A playground for our diverse expertises
How we mix wide-ranging expertise to achieve innovative brand platforms for our clients.
Simon Chénier Gauvreau, VP Creation
A quick search on any agency website will uncover repeated use of the word “collaboration” but little or no mention of how complicated and difficult collaboration truly is. Perhaps this is because most people don’t actually collaborate. Coming from a large group agency, and as VP Creation at TUX, I recognize that there are different approaches to collaboration.
Innovation through synchronous collaboration
What we’re interested in at TUX is synchronous collaboration, where multiple sets of expertise come together to map out a problem and contribute to the early stage of an organic and team-defined process that relies on regular reassessments of strong leads to arrive at a solution. Rather than follow a pre-determined top-down process, we let the challenge influence how the work flows from one set of expertise to another. Our objective is to achieve a result, not merely complete a task.
As Charlène, our Creative Director, Design points out, “This kind of collaboration allows us to find deeper, more meaningful solutions that often feel novel because they connect two foreign ideas or techniques from different sets of expertise. For example, to build a disruptive brand platform for a new digital-native client, one solution may be to systematize the entire brand identity and generate it out of data to create a striking dynamic brand rendered daily by consumer activity on its platform. By allowing art directors to problem-solve synchronously with creative coders and producers from the get-go, we allow for such magic to happen. To put this into perspective, the expected approach would normally involve a graphic designer designing a logo and pass it on to an art director to roll out a brand platform. The output you get with this conventional process is usually far from magical.”
The kicker? I’ve come to realize that collaboration is not natural. That’s probably why in large corporations you usually find low-friction, linear types of collaboration where colleagues focus on their individual tasks, and the work simply gets passed on sequentially like a series of lateral email throws. The resulting work can be good, but I bet you that it won’t surprise anybody. To un-silo expertise, your business needs to recognize the value of synchronous collaboration and commit to cultivating it. To get a diverse group of thinkers and makers to share a process, you need patience and soft skills.
Committed to offering more cross-expertise power.
It’s easy for small studios to offer synchronous collaboration as it happens organically on a small scale (think of a few people regularly working together on projects). But if you have great ambitions for your project, if you want to innovate or disrupt a category, you need the synchronous power of a larger team with multiple sets of expertise. TUX’s independence (read our Proudly Indie article) allows us to go beyond the siloed offering of large traditional agencies and invest in sync collaboration practices. From top management actively involved in monitoring and optimizing our collaboration process to expertise-specific creative directors managing daily mixes of knowledge and experiences to the TUX Kitchen (a unified real-time collaboration tool for sharing process and data across all sets of expertise) to investing in upfront cross-expertise idea rallies called Blitzes for each project, our business is truly invested in maintaining high standards of collaboration and getting the most out of it for our clients.
From experts to juniors, a journey of selflessness.
As humans, we tend to pick the easy route. How many times have I said or heard, “I’ll just do it myself; it’ll be faster”? As VP Creative, one of my roles is to cultivate creative selflessness. When experts from different fields work together within a process, what happens is that senior talents cross over to new expertise with new rules and, as a result, their go-to tools don’t work, and they end up feeling like juniors. This egotistic struggle is often what hinders people’s desire to collaborate. Once you help them recognize this situational posture, they focus their unbiased “junior” perspective on the problem, which they tackle with very different reflexes from those of traditional experts. In my experience, it is by creating connections using synchronous collaboration among diverse experts that you unlock the possibility of innovative work.
There is probably something to be said about the impact this kind of thinking can bring to the world if we opened up more to others and were less individualistic in our pursuits. But that is a subject for another article.