Last month I met Alison Coward, founder of Bracket Creative. Bracket are a London based agency that work within creative collaboration. They not only facilitate the collaborative process, but also train facilitation and consultancy to third parties.
Alison, a guest lecturer in my creative collaboration module, went through all aspects of the collaborative process, outlining the difficulties, negatives, value in and ingredients needed for successful collaboration. She explained how different personalities were needed for a successful collaboration and surprisingly, a certain level of conflict was a necessity within a group.
As Alison parted with her wealth of experience, I could not help but recognise the familiarity of what she said. Each obstacle she highlighted, every personality trait she mentioned, all the endless positions you find yourself during the collaboration process.
It brought me back to my time as a musician in Dublin. Five friends making music in a house in the Dublin mountains. It was an incredible journey, and collaborating with those guys was always an amazing experience. It was probably the most creative point in my life to date. But even as close friends, we struggled at times to allow creativity to flow effectively and work constructively with each other.
Although we all brought something different to the table, we were all learning while we were doing it. We were experiencing some parts of the industry for the first time; learning what we were good and bad at. We didn’t argue with each other because we felt we were better at something, but actually, everyone involved was passionate about what we were doing, and when you feel something is the right thing to do, it can be very difficult to allow yourself to move away from that. More often than not, things were smooth, but we had our problems.
In particular, disagreements could always start easily between myself and my twin brother, the guitarist in the band. A relationship everyone experiences with their family. And as with family, the disagreements would end as quickly as they began.
It was through working with these guys everyday for ten years that I learned how to collaborate, without even really realising it.
Now, in my design thinking group, I find the skills I learned as a musician are transferable. I’m collaborating with completely new and different people, but I can adapt because I know what we need to do in the group to get us moving forward.
Our company, Hugh Manatee, has had it’s fair share of challenges, like all of the groups. Distance alone presents a problem, as at the two furthest points, we are three hours from each other. But we are learning how to overcome these problems and how to use our diverse skill set for the benefit of the company.
Stephi, can do anything on her mac. Her design skills are incredible and they show on the HOMEBRELLA website she created for us. She also makes sure that we have money, by looking after all the financials.
Kieran is our structured business man. While the rest of us are running around gluing ourselves to the table, he is looking at potential key partnerships and revenue streams.
Christie is the Mammy of the group and the all round creative. If there is something that needs to be tackled, she will have an idea to take it on that no one else could think of. And she also pretty nifty with her hands, a skill she demonstrated with our HOMEBRELLA prototype.
Four different people bringing four different sets of skills to the table.
Alison’s lecture has given us all some insight on how to keep a project moving forward, and how to keep an eye on the end goal. She has given us the skills to recognise things like, conflict is an important part of creative collaboration, and these skills are transferable to any situation.