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Marketers are creative, unconventional and communicative, but are often not geniuses in terms of teamwork and project management. In this respect, the daily routine of a marketing manager is defined by tasks that require structure and collaboration. Developing marketing objectives, launching a product or the organization of an event, for example. Marketing, collaborations and project management simply belong together.

Lego example: In the past, products were manufactured in the hope that the retail market purchased the products, said Christian Korbes, former Vice President Marketing at Lego. Today, Lego’s manufacturing is very close to the purchasing decision.

The marketing staff spend a good 30 percent of their working hours not with marketing communication, but rather sitting down with logistics specialists and sales representatives, interpreting trends and “trying to ensure that in our business, which is extremely reliant on trends, we produce what the consumer needs within four to eight weeks,” said Korbes. An increase in sales can be an important reason for greater collaboration: “At least 50 percent of our success in the last five years is based on collaboration,” stated Korbes.

There are of course other reasons why collaborations are worthwhile.

1. More Creativity and Innovation

Collaboration first requires discipline. It is simply wrong to not combine discipline and creativity. Because: Creativity doesn’t simply flow, rather it is a process that consists of various phases. A team’s creative collaboration in particular must be subject to a process-driven approach. A basic problem in any collaboration is the fact that people think differently. Within a group different ways of thinking collide with each other. So the idea of how to move forward has to be discussed over and over again. This is time-consuming and often frustrating too because one or two people don’t have their voices heard.

However, if you define clear rules and standardize processes, then everyone pulls together and can make full use of their creativity. But beware: Establishing structures and standardizing processes should not be equated with maximum bureaucracy and solutions according to the book. There are many specific examples that show this. Together with the chair in strategic management at HHL (Leipzig Graduate School of Management), the company “die Ideeologen” surveyed the world’s most innovative companies and inquired about their corporate creativity. They identified an excess of formal structures and procedures as being one of the most typical creativity killers. The challenge is not only to design processes, but bring people together who work excellently alongside each other.

Nike example: New ideas and concepts are developed by management in so-called “sandbox meetings”. These are subsequently passed on to a production team consisting of three employees: A designer, an engineer and a marketing expert. This team in turn develops the project’s main features. Industrial, technical and graphical designers then add to the initial concepts.

So for its innovative projects Nike focuses on small teams that think, communicate and act quickly. And this is just one of many examples of how to shape a collaboration. It shows that collaborations require a rethink at all levels. It is important to find a path and structures that suit you well.

team football collaboration

2. More Transfer of Knowledge and Flexibility

Until the first successful projects are completed, many a marketing expert falls at one major stumbling block or another. To overcome these obstacles, besides enthusiasm, you above all need team spirit and good communication. Communication in particular can quickly lead to misunderstandings however. Whether it’s agencies, freelancers or digital nomads: Marketing departments often work with external service providers and increasingly have to communicate with each other across national borders. Due to increasing internationalization the factors for success in project management are changing.

In 2015, the German Association for Project Management (GPM) carried out a study that thoroughly looked into this subject. According to this, the international aspect of a project is characterized by project parameters including multilingualism and the time factor. Bridging the gap between individual team members requires time and coordination efforts because of the time difference. According to the publishers of the study, it is therefore important to prepare international projects in good time and in detail. A strong collaboration is also important as it ensures optimal information transfer and enables a flexible collaboration independent of time, place and end device.

Tools can help with this: Companies often use a combination of Google Hangouts, Slack, traditional e­mails, Trello project management and Dropbox. This is certainly not a model for all cases. As to advance the collaboration and increase efficiency, it can be useful to map several specialized tools in a piece of software. This results in less inefficiency: Emails don’t end up in a spam filter and files are not up-to-date for all project participants. An example of a tool that helps avoid these productivity traps is Marketing Project Management.

3. More Fun

Functioning collaborations allow teams to work more effectively and create a shared sense of achievement. This establishes a bond between you and your company and colleagues. It creates a real sense of togetherness that encourages people to get the maximum out of projects

Google example: The search engine giant attaches great importance to a strong collaboration between employees from different areas of the company. Everyone shares what they have. It’s recognized that a particular capacity for innovation can be derived from a combination of three factors: Discovery (learning), collaboration and fun. Google realizes that the time employees spend in its cafes can be used to strengthen the collaboration. The “management of fun” can cause one or two to go without, but it very much shows that it is an important factor in terms of a company’s appeal, and employee retention and collaboration

Scientific research has already dealt with this subject extensively and proves that the sense of togetherness is much more than a cuddly mentality. The authors of the study published in 2015 “Die neue Wir-Kultur – wie Gemeinschaft zum treibenden Faktor einer künftigen Wirtschaft wird” highlighted the importance of collaboration for companies and identify cooperation and collaboration as key factors for the success of a company. Collaboration is a possible answer to the question of how increasing complexity can be avoided

Good collaborations reduce stress, work also becomes easier during critical phases and it creates more freedom for you and everyone involved. All in all, everyone is a good deal more content and happier. Collaboration is much more than a necessary evil. It is a tool that can be used against frustration, boredom and working in silos

Law professor Jim Tamm very entertainingly tells of collaborations among chickens(!) – and people can learn a lot from this!