"" bshawise: Playing Catch: part two

Friday, January 1, 2010

Playing Catch: part two

A good game of catch has balance. Collaboration is no different.

Sometimes my dad would agree to play catch but his heart wasn't entirely into it. We'd toss it back and forth a few times. He'd notice a few weeds in the mulch, stop playing catch and start pulling weeds. I would wait patiently for him to eradicate said weeds and we'd go back to tossing it a few more times. But eventually he would find more weeds. Those games of catch were not as much fun because the balance of participation was off. I was doing all the "work." The best games were when there was perfect balance and we both were into it. A simple game of catch turned into running routes and pretending every ball I caught won the Rose Bowl and sealed my Heisman bid.

Collaboration on any kind of project requires a balance of engagement. I've been on both sides of an off balance collaboration. Speaking very plainly, it sucks to be the one doing all the work. But it also sucks (in a different way) to be the one not entirely engaged. In The Christmas Show I had to delegate more projects to more people than I ever have. On some of them I struck a good balance. There was a good back and forth in the creative process. On others, however, I simply delegated. I threw someone the ball and immediately bent down to pick weeds.

Projects where the engagement is balanced not only produce the best results, but they also produce the best experience. It's that whole cliche of the adventure being in the journey not the destination. It's a cliche because it's true. I'm able to look back at certain parts of the show and get great joy out of knowing what it took to get there. The meetings and the problem solving and the back and forth collaboration, that's the good stuff. A successful end product will naturally happen when you have balance.

A good game of catch has a balance of critique and celebration. Collaboration is no different.

One of the reasons playing catch with my dad was great was because he was a football coach. He brought a certain level of expertise to our innocent game. He was always coaching me. But what he did well was balancing his critiques and celebrations. He would tell me what I could do better, but he was also very vocal about what he felt like I did great. Striking a balance between the two is beyond crucial. Too much critique is demotivating. Too much celebration distorts reality.

When you're collaborating with people you have to know when to critique and when to celebrate. There is a time and place for both. Your partners need to know what they could do better but they also need to know what they do great. Nothing is more demotivating than receiving more critiques than celebration. Unbalanced critique/celebration is a vicious cycle that typically ends with separation or complete dysfunction. The opposite is true, however when it's balanced. Be open and extravagant with your praise and celebration. That allows you to critique in a motivational way. Striking balance in your collaboration will produce a prolific and energizing partnership. Rose Bowl victories and Heisman Trophies will be yours.

No comments: