Monthly Column By Claire Menzies
Everyone in business likes to think they’re good at collaborating – taking as easily as giving and letting the best idea win out. But the truth is that collaboration can sometimes be a painful process, especially for creatives, for whom the line between having a voice and having the principal voice can be very thin indeed!
In the businesses I’ve helped build, I’ve come to value the quieter technical and process-driven collaborators alongside the visionary, narrative-led originals. I’ve also learnt that collaboration works best when there’s a clear understanding of the business case, as well as an attitude of genuine openness about what can be learnt.
Of course, there’s great PR and marketing value to be had by associating with a more glamorous, established name. Look at the success of the YOO real estate business or, closer to home, the value of a signature designer of the calibre of Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid or Patricia Urquiola. No doubt a major investment too, so the financial case really has to stack up.
The second consideration is ensuring equal excellence. You can’t be an expert in everything and the widening of your creative lens by observing the processes of others can be massively beneficial, once egos are put to one side. In the Bristol region, where we’re based, we work happily with a number of great creative partners such as Reynolds Collcutt Furniture and Spicerack, as well as collaborating with the region’s more famous names, including Aardman Animations and photographer Martin Parr.
The biggest aspect of making collaboration work is selecting people who share your values, whether your business leads with quality, price, sustainability or leading-edge concepts. We love the story of designer and sustainability champion Ella Doran’s new collaboration with environmental campaigner Sophie Thomas, using Sophie’s waste plastic collection, gathered from Spanish beaches, and then photographed and designed by Ella to create the beautiful ‘Ocean Clean-Up Camo’ fabric (see image), which looks like an Italian mosaic until you look closer, clock the name and hear the back-story.
So, get the business case right, seek equal excellence and shared values – and stay humble.
Great collaborations really can be greater than the sum of their parts.
Claire Menzies, Chairwoman, Istoria Group