Friday, June 3, 2011

What I learned today

I love the people I work with. We operate like a family, and for the most part, we're a pretty functional one. I'm grateful for what I learn every day. Today was a zinger. Here's what I learned:

I define collaboration as co-creation. Sitting side by side, working fluidly, letting go of ownership and boundaries, to make something that couldn't be made with any of us alone. I think it's a better result. It's certainly a better experience.

Feedback and subsequent iteration is not enough (for me). This mode of "meet, then go away and create, then come back and get feedback, then go away and create" is inefficient, and feels rife with opportunities for misunderstanding. And, it makes it hard to get the right feedback at the right moment. To have a removed reviewer, the designer has to explore something to great depth, to realize a concept almost fully.

Unfinished work feels bumpy and uncertain. It can easily inspire fear and doubt in a removed reviewer, and defensiveness or frustration in the creator.

Not everybody wants to, or knows how to, be a co-creator. It takes invitation, shared expectations, and full commitment of trust in each other. We have to give up our attachments, and be open to the unknown discovery, the unpredicted innovation. There's a lot of uncertainty there.

What I haven't learned is how to work with the in-between. How do I figure out where and when to engage the various people who need to have input—because they have a significant stake in the outcome—when their definitions of collaboration fall in so many places along the continuum of co-create to review-and-iterate?

How do you do it? Where do you find your community of practice?

It's hardly poetry. But it's what was on my mind as I close my day and turn to the business of the rest of my living. 

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