The Art of Collaboration

Throughout my career as a copywriter, my role has become less about the act of writing itself, although I do plenty of it, and more about collaborating as a team. While the problems I get to solve involve writing, the solutions themselves involve a lot of collaboration.

Collaboration and communication are buzzwords in many job descriptions. Every company says they want someone who can do these things, but I’m pretty sure that if you put a group together in a room and tell them to collaborate on a project, the natural instinct is for each person to stay in their own lane, whether it’s copy, design, UX, etc. Sure, these areas depend on each other and all of these roles are essential, so why do we act as though our part is the only one that matters?

But First, Strategy

Before gathering a group to talk about whatever solution they’re trying to formulate, it’s important that everyone is on board with the strategy, which should be the North Star that everyone navigates the project by. Without it, you’re doomed.

To clarify, here is what I mean by strategy:

  • A shared understanding of the problem, need, or opportunity that you’re trying to solve for
  • A shared approach for how you’re going to solve the problem
  • A detailed plan as to how you’re actually going to execute on the solution

To get to a shared strategy, you need to talk through the brief and the research and work it out together. Once you land on your strategy, put it in plain sight and refer back to it as needed. Tack it up on a wall, if you have to.

Know How Your Team Works

Some of my favorite companies have a common understanding about how they work as a group. Having a set of guiding principles helps set the tone for collaboration and, ultimately, builds a strong team.

Here are a few ideas to get you started – go with what is meaningful for your team:

  • Everyone is creative.
  • Your work is as important as mine. We’re all equal.
  • Expect the unexpected. Be flexible.
  • We never leave a question unasked and we never assume what the answer will be.
  • If someone’s asking questions about our work or critiquing it, we’re open to what they say.
  • We eat together on Tuesdays and talk about anything but the project.
  • On Wednesdays, we wear pink. (well, why not??)

Again, to come up with your principles, you need to get everyone in a room. Ask people to write down ideas about what they’d like to see in the future. What does successful collaboration look like and feel like to them? From there, work backwards — what are the things that need to happen to get to that ideal state? What barriers or bad habits do you need to break? What new ones do you need to build?

Now that your team has a solid understanding of the strategy and a plan for how they will work together, it’s go time. Next week, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

In the meantime, want to talk about copywriting, content, branding, or advertising? Hit me up!

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