Collaboration. It can be a beautiful thing. It can also be your worst nightmare with the wrong team players. During my time in the video game industry, and now as a freelancer, I have had plenty of experiences working with other creatives, technical folks, producers and project managers.

The best part of owning Image Propeller and directing all the projects that come my way is that I can (usually) hand-pick the folks I work with – assuming they’re schedule is free and they actually want to work with me too. It’s usually a perfect situation.

Photo of VizPix Studio and Image Propeller Studios

Working with my good friends Mike and Dawn from VizPix Studios. Collaborating with them is always a treat!

Here’s what I’ve learned about collaboration from both my experiences working with larger corporate teams and on my own independent ventures:

Manage Expectations

Before we agree to work with each other, I make every effort to communicate what is expected of everyone. It’s a time to discover what areas of a project interest each person, as well as shelve selfish artist instincts to defer to those who may have the better skillset. Timelines, feasibility, concerns – all important to discuss to help prevent those seeds of resentment that can grow out of slighted feelings.

Don’t be a Jackass

No one wants to work with a Grumpy Gus or Moody Molly. When the crap hits the fan (fyi – it always does!), you must keep it together. I try to maintain a grounded perspective by remembering 2 things: First, the project won’t last forever. Second, if I want to work on future projects with these people, I have to play nice.

If point two is irrelevant because I no longer like the people I’m working with, it’s also important to remind myself that integrity and professionalism are essential to this business. Dig deep and stay cool, even if the relationship isn’t all that great.

Over Communicate

This one is so simple but so easy to forget when mired in our own work and deadlines are looming. Listen to others and let them know where you are at in the project. Working on a common file that someone is waiting for? Send a quick email to let them know when they can expect it to be ready. Gonna be late getting to the meeting? Give someone a call and let them know when they can expect you.

Take Responsibility, and Share the Success

Last week I posted the Creative Mornings talk by Seth Godin called “Backwards” onto our FB Page. Of his several points on how to work with clients, “Reflect Credit and Embrace Blame” stood out the most. It’s a mantra that also applies when working within teams. If something works, share the credit with others, and if it doesn`t, go ahead and own it. In this `bottom up` world, it’s the work we should be after, not the credit.

Collaboration is a creative, exciting aspect of running Image Propeller Studios. To quote Seth Godin one last time: “We are all apart of the connection economy and connection creates value.”

What makes collaboration successful for you?