are contributing to the end goal and how this contribution fits in with the rest of the creative team.
Sometimes, especially in creative projects, we get the feeling that we need to get started right away, but setting clear goals is a vital step of the collaborative process, even if it takes a little more time (and a few more meetings) at the start of the process.
As a team leader or manager, an important part of wider creative collaboration is reviewing the work that is being done. This enables you to make sure that it is on track and to flag up any opportunities for crossover between team members or departments.
However, it is very important to avoid micromanaging! People should be left to their own devices—especially with creative tasks. To ensure that your company doesn’t fall into this trap, establish communication channels early on and then use them regularly.
This could be one-on-one or team meetings to check up on progress, shared online drives where updated files can be added for review, or chat channels where you and your team members can quickly update one another with what you’re doing. As with all other aspects of creative collaboration, including all stakeholders when deciding on a review process is essential to making it work in the long run.
Know how to handle different working styles
As mentioned earlier, the strengths and struggles of collaboration both arise from the differences in a team. This is especially true in larger teams that can have numerous different people with different work styles, different backgrounds and even different geographical locations.
When leading a creative collaboration, it’s important to know how to handle all of these different working styles and, beyond that, encourage all of them to flourish. Knowing how to motivate everyone effectively, despite their differences, is a hard skill to master, but a vital one to keep your creative collaboration running smoothly.
At the start of the process, establish some basic foundations that you think will help you to understand your team, then have an ongoing cycle of feedback to understand what makes them tick and adapt your approach accordingly.
Crystal clear delegation
Good collaboration equals good communication, and an important part of good communication is clear delegation. Every single team member should know their role and responsibilities within the wider creative project. This should then be cemented in an ongoing process through the individuals’ tasks and responsibilities.
When setting out on a creative collaboration, delegate tasks according to people’s strengths, but always consider how they will interact. It is far too easy to unintentionally create functional silos, where “experts” in each area only do a single task. That’s why following all elements of a collaboration is so important, so there are open channels between team members and space to learn.
While clear delegation is key, don’t be afraid to change and adapt as a project goes on. Remember, creative collaboration is a process and not a single fix.
Involve decision-makers as early as possible
Every company has decision-makers, and it is vital that they are brought into the loop as early as possible for any creative collaboration. Otherwise, you run the risk of spending time, energy, and resources on a project which will only be scrapped at the finish line.
If possible, get higher-ups to attend early collaborative meetings so they know exactly what’s happening from the start and are invested in the process. Additionally, keep them updated as much as possible throughout the process. While they probably don’t need weekly updates, there should certainly be regular communication.
Spike Gives You the Tools to Take Your Creative Collaboration to the Next Level
The elements mentioned above are all key processes to get your creative collaboration running smoothly. Now, it’s time to look at the creative collaboration tools you can use to implement these processes and take your collaboration to the next level.
Spike brings all the creative collaboration tools you need into a single platform available on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and web. Your whole team can stay connected wherever they are, whenever they need to, and whatever their work style.
Seamless collaboration with real-time online Notes
Spike online Notes are built right into your Inbox and allow for real-time collaboration with your entire team. Capture text, images, video, code, and more in a single place accessible to everyone who needs it for ongoing review.
What’s more, Spike Notes can make for easy creative project management with task tracking templates and powerful formatting for lists, progress tracking, delegation, and more. With the ability to attach files and preview them without even opening, Spike Notes also allows for fast and effective draft sharing and feedback.
No need to send messages - use Voice Messages instead
Creative collaboration requires fast-paced and effective communication in a way that people actually understand. Text-based messages are a really important part of this, but when you or a team member need to explain the next great thing or that wacky idea with a thousand moving parts, nothing beats actually talking.
Spike Voice Messages allow for direct communication between team members conveying all the information they need when tone and tempo really matter. Unlike other platforms, there is no need to open up another app, with Spike Voice Messages available from your email, within a Spike Note, or a Group chat.
Send one directly to a colleague or to your entire team to keep everyone in the loop and able to deliver timely and useful feedback. Voice Messages are especially useful for building trust in constructive criticism since tone is so important and impossible to convey in an email.
Spike Video Meetings - bring your team together no matter where they are
Whether for your weekly jour fixe, one-on-one reviews, or a distributed team’s happy hour, Spike Video Meetings let you talk face-to-face. Within the platform, Spike users have the option to make video/audio calls with any other team members or group.
What’s more, Spike offers a free video-conferencing solution for everyone, so that you and your team can talk freely with external clients, contributors or partners without having to mess around with guest accounts or downloads
Creative Collaboration: An Achievable Goal?
Creative collaboration is hard, but with the right processes and tools, it is achievable in any business, with any team. Remember that the key elements of good collaboration are:
Breaking down barriers for effective feedback
Creating clear objectives and aligning your team
Regular and valuable reviews
Clear delegation by strength
Keeping all stakeholders in the loop (especially decision-makers)
What’s more, there are great creative collaboration tools out there to help you. Spike offers Notes, Tasks, Groups, File Management, Calendars, and more to help keep your team on track and your creative collaboration running smoothly.