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Collaboration vs. Committee

I was struck last week by the consistent boost any idea seems to get through collaboration between my Marketing Director, my editor and myself. While the ideas we have individually are good, when we work as a team and collaborate, the results always seem to exceed our individual contributions.

Bear in mind we all work at a theatre, and theatre as a process depends on collaboration. We’re used to it around here, and of course this bleeds into how we operate as a media/marketing team. Also, as a writer, I’ve become quite a fan of collaboration over the years. It seems to elevate any idea and energize the creative process.

It is also widely known and accepted that nothing kills an idea more efficiently than a committee. Finding consensus on a creative idea or process seems the surest way to whitewash it into a bland, beige blob of nothing.  Committee kills.

So what’s the difference between committee and collaboration? They seem so similar, yet the results of these processes are polar opposites.

Collaborators imagine forward. Committees assess and react after the fact.

Successful collaborators have learned to let go. Let go of pride, let go of possession and credit, even let go of their idea if a better one comes along.

Successful collaborators are unified in their goal. They are not beholden to a constituency or an outside department. They are only there for the success of the project, and know that success is the very thing that will benefit all parties.

By instilling collaborative values into the committee culture, creativity not only survives, but thrives. A committee succeeds when it functions as a collaboration.

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