Picking up from Pt1, here are some additional concrete ways to improve how we work together.

 

Show Notes:

  • Two Ways to Improve to Improve Your Brainstorms
    1. Roundtable
    2. Back-and-Forth
  • Clients as Collaborators
  • Creative Tension:

 

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. 

 

In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.          – Orson Welles as Harry Lime, The Third Man

 

  1. Great creative often takes some friction
  2. Great teams respect one another enough to accept this, so they get too sensitive
  • Don’t Spare Your Darlings
    1. First ideas are rarely your best ideas, let them go
    2. Don’t just put lipstick on a pig, sample what you like about that idea and create something new.
  • Seek Criticism. Not Praise. – Paul Arden
    1. Overcome your insecurities
    2. You won’t get better if all you seek is temporary validation
  • Honest Criticism is Hard to Take, Particularly from a Relative, a Friend, an Acquaintance, or a Stranger. — Franklin P. Jones
  • Criticism vs. Feedback
    1. One comes from a negative place, the other is genuinely aiming to help
    2. Don’t be overly sensitive, don’t be a jerk
  • Just Because Someone ‘Says What’s On His Mind’, Doesn’t Make it a Good Thing. Drunks Say What’s On Their Mind, Too.
    1. Be honest, but don’t be an ass
    2. Being rude and crude makes it harder to take you seriously
  • Teddy Roosevelt on the Critic

 

Transcripts:

 

Welcome to Episode 9 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity.

 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re back to talk about how to better work together. How to collaborate.

 

On this episode we’ll pick up where we left off last time, taking on some of the issues of collaboration, or the lack of it. And as we promised, we’ll be leading off  with two fresh spins on traditional brainstorming that will take you well beyond wasting those giant Post-its everyone uses these days.

Roundtable

More engaging, and with fewer distractions, this modified brainstorm brings out more ideas. And more importantly, leads to better ones.

  • Combine just enough tables to keep your group shoulder-to-shoulder
  • Unfurl a roll of butcher block paper
  • Give everyone something colorful to write & draw with                                   
  • Big and bold, in the center of the scroll, write out the question to be solved
  • Start playing music
  • Each person starts writing down as many ideas as possible
  • After 5 minutes, stop the music and have everyone take a step to their left

Now things start to really happen…

  • Start the music again, and now give everyone 2 minutes to build off of their neighbor’s ideas
  • Repeat these steps until the whole roll of paper is covered in ideas
  • Use stickers and have everyone dot their 3 favorites
  • Record the most popular on a wall and discuss
  • Find potential territories and list related tactics beneath them
  • Record and distribute

Add your own touches Roundtable. Do what works for you.

Back-and-Forth

This method is best used by 2-7 people who should be presented the question at hand 1-2 days before the session.

  • 5 min: generate ideas individually
  • 20 min: Get together in the group to share your ideas with each other
  • 20 min: The best ideas are then developed together by the group through regularbrainstorming
  • 5 min: After the sharing and development of the best ideas is completed the group separates to further ideate individually for 5 minutes more
  • During this time, you can either focus on coming up with new ideas or build on ideas from the previous share-out
  • 20 min: Get together for the last time to share your individual thoughts and once again develop the ideas the group likes the best
  • Before finishing the meeting, write down your group’s best ideas
  • Determine how to develop your group’s ideas further

Back-and-forth is designed to combine the best of both individual thinking and group efforts. Including people from various departments can add to the process.

Clients as Collaborators

Clients are now going to Cannes. They’re starting more and more inhouse agencies. They’re becoming more and more involved. Look for productive ways to involve them along the process or they’ll create their own rules of engagement that you might not like.

OK, let’s move on to one of my favorite movie lines ever as spoken by the late, great Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man.

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. 

In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? 

The cuckoo clock.

I love this line because collaboration is not all holding hands and singing Kumbaya. How well people respond to feedback and criticism are key to the final output.

So, while you may want to limit the amount of friction found in creative development, the right amount of respectful tension can actually inspire great results. Great leaders know how to find that balance between feelings and productivity, which reminds me of a great piece of advice I received years ago:

Don’t Spare Your Darlings

First ideas are rarely the best ideas. Still, many first ideas refuse to die, appearing and reappearing at every review. And those little tweaks aren’t making the work much better. Maybe even worse. That’s not to say that some first ideas aren’t good but learn when to move on. Take the essence of what you liked and rework it. Or create something totally different. The best creatives are the best editors. The ones who don’t fall head over heels over first ideas that do little but plug your creativity.

Don’t Seek Praise. Seek Criticism. – Paul Arden

 

The best creatives aren’t afraid to share their work. Just know that for every pat on the back you’ll get two kicks in the ass. But you’ll grow a thick skin. You’ll stick around.

 

Collect people you respect. I’ve been Skyped at all hours for feedback, sometimes by people I don’t even work with. And I appreciate the trust that comes with that. That’s why I tell it like I see it. I owe that to them. As John Hegarty says, Surround yourself with people who are unafraid to disagree with you, no matter how successful you get.

 

Honest Criticism is Hard to Take, Particularly from a Relative, a Friend, an Acquaintance, or a Stranger.  — Franklin P. Jones

Creatives pour themselves into their work. Having that work criticized hurts. Whether the criticism is right or wrong, the more you can embrace the process, the more that you’ll get out of it. Try to detach yourself as much as possible without getting defensive or dismissive. Work with your team over some beers and figure out the best ways to work feedback sessions. Together, you’ll work better. And you’ll get better work.

Criticism vs Feedback

 

Feedback. Most people aren’t good at receiving it. Most people aren’t good at giving it, either. That’s a major reason why collaboration breaks down. While used interchangeably here, feedback starts from a positive place. Criticism is more negative. More nitpicky. Want to give better feedback? Something that goes beyond fault finding? Be specific. Be direct and honest. Ask questions. Stay focused on the goal. Find the problems, not the solutions. And get to know each other to avoid any misunderstandings.

 

Just Because Someone ‘Says What’s On His Mind’, Doesn’t Make it a Good Thing. Drunks Say What’s On Their Mind, Too.

 

Tell the truth. Be honest. Be authentic. Unless you’re authentic jerk. Then figure out how not to make yourself the focus of the feedback instead of the work. That doesn’t mean coddling people. It means placing yourself in their shoes and being a decent teammate.

 

Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)

 

…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought on collaboration and criticism your team will have to endure:

It is not the critic who counts…

…not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.                                – Theodore Roosevelt

Memorize this until you can recite it word-for-word. It’s a great little pick-me-up after disastrous client meetings.

Well, that about wraps up our ninth episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.

 

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.