How did an initiative that attracted donations and in-kind pledges of up to $250,000 within hours of being launched, end with TEDx issuing an apology and promising to rethink the whole concept?
I attended TEDx in Sydney last month. TED is a format that often focuses on the achievements of inspiring individuals, but for weeks afterwards, one idea that stood out for me was the importance of collaboration.
A disability awareness campaign, originally called Stella’s Challenge, was launched at TEDx Sydney to a receptive and engaged community. Donations and in-kind pledges flowed in immediately from businesses keen to be involved.
However, within days the campaign faced significant backlash for not being developed with enough input from those it was seeking to help: disabled people themselves.
There is a maxim in the disability community that highlights the importance of having your key audiences, participants and stakeholders at the table when designing for them – “nothing about us without us!”
Lack of collaboration and consultation can undermine the best of intentions. It holds some project teams back from ever reaching their full potential. So why isn’t it done more often?
For some people, collaborating raises concerns about becoming talk-fests. For others, the potential of not having their effort recognised makes collaboration feel like lots of hard work for no reward. This doesn’t have to be the case.
Processes and documentation ensure collaborative projects don’t get bogged down in talk. After consultation and exploring possibilities collaboratively, a Project Roadmap sets a clear direction for the project that all stakeholders approve. Project leaders then drive the project through the agreed Roadmap.
As for recognition, that comes down to leadership. True collaboration is about checking your ego, trusting your collaborators and being open to new possibilities. It’s about openly recoginsing the contributions of your team, and creating a culture where self-promotion isn’t required in order to be acknowledged.
The project may not turn out exactly as you envisaged it – that’s the point!
Take a look at our case studies to see what you can achieve working ‘with’ clients, not simply ‘for’ them.