Collaboration and Group Working 2

For a collaboration project the size that mine is, there are two ways that it can be done. Either close, meaning working in the same room or building and being in the same room, which can benefit from being able to brain storm and can help with planning and revising. Or far, which is what we are doing – working on our own in separate locations and having to keep regular communication (Hutcheon 2001). I believe that working from a far also has its advantages. Due to the fact that we are not together we wont be tempted to fall into always thinking the same thing. Hutcheon also goes on to talk about how it’s important to maintain a separate identity for the success of working together to create a project. I believe this can be very helpful in that it means we keep our own ideas and we are not initially influenced by anyone else. In my opinion good ideas can come from to separate ideas being merged together, not one idea being molded by two people. Hutcheon goes on to say “Ideal collaborators start to sound a lot like those ideal interdisciplinary individuals defined by Julie Thompson Klein as being characterized by reliability, flexibility, patience, resilience, sensitivity to others, risk- taking, a thick skin, and a preference for diversity and new social roles”. All of these factors are ideal and necessary for a successful collaboration. I would like to explain a little about each one.

Reliability

Without reliability collaboration will not work. Especially in my case having to rely on Darren doing the work without me being around, and vice versa.

Flexibility

As with any work flexibility is a key part. Some of my initial ideas have not been able to work and I have had to be flexible to something that will work, especially in the time frame.

Patience

Needed when working with other people in any capacity. People will not be able to do things as quickly as you think about them. As I have mentioned previously as well you need to plan for more time to be taken than usual, needing more patience as well.

Resilience

Possibly one of the more important traits is resilience. Being able to cope when things are going wrong and staying calm will not only help yourself but also the whole team that you are collaborating with.

Sensitivity to others

As well as having your own ideas it is imperative that you are sensitive to others ideas and feelings. Being sure to hear what people have to say and evaluating appropriately.

Risk taking

With more people working together comes more ideas. It also means more people to clean up if something goes wrong. The idea of coming together is to share ideas so it is always worth taking the risk and running with your idea to see how it fits in the project.

Thick skin

Along with the previous comes a need to be thick skinned, especially if your ideas do not get used or if you do something wrong. As I have also mentioned before, not everyone gets along, but you wont get on with anyone without some thick skin.

Diversity

Working in a group means being open to diversity. Being open to roles changing and possibly having a role you may not fully enjoy will help move a project along.

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Collaboration and Group Working

When I started researching collaborative theory I found it quite hard. As Stahl (2013) says there is no one theory of collaboration. However there are many good points from other theories and studies that will help grow my knowledge of collaboration – Some for general collaboration and some more specific to me.

A few points that are relevant are from Eslbach in the article Creative Collaboration and the Self-Concept (2013). First of all they say “To help generate creative solutions, most large corporations encourage workers to collaborate on projects and to act as ‘good colleagues’ by sharing useful information”. This is essentially the most basic form of collaboration, the sharing of ideas and “useful Information” that can help further a creative project – without this there is no collaboration. Later in the article they talk about how collaboration and creativity link and grows through the sharing of different opinions, approaches and problem solving. This meaning that it is the use of another mind that can help solves problems that you alone cannot solve, this can come from having different backgrounds and experience or simply have a different way of thinking. Another point that they mention is that some people don’t work too well together. Their point is that those that can “add economical value through creativity” can be the hardest types to work with. As mush as collaboration can create amazing things and on the whole can lead to bigger and greater projects, it can also be very hard to do any work at all if collaborating with the wrong people. It is a fact of life that some people do not get on, but that is essential to a successful working collaboration. Finally, another factor that they talk about is the social identity of a group. They state, “The role of social identity in facilitating collaborations is clear. Researchers have found that group identification can mediate the relationship between demographic diversity and collaborative behaviors in a workgroup”.

Top Tips for Collaborating

From the same book, ‘Managing to Collaborate, they list ten top tips for collaborating. The book itself is aimed at  collaborations between large companies and not necessarily small collaborations, like mine, between 2 people. However, it does say that some will be relevant for small collaborations too, and there are 2 points especially that I am baring in mind though this collaboration project.

