The power of two
Cultural icons, a selection of hats, and a ball game all here to create your next successful partnership
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Our modern culture is jam-packed with magnificent duos. Whether it’s Rick + Morty, Frodo + Sam, or good ol’ peanut butter + jelly, there’s no denying a great mashup can equal a successful partnership.
It’s not only delicious lore — it’s also my favorite way to work on creative projects. Looking back at a career full of exciting relationships, I see a path illuminated by successful partnerships with many brilliant, collaborative people.
Our creative duo
Partnership defines every single success at Territory; there is no lone genius within our organization. We know teams achieve goals better, faster, and often cheaper than an individual — the benefits of teamwork far outweigh its challenges. Therefore we always partner up to face creative challenges. Our lingo for this is “two in a box.”
We employ teams in a variety of sizes and configurations. But, our most visible duo is the team we deploy to understand, solve, and deliver: Facilitator and Designer. One expert in approach, one expert in possibility. Left and right hands together. The stability of the ground and the infinite possibility of the sky.
It takes more than basic skills to facilitate proper and effective discovery sessions. The best and brightest facilitators are not only organized, engaging, and charismatic, but they’re also subject matter experts in their own right. Our team members boast multiple specialties, such as business strategy, organizational development, performance coaching, and learning and technology systems.
The other key role for discovery is a visual artist with expertise in deciphering layered discussions to visualize the conversations, stories, and decision-making. Our artists are also veteran designers with the business acumen to match. As with everyone here, they boast expertise in multiple areas of focus such as brand communications, experience design, and product design.
Consultant + Designer = knowhow + imagination
The bonds run deep in this dynamic duo. These close connections enable us to help our clients navigate through their challenges to find inspired solutions.
Team up for results
Teams can take many forms, from large to small, but when you break it down to the fundamentals, every team needs at least two willing collaborators. Here are a few common collaboration styles:
Probably the easiest way to partner is to divide the job to be done into tasks that best fit each partner’s skill set. Split up to accomplish your set of tasks, then regroup, assess, and make adjustments. Don’t forget to high-five the job well done.
Sometimes active collaboration is the best path — get together and co-create. Co-creation is working together in real-time to explore ideas, problem-solve, and make decisions together. Practiced co-creators are great at listening, speaking up and voicing their thoughts, and adopting an additive approach. Done well, 1 + 1 can equal 3, or more!
If you can’t afford the time to collaborate in real-time, try taking turns! Choose someone to start. When it’s your turn, assess the condition of the work: if you’re being tagged in, gauge how far your partner got, assess how well you feel they did, then work evolve and improve the existing effort. Work it forward as far as you can before handing it back to your partner.
Try on some hats
Becoming a successful partner requires patience, practice, and understanding your partner’s needs. Here are a few “hats” to try on:
This is probably the most common type of feedback — looking for and articulating possible faults. When wearing the Challenging hat, work hard not to overwhelm the recipient with feedback. Try to provide brief notes, then follow up in writing, making sure to offer suggestions to solve the issues you note.
Wearing the Improving hat is all about adding value. Rather than adjusting or criticizing, adopt the famous “Yes, and …” approach to add new branches to work. My associate, Bill, calls this type of help, leaving the work “10% better.” I’d like to see a lot more of this approach!
Sometimes you need validation that you’re on the right path and words of encouragement to keep going. Therefore, trying on this hat means turning down your critical mind, seeking and noting progress made or the person’s strengths or output.
Ask what type of feedback they’re seeking!
The best way to get the feedback you want is to ask for it. Likewise, when your partner brings their work to you, ask what type of feedback they’re looking for. Otherwise, unwanted feedback can be unintentionally disruptive. Practiced partners check their motivations for context-appropriateness to ensure feedback is genuinely helping to move the work forward.
Who’s your next partner?
Partnerships are beautiful and can produce amazing things beyond the job to be done. Successful partnerships can allow you to accomplish much more than you could have alone. Additionally, they build shared experiences critical for teams and generate learning moments along the way.
Who’s your next partner?