Teams that Trailblaze – 5 Tips for Creating Collaborative Success

Posted by Conni Todd on Thu, Feb 28, 2019

 What happens at the intersection of diversity of thought and function when the collaborators see themselves as equally unique and focused on a shared goal? Magic.

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For a musical, those functions would be director, writer/actor, choreographer, and musical director. And the magic is the Broadway show Hamilton, co-created over the course of seven years from idea to launch.

The show has achieved box office success and collaborators Thomas Kail (director), Lin-Manuel Miranda (writer/actor), Andy Blankenbuehler (choreographer), and Alex Lacamoire (music director) have garnered critical acclaim with awards including a GRAMMY, an Obie, a Pulitzer Prize, and multiple Tony Awards.

Fresh thinking is a key benefit of collaboration among peers who give each other the space and encouragement to push the edge of an idea. In 2018, a new award was established by the Kennedy Center Honors to recognize the Hamilton quartet as “trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category.”

In an interview on CBS This Morning, Director Thomas Kail says “Collaboration is when your contribution is recognized and heard. The word ‘maybe’ opens the door to possibilities.” He goes on to say, “Possibility doesn’t exist if you already have an idea locked into your mind as to what it is supposed to be.”

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Using the example of a Venn diagram, Kail explains the strength of their collaboration. The diagram’s center is the intersection of how they approach and see the work. Stepping back a bit, you notice the overall shape is bigger and broader because of the unique expertise and experiences they each bring to the project. Everyone’s point of view matters and the outlying areas are where they each see things the others never could. 

Kail claims their successful Hamilton collaboration is proof “you can make excellent things with harmony. The stakes can be high, but the temperature of the room can stay low.”

Consider these five tips for creating collaborative magic on your team:

  • Peer-to-Peer appreciation: Acknowledge and recognize the distinct functional or experiential talent each team member brings — try naming who does what really well
  • Openness: Be willing to hear an alternative view of what is possible, even if you first invented the idea everyone is now reshaping
  • Maybe: Open the door to fresh perspectives with an attitude of “maybe” and encourage rewrites, edits, and revised thinking
  • Sharing as you go: Pilot ideas with various audiences and/or stakeholders to force deadlines and maintain extreme focus to keep the magic flowing
  • Take the rules out of it: Expand possibilities when limitations or categories are removed —Hamilton didn’t start as a Broadway show, but as a series of songs in random order held together by the main character’s story

Looking for ways to expand thinking and enjoy the energy of magical collaboration? Embrace these tips to fuel the flame of your own trailblazing team. Then let us know how it goes!

Let’s discuss how Clearwater Consulting can collaborate with key leaders and stakeholders in your organization to co-create training, engagement, and alignment programs. Contact us here or call (404) 634-4332 to schedule a conversation.

Topics: collaborative, teams

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