The first that applies to me, is their number 2 point –

2  Budget a great deal more time for the collaborative activities than you would normally expect to need.

This is a great tip to work by, but also with my situation it has almost become mute due to the fact that I already have a time frame in place due to deadlines. It does raise a good cause for concern though as it has prompted me to make sure that I budget my time effectively, especially due to the fact that Darren will also have other work that he will be doing.

The second that most applies to me, is their number 4 point-

4   Where possible, try to begin by setting yourselves some small, achievable tasks. Build up mutual trust gradually through achieving mutual small wins. If the stakes are high, you may need a more comprehensive trust building approach.

Being in a small collaboration I believe it is very important to set small tasks. I also think it is important to be very clear about how to achieve them and when they should be achieved. Making the tasks we set achievable will keep us motivated and will keep the sense that the project is moving forward which will be very important as there may be a gap in development later on.

Anything Is Possible

The idea of collaboration has always interested me, whether its collaboration in music, digital art, or anything for that matter. In the book ‘Managing to Collaborate’ Huxam and Vangen say –

“The world of collaboration. It is a world in which it is possible to feel inspired. Almost anything is, in principle, possible thorough collaboration because you are not limited by your own resources and expertise. You can, in principle, achieve whatever visions you may have by tapping into resources and expertise of others.

– Huxam and Vangen, 2005

It is always this idea of thinking that has interested me so much. Digital Art should always be an area in which you can dream big and have very high goals for what you want to create and achieve. That is what is so inspiring about Digital Art. In my project I started with big ideas, the only reasons that we had to scale these ideas down was because of the time frame, not because they weren’t possible. My first ideas of holograms, projection mapping, or augmented reality are all real world applications that are very possible. One great reason for choosing this collaboration was that Darren has experience in these areas and i don’t – which is the greatest formula for any collaboration.

Standing Ground and Accepting Ideas

Although it is good to be open to ideas, it is also just as important to stand ground with the ideas that you think are important as long as you can back up why they are important. This can either be with the creative ideas or simply on the methods of working, it is important to be clear and explain why when you are suggesting ideas instead of dictating what is happening. When suggesting ideas the reasoning behind the ideas is as important as the idea itself, it is the reasoning that will bering others to the same thinking. Which is also why it is important to listen to ideas and accept them by listening to reasoning before dismissing ideas.

Another important part of collaboration that fits well with this is that of recognising strengths and weaknesses, in yourself as well as others. It is unlikely that one person is going to be the best at everything, otherwise the point of collaboration is almost lost. The way to get the best out of working as a team is to play to everyones strengths, working in ways that people are comfortable and can excel with produce great works of collaboration. This may not always be possible, so it is good to have a support system in place for those that are feeling a little weaker in the work that they have to do – the greatest advantage of working as a team is being able to share the workload.

What is Needed to Collaborate?

From my own knowledge I have put together a few ideas of what is needed to collaborate. As a musician collaboration has to be a part of my every day working but in terms of creating works of digital art collaboration is relatively new to me. Transferring the ideas that I have from previous knowledge and looking forward to this project the first thing to talk about will be the acceptance and challenge of others ideas. For my project we aren’t starting with a goal in mind, we are coming together with our own ideas to create something that is from both of our ideas. As the person I will be working with has a greater knowledge of technology than I do I will be relying on him to restrain some of my ideas to those that are possible, and then elaborate on the possibilities.

Even though this will be my project, as it is for my module on my degree, I will need to compromise in the ways that the project is realised. Already some of my ideas have proven to be to big and the project has been scaled back to a much more realistic outcome – originally being a full scale projection and now being held and displayed on one computer.

To keep any collaboration project running smoothly there needs to be an amount of delegation. If too many people are trying to do the same thing then problems will arise. Being a small team of only 2 people it is easy to delegate, and having such opposite parts (beat tracking and 3d modelling) it is a clear divide. There are however always parts of collaborations which can get muddled when it comes to delegation, an integral part to a project which may take a lot of work or effort can be split in to easier to manage parts as long as there is good communication within the team.