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Creative Collaboration: Why Fewer Rules are Better

Creative Collaboration: Why Fewer Rules are Better

Beyond • March 6, 2014

Matthew E. May of 99u believes that, “Our creativity is often determined by how actively engaged and focused we are. Sometimes our focus is dictated by the constraints, or rules, we apply to it. The more we focus, the more we create. The more we create the more we enjoy our work. And the more enjoyable, expedient, and efficient an experience is, the more meaning we give it. And here\'s the thing: the simplest rules create the most effective experience.” It may seem like Matthew is advocating rules, but in fact he isn’t. Rather than breaking the rules entirely, he recommends fewer, simpler rules. When building your creative team, offer them wide leniency to play and create – just as long as they stick to the core rules. As a supervisor, this will help you prevent from interfering or micromanaging the project as well. On that note, offer your team the flexibility it needs to get the job done. Allow them to dictate when and where to meet, how to work, and how to delegate responsibility. Your primary concern should be to receive routine progress summaries and to see the job done. [However, rather than waiting for the job to get done at D-day, I recommend breaking the project up into smaller deadlines, which allows you to routinely check in to determine the project is on track without interfering heavily.] As is the nature of the creative types, expect your creative collaborations to be play-based, but one that encourages debate and dissent. A free-for-all brainstorming session isn’t quite as productive in terms of quality of yield as let’s say an environment where ideas are freely challenged. In the interview with Mashable, for example, Imagine author Jonah Lehrer cites studies that show how “encouraging debate and dissent can lead to a 40% increase in useful new ideas from the group.” Your ability to scale back shows your understand of the type of workforce that’s already saturating the market. It’s the Millenials and its Generation-Y workforce, as Elite Daily writer Lydia Teffera phrases it, “…will never be able to work from nine to five.” In an article by the same name, Teffera shares how despite watching our parents grind the 9-5 routine, Generation Y has been equipped with the tools and social climate that enabled them to escape confinement of traditional routines. “They say the potential of multiple solutions and created their ideal work environments.” In short, they’ve been able to create – and create successfully. This gives them the needed confidence to expect the same sort of freedom to explore and create, on their own schedule, in the workplace. This doesn’t mean they won’t show up; it means they’ll get the job done but show up when it suits them. This also means no more “looking over shoulders.” Your creative team is likely comprised of young twenty and thirty somethings who “don’t want to be shut off. They want to be in the same space as their colleagues – even if they have their headphones on while working on their tablets and laptops. These communal spaces give people a greater sense of comfort and connection with their employer, too.” The quote, offered by Don Ricker in a Work Design Magazine article, astutely summarizes what you can expect when forming a collaborative team made up of Generation X and millennial workers. As a leader, your job is to understand the varying psychology behind different personality types, including this millennial workforce. Your job, invariably tougher than it sounds in a corporate culture where you must loosely corral the team, is not to dictate the process but to ensure the results.


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