On Collaboration

“I am a screenwriter, which is half a filmmaker…. But it is not an art form, because screenplays are not works of art. They are invitations to others to collaborate on a work of art.” – Paul Schrader

I grew up in the film industry where one’s success, even survival, depends in large part on your ability to behave collaboratively. The process of making a film can involve literally hundreds of people – each practicing their own craft to contribute their bit to the larger whole. Artists in many fields climb this mountain this everyday. Writers and illustrators, logo designers, photographers and art directors, composers and musicians – all have to display an openness to one another’s ideas and a willingness to compromise.

In many ways the process of starting a business should be comparable. Ross and I have worked hard to find ways in which we can comfortably and effectively collaborate, the end goal to build a better crowdSPRING. We very consciously ask for and listen to input from the entire team. We make an effort to involve everyone here in all aspects of the company (anyone else out there ask for their software developer’s opinions on the design of the new office space?).

It isn’t always easy. We have different approaches to processes and people, and different perspectives on what is “good.” Ross and I often write together – everything from blog posts, to our business plan, to letters to our investors. One of us will complete a draft of a document and send it along to the other. We will take turns sending red-lined versions back and forth, each successive version showing less red ink. We joke about reducing the document view to 40% to see how bad the “bloodbath” is. Our process can be difficult sometimes, but we both recognize that it is the final product that counts and that the work is improved by using two sets of eyes, two perspectives, and two voices together.

We approach our business in much the same way – a back and forth process of idea generation, iteration, and (hopefully) productivity.