Whether your team meets regularly in person or is scattered across different continents, there are always challenges to maintaining effective creative collaboration. And when your team is not aligned, it often results in broken workflows. The impacts can be evident and painful: project delays, miscommunication, finger-pointing, poor employee retention… the list goes on.
Many successful companies and teams got to where they are today because of a leader who saw the importance of collaboration. Whether you are in a position of leadership or not, is to learn from the best.
Here are some great ideas from iconic innovators who’ve got something to teach us about maintaining healthy collaboration for the benefit of your business, team, or project.
Henry Ford’s Revolutionary Labour Chain Ideas
Famous for his innovative, approach to the assembly line in building the Model T, Henry Ford revolutionized the manufacturing industry. The general concept of the assembly line is that as long as everyone is moving forward – together – success “takes care of itself”.
An assembly line, a supply chain, or a creative workflow is not only reliant on each separate step in the process being executed well. In a collaborative environment, success is often reliant on the effort and input from every individual involved – toward the same objective.
Poor communication, lack of accountability, and other issues can lead to breaks in that chain. To ensure everyone is moving forward efficiently, identify where that issue is occurring and what is causing delays. As with Ford’s assembly line, reducing causes of friction leads to a smoother collaborative process.
Disney’s Focus on Building Relationships (And Magic)
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”Walt Disney
Successful projects require good people. A healthy collaborative process doesn’t come without nurturing solid relationships within a team.
Ensuring everyone feels valued leads to increased innovation and people feeling comfortable contributing new ideas. When people feel comfortable contributing without fear of judgment, there’s more potential for “magic”.
In a thriving, positive team, you can create great creative work and deliver it faster – no fairy dust needed. And to build off of Ford’s ideas, an assembly line works best when everyone wants to do it for each other.
Anna Wintour Takes Charge from Afar
Not all decisions in a company come directly from the top. Good managers like Anna Wintour know when to take charge and when to lead from afar.
Taking charge, though, doesn’t mean having your hand in every decision. Wintour’s leadership stresses building a good team and trusting them. But it also means that overseeing healthy collaboration requires finding a balance between trust and management.
Managers within Wintour’s teams have autonomy for decision-making, and she encourages clarity and decisiveness. Clear and timely feedback helps her teams’ collaborative projects stay on track. This is true whether you’re getting a fashion magazine out on time or delivering a creative project of any kind.
Hire the best people, and let them do their work.
Steve Jobs and the “No Time” Concept
For creatives who are being relied upon by their teams for their ideas, there’s pressure to produce. But we all hit a “block” sometimes. When you’re stuck, not performing, or burnt out, though, you’re not only missing out on peak performance, but you could be hindering the performance of others.
Incubation of ideas and carving out time for creativity are essential parts of effective collaboration. Steve Jobs wasn’t the first to see the value in the “no time” concept. Albert Einstein knew very well that some of his most important ideas came to light while he was doing “nothing” at all.
In order to be more effective, the “no time” method suggests taking quiet moments of isolation within the day’s structure to shut out the noise and demands from obligations. Intentional relaxation of the mind gives us the capacity to visualize ideas, see the “big picture”, and for divergent thinking.
Ursula Berns on Trust and Taking Pride
The importance of crafting a team you can trust is clearly a common thread among these lessons. Ursula Berns, former CEO of Xerox, is no exception.
Berns became known for her unique “missionary” style of leadership within the company. Her leadership philosophy was to “leave any place better than you came in”. This translated to encouraging people on her teams to put their best foot forward, take pride in their work, and see their efforts as valuable.
Reaching a goal isn’t just about aiming for future success, it’s also about prioritizing a fulfilling journey and process for everyone involved. Give your team the right tools and the trust they need to succeed, then let them take it from there.
Ruth Ansel on Conducting a Team
As the first female art director of Harper’s Bazaar magazine, Ruth Ansel left an incredible impact on the industry. Her outside-the-box creative approach reshaped the publication’s visual identity and introduced new, bold aesthetics.
“Being a magazine designer is a little like being an orchestra conductor”Ruth Ansel
Her achievements were possible thanks to the great team she surrounded herself with at the magazine. Ansel’s leadership position allowed her to seamlessly merge art, graphic design, fashion, and photography in the publication’s visuals, challenging traditional norms of fashion magazine design.
In a creative field, good leadership is crucial as it nurtures and guides the innovative spirit. The leader’s role is to foster collaboration and inspiration. Ansel’s advice relates to anyone leading a creative team and likely wearing many different hats. Good creative happens when you’re able to see and guide many moving parts (or team members), all while maintaining the overarching goals or tone of the project.
A successful leader can guide multiple moving parts of a project while keeping the focus on the intended outcome or goal.
Efficient Collaboration Starts from the Top
Maintaining efficient collaboration within a team is crucial for the success of any project or business. The challenges of unhealthy collaboration can lead to project delays, miscommunication, and poor employee retention.
From Ford’s assembly line concept to Wintour’s balance of trust and conviction, there are valuable lessons to learn from these successful leaders and innovators. By incorporating these lessons into your own teams, you can enhance collaboration and drive success for everyone involved.