Better collaboration does not mean collaboration meetings

This is the next in a series of one-minute videos that address one of the many complex challenges facing marketing, media and advertising today. The Golden Minute series is an attempt to prove Albert Einstein right when he said “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple”.

But he also said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. So we will leave it for you to judge. Please let us know here if there is a topic you would like us to cover in a Golden Minute.

In a complex world we all know it is important to collaborate. But why do so many people think that to collaborate means organising more meetings? There are already too many meetings. And there is more to collaboration than sitting in meetings.

Back to back meetings

It is almost a daily occurrence that when meeting with a senior marketer they rush into the meeting apologising for being late because the previous meeting was running over. Even if it is mid-morning they are already running late and there is a meeting they need to rush off to because they have back-to-back meetings all day, everyday.

When you ask when they get their ‘work’ done most answer at night or the weekends.

Anton Buchner noticed this happening more and more often and in the middle of last year shared an infographic by Oisín Grogan, The $200 Million Business Coach . With all of the meetings marketers seem to have to attend each day the last thing anyone needs would be more meetings.

But this is often what happens when marketers ask their agencies and their team to collaborate more. So when did collaboration become synonymous with meetings?

More agencies means more meetings

One of the issues is the fact that as marketing has embraced more channels and more consumer touchpoints there has been a corresponding increase in the number of specialist marketing companies / agencies involved in managing these.

While marketers will often wonder why they do not have one agency, instead of the four, five or six they find themselves working with, the fact is even if there was one agency there would still be teams within that agency that would need to be managed.

The point is that with multiple teams working together the communication channels between those teams become complex and therefore to try and control the flow of information people love to set up meetings.

Even working in an agile working environment, many will have their daily stand-up meeting to share information and report progress to all of the teams and stakeholders involved in the project.

Collaboration is different to cooperation and coordination

When you ask your agencies to collaborate, believe it or not there are in some ways several levels of collaboration, each with their own particular demands and outcomes. Often in frustration of having to manage multiple agencies, marketers resort to the demand that the agencies collaborate, but in actual fact you could ask them to co-operate with each other or even just co-ordinate on a project.

Collaboration is difficult to manage between agencies all competing for a larger slice of your marketing-budget pie. Time and again we have seen marketers create a roster or ‘village’ of agencies and then just expect them to collaborate, only to have in-fighting, dysfunction and underperformance.

But there are very specific steps that marketers need to take, beyond demanding it, to create an environment of collaboration, or even co-operation and co-ordination between their agencies.

Technology can help facilitate collaboration if you have time

Increasingly technology platforms are offering collaboration solutions to allow groups of people to work together. These platforms can range from simple group communications tools through to complete workflow solutions, many specifically built for marketing, advertising and media processes.

The promise of the sales people is high, but it still requires a strategy and a management process to ensure this promise is delivered.

One of the key areas we work in is helping our clients to optimise the performance of their technology platforms. Recently we were asked to help a company select a new workflow management system because the existing one was not working and they wanted to replace it after only 3 years.

The issue was not the platform, though it did have some limitations. The issue was that few people were actually using it and instead had developed their own work-around solutions simply because they did not know the platform.

How much are you and your agencies collaborating?

It could be that your agencies are collaborating with each other and the problem is they are simply not collaborating with you and your marketing team? Or it could be there are pockets of collaboration that you simply need to encourage into other areas of the agency roster and marketing.

But how can you measure collaboration? After all if you cannot measure it, how can you possibly manage it?

Since 2007 we have been using an online tool we developed called Evalu8ing. It is a cloud based platform that allows our clients to measure, manage and maximise collaboration, alignment, engagement and performance between teams of people.

These could be teams working inside your organisation or teams of agencies and suppliers your marketing team works with. It allows you to quickly identify where teams are working productively and collaboratively together and where they are not.

If your efforts to increase collaboration lead to more meetings like this, then we have some solutions to increase collaboration, engagement and alignment and ultimately productivity and performance.

Golden Minute Script

Are your collaboration efforts like this?

(Conference call organiser announces to room full of people)

I would just like to thank everyone for making the meeting today.

As you know we have identified that our marketing teams and agencies have not been collaborating as well as we had hoped.

Therefore we have decided to improve collaboration.

To achieve this we have decided to have a weekly collaboration meeting with everyone.

This is the opportunity for everyone to get together.

Each week. And collaborate.

So if everyone is on board, lets start collaborating.

(Everyone is looking bored and uncomfortable)

Or we could do something completely different.

Any ideas? Hello? Any one?

Collaboration is not about more meetings.

It’s about engagement, communication and alignment.

Let us know if you need some new ideas on how to encourage collaboration.

Our Relationship Performance Evaluation service measures collaboration and alignment between marketing team agencies to maximise your collaborative output. Learn more here