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How to Work Collaboratively

If it’s true that assumption is the parent of all f**kups, then it’s equally true that genuine and effective collaboration delivers successful and happy creative partnerships. Mostly. And that’s something I’ve learned - sometimes the hard way - during my 50 years in this business. How do you achieve it? 1. Listen, really listen. And then hear what is actually being said. Don’t assume you know. A case in point for me was receiving New Zealand funding for a project with the late New Zealand/Australian satirist John Clarke. I didn’t hear what the co-funders were saying and assumed that his presence would be enough for NZ. It wasn’t and we ended up having to shoot extra (and un-budgeted) scenes there to up the New Zealand content. 2. Respect and learn about different cultural protocols. When I was the newly minted Head of Production and Development at SBS, I was staggered to hear First Australians had so far taken six years to deliver. Then I learned of the intricate consultation processes in telling this story and we worked out a realistic schedule to get the series to air that respected that process, while meeting the needs of SBS. 3. Come to the realisation that "your way or the highway” sometimes (perhaps even often!) isn’t the only way or even the best way. I’m firmly of the mind that the best television series (for example) come from the brains and skills of many. Just because you are “the boss” or “the creator” or “the director” doesn’t mean you have the right to override everybody else’s ideas and input. Many years ago, we created a series called Attitude on ABC and bravely brought on a novice team largely new to television and we gave them the space to create something different. The results were genuinely innovative and mind-blowing. Creativity is all around you and in the most unlikely people! Harness it, collaborate with it and you’ll be a winner.


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