The Collaboration Diary 5

Our first full-day writing session worked out really well. Doug bought me a copy of Eat That Frog! at Euston Station to add to a dozen other volumes he’d brought with as references. I brought along three tomes as rangefinders for format:

  • Alchemy – by Rory Sutherland (which I am mid-way through reading)
  • Unleash Your Creativity – by my friends/collaborators Tim Wright & Rob Bevan
  • Damn Good Advice – by George Lois

They are all examples of books which are written in small units that can be read linearly or dipped into. We quickly found we both had the same kind of book in mind in the wake of Doug’s radical suggestion to take it this way.

We put together an agenda in the classic way. Doug had brought 3 points, I added another 2 (made up on the spot) – all outputs for this session. We achieved all in a 6-hour session.

I drove the process, with Doug willingly coming along for the ride.

First, a couple of key questions I threw out:

  • What have been your best experiences of Collaboration? Why?
  • What have been your worst? Why?

We both listed what came to mind.

We discussed a few high-level ideas – like our core concept (codename DC) – before diving deeper into those questions. We individually drilled down into what characterised those experiences good and bad then shared the results to generate key topics in number.

I then went to the classic questions I learnt from Rudyard Kipling via Pat Mitchell (who Doug & I both worked with at Melrose Film Productions – we toasted him with coffee):

6-honest serving-men rudyard kipling question words questions

From the six core questions we developed six ‘buckets’ – a term borrowed from Tim Wright (the one referenced above) which we used when writing the interactive script of MindGym.

Doug was at Melrose when I made MindGym and he watched the process closely. By coincidence this tweet came in during our session, reminding me of how much positive impact our creative outputs can have:

tweet about MindGym

Into the six buckets we dropped the topics we had generated. We then stepped through the Collaboration process – both when done voluntarily as an individual and ‘enforced’ within an organisation – and chucked those stages into the buckets. Finally we went back to the suggestions about What Makes a Good Collaborator? generated from online circles and added those too, leaving us with a set of topics divided into six main categories and in a roughly sensible order. All painlessly generated with plenty of interesting discussion in the process.

We concluded by deciding to write 5 pieces each initially to test the waters which we are to select from the list. We set a deadline for that, a date for the next day-long session and plotted a path to publication.

An all-round successful first collaborative writing session.

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