Times are different. As we’ve moved on from the success of our industrial past, Northeast Ohio is now evolving to re-stake its claim on innovation, and reinvigorate its identity. Foodies love the new restaurants and local neighborhood shops popping up. Entrepreneurs are being supported and considered the new front-runners for lasting impact on economic growth and stability. Higher education, medicine, sports, technology, environment, are all are all working towards a healthier, more vibrant future. Artists are also stepping up to the challenge. Visionaries and pragmatists are working together to make lasting changes to cultivate thriving communities.
It’s not easy. Collaboration takes initiative, clear communication, planning and a menu of complimentary skill sets in order to succeed. The groundwork for collaboration can be structured in a number of ways.
Know what’s out there
Find people who are as passionate as you are about the work you’re doing. Many investors will look to finance great managers with only a mediocre idea before they would invest in a phenomenal idea backed by poor leadership. Remember to choose your partners wisely.
If you are collaborating with a group of artists, find out who else is out there and what they are doing. Do some online research on keywords related to your project. Use both broad and narrow terms and phrases. Look for existing partnerships. Find out who cares about the same issue or is moving in the same direction as you. You may find collaborators in the most unlikely places.
These searches will also help identify your competition and potential strategic alliances. Duplicating efforts is an ineffective use of time and adds confusion for your audiences. Clearly define what sets you apart from these other initiatives. By the same token, these searches will help you understand how unique your collaboration is. Brainstorm different ways to leverage that individuality.
If you’re uncertain about approaching a new contact to propose a partnership, read a little more about getting acquainted.
It is important to start out on the right foot with any collaboration. One of the best ways to do this is to determine if you and your potential partner are on same page. Make sure you both agree on what you are setting out to do and why. Agree on a set of goals and outline the steps you will take to get there, both as a group and individually. Clearly delineate responsibilities and a general timeline:
- Be upfront about what each player can take on considering what everyone’s workload and overall capacity might be.
- Be open when discussing what each person wants and doesn’t want to take on. Chances are a partner might enjoy a task that you would tend to put off.
- Draft a general timeline and include extra time for any unforeseen obstacles.
- Agree on future takeaways; if one person has a larger role or puts forth more resources, discuss any potential compensation or benefits they may receive in doing so.
- Write down the mutually agreed upon tasks and responsibilities so you’re both clear on who is doing what and when.
Keep your momentum going. Set up meetings over coffee to discuss your plans and the progress you’ve made. Talk about problems you’ve encountered and how you can leverage the partnership to solve them. Continually work to clarify any misunderstandings and keep communication open. If you plan to bring in a new voice, person, idea, etc., be straight with your partners. They will appreciate your candor and your partnership(s) will be more successful for it.
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