This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration BradHallArt.com


Encouraging collaboration

One of my favorite movie lines is in answer to, "Do you need any help?" It was "Oh, all that I can get!" And that's at the core of encouraging collaboration.

No, it's not about making other people do your work for you, it's about encouraging other people to help right along with you. Collaboration is not just standing around pointing fingers, it's getting involved with other people, encouraging their support, and making them part of your team.

When I first started teaching, I needed all the help I could get (I still do!) and that included my students. But I found that people were reluctant to help. They feared being insulted, or sometimes they imagined that it would be taken as a criticism, and we all know how most people feel about being criticized! Defensive! Remember your teachers who asked you to hold all of your questions and comments until after the lecture? They were telling you to shut up.

So, while most of the time I am lecturing, if I find a kindred spirit out there who is willing to collaborate, I encourage it. The software classes that I taught at The Art Institute and Glendale Community College always had people in them who knew about some new function or something. And I would let them speak. Sometimes I would let them get up in front of the class or take over the monitor.

If you want to encourage collaboration, get that chip off of your shoulder. And if you are standing up there with a top hat, remember that you are just encouraging snowballs to be thrown at you! Also remember that just saying, "comments and corrections are encouraged" is not enough. Just about everyone says that, and they don't really mean it. If you become defensive, even just a bit, you have shot yourself in the foot. I cheer people who provide useful feedback. It makes me smile just to think of it. Thank you! I really mean that! That is great to know!

On the web, it is often called "engagement". But "Facebook thinking" engagement isn't really collaboration. Having someone tell you "Great! Wonderful! Highly original!" is really the same as someone saying, "I just don't like it". Pretty useless. But real collaboration is out there, believe me. It's as easy as treating people with respect.