Blogversation 2012: What are the keys to successful collaboration?

Throughout this year, several bloggers will engage in a conversation here and on their blogs — asking questions of each other and responding. Others are absolutely welcome to join the conversation, as well. Learn more about the ladies of Blogversation 2012.

Lesley Ware asks today’s Blogversation question about setting the stage for a dazzling creative collaboration

Today’s question comes from Lesley Ware,
On Twitter, Lesley is @creativecookie.

I’m certain that 2012 has been my most collaborative year ever. I’m working with a handful of amazing creatives to produce cool artistic projects and programs. All these relationships have been fruitful so far (only one got stale and needed to be dissolved).

I’m finding that collaboration is difficult to define when you’re not affiliated with an organization.  In my past life as a nonprofit program manager, collaboration was king. We often shared a formal agreement of how we would combine resources to reach a broader audience. As an independent artist I find myself trying to clarify the guidelines to a successful collaboration between two or more individuals.

So here’s my Blogversation question of the week:

Think about your past creative collaborations either on your blog, as an independent artist or in other settings outside a formal business structure, what are the two or three things that were established at the beginning of the relationship that helped you achieve your desired outcome? In a nutshell, what are the keys to a dazzling collaboration?

(I have my short list – and will share them at the top of the week, but I’d love to hear your ideas first)


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5 replies

  1. I really like Eleanor’s list. Having clarity around who’s doing what helps, and if that changes that’s fine, but that should be intentional and communicated, and that’s another function of that regular communication. Are these roles working? Do we need to adjust? Doing that in person helps to build the trust and sense of teamwork necessary to have open, honest conversations if something needs to change.

    I can’t agree strongly enough with the need to have someone in charge. It doesn’t need to be a boss/ employee relationship, but if there are several equally good ideas on the table, you need a tiebreaker, and you need someone who’s sort of project managing the deal, paying attention to deadlines, budget, conflicts, etc.

    I’d add to that choosing the right collaborators to start with. Do you have a shared vision for the project? Do your working styles mesh together? Can you communicate with each other well if things start to go off track? Sort of like a marriage, you don’t need to have the same personality but you do need to have some chemistry that clicks.

    I’m actually working on a story for PBS about collaboration so when I get that done, I’ll share it — I’ve learned some inspirational things. Stay tuned.

  2. I just read a great article in Entrepreneur on “co-failing” … I mean collaboration (

    I then read it with my right-hand (I’m the lefty on our team) and we both cried laughing. [She was taking notes, in case you’re wondering. And then quickly showed me her doodles. 🙂 ]

    Trust, a sense of humor, a common goal, wanting to give credit more than take it, and having skills and interests that compliment each other have made the best foundation for collaborative teams I’ve been lucky to be a part of. (My right-hand is also my editor so she would have fixed using a preposition at the end of the sentence….but since you’re just getting my thoughts, you’ll have to settle for just me.)

  3. Love this question, LW!! I’m thinking back to several years ago when a group of us planned and implemented The Brooklyn Blogfest together. Man, were we a great team! Reflecting on how we worked in the months leading up to the big event, here’s what I’d say were the 3 keys to our being a well-oiled machine:

    (1) Clearly-defined roles and goals from the outset. Everyone had a job to do, and we backed each other to do those jobs.

    (2) In person meetings every month or so to keep things on course. (Internet just doesn’t substitute for that!)

    (3) Having one person who is clearly in charge/steering the ship who also sets a tone of welcome to everyone who comes aboard and is truly interested in what the collaborators bring to the table.

  4. A specific vision, a timeline and communication.


  1. Blogversation 2012: Wrapping up a year of online conversation « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally

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