Tools for Productive Partnerships Among Creatives, Changemakers, and Funders
Congratulations! You’ve taken the time to connect with your partners about a shared MISSION (or at least the previous section sparked some ideas and questions). Now that you’ve articulated the respective values that are shaping your collaboration, it’s time to plan.
Naturally, you have an image in mind of what you want to do together and why. Perhaps you’re an advocate partnering with creatives on a livestream global event, or a creative whose carefully rendered stories will fuel a campaign to prevent sexual harassment. In any case, you can imagine outstanding outcomes from the infusion of purpose and storytelling. You may have personally witnessed or participated in collaborations that connected people to profound experiences, to each other, and possibly even shared solutions.
If you look up the definition of METHOD, words like “structure” and “orderly” might jump out at you; but please don’t think of METHOD as a creativity killer! Rather, think about paving a path so that artistry and strategy can co-exist. METHOD includes how will you work together, how will you define your respective roles, how will decisions be made, and one of Active Voice Lab’s favorites: how you will know if you’re still in sync with the MISSION you’ve clarified?
Photo credit: Rada Film Group
Generally speaking, the further along a story is, the simpler the METHOD conversation is likely to be. For example, a filmmaker with a completed documentary will likely want to work closely with various partners to match their expectations and develop their plan for impact. But the creatives behind projects still in production — not to mention still in development — will want to take the time necessary to focus on the “how.” What METHOD(s) will work for you through a creative and strategic process?
Don’t assume that everyone shares the same understandings about responsibilities, roles, decision-making, etc. For example, if someone is taking the lead in initiating the partnership, that individual or team should be ready to articulate who they expect will do what during the collaboration. They will also want to keep in mind that building a team is not as straightforward as assembling a car. Smart leaders cultivate trust, recognize talent, seize opportunities as they come along, and pay attention to the well-being of every participant. Even collective projects — wherein leadership is shared and hierarchies are relatively flat — should spend time to clarify who’s doing what. Even relatively practical items like “Who on your team needs to sign off on the plan, and how long might it take?” could make a big difference down the road.
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