CEO Blog

Passion vs. Collaboration

Published on October 8, 2018 Back to the trenches
Couple Arguing Passionately

One of the things I love most about Small Army is the incredible passion the entire team has for doing great work. From messaging strategies and media plans to website architecture and creative storytelling, each individual puts their heart and soul into their work. I’m fortunate to work with such amazing people who care so much about what they do. However, as much as I love and appreciate passion, I have found it to be one of the most challenging things to manage. 

Success at an ad agency depends upon our ability to collaborate with one another – within departments, within the agency and with clients and partners. The greatest results happen when we work together to see alternative perspectives, improve upon our ideas/approaches, and share ownership in the work. But passion can often get in the way of this type collaboration. 

So, today I share some some tips on how to balance passion with collaboration, and have them work in harmony with one another.

1. Be open – We all love our own ideas (I’m as guilty as anyone else for this). But, we must be open to criticism in order to make them better – and recognize/accept when other ideas may be even stronger.

2. Share ownership – “Your” idea will have much more power behind it when others help shape it and add to it. When it becomes “our” idea, everyone involved will put their heart into making it great and bringing it to life. 

3. Stay positive – Throughout the collaboration process, many decisions often need to get made. Sometimes, they don’t go your way. Rather than getting frustrated (ie., shut down, complain, or throw in the towel), trust that the decision was made for the right reasons by people who are as passionate about success as you are – and stay with it. A positive attitude is a requirement for great work.

4. Listen, and let others know you heard them – Whether you agree with someone else’s perspective or not, acknowledge that their perspective was heard and discuss its merits. Sometimes a nugget of inspiration lies just beneath the surface. And, even if nothing comes from it, the other person(s) will know that their idea was considered. (There’s nothing more painful than feeling like no one listened to you).

5. Learn – One of the greatest benefits of collaboration is learning – new approaches, new perspectives, new situations/challenges and new mistakes (yes, you can learn from them). Relish every experience (it also helps with the positive attitude), and the next one will be even better.

This all sounds easy on paper (or in this case, on screen), but the reality is that each of these items can be extremely challenging to put into practice – especially for passionate people. I’d be lying to say that I am perfect in any of these. But the more we work on them, the better we (and the work we create together) will get. 

At our quarterly agency town hall this Tuesday afternoon, we’ll be conducting a brainstorm session to identify other potential ways to improve collaboration in our passionate environment. I’ll be sure to report back on ideas that come from that session. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them by commenting on this post.

As always, thanks for reading. And, feel free to pass this along to anyone else you believe may find it of interest.