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Collaboration- What We Can Learn From Michael Jackson

June 27, 2009

Last week was a bad week. 

First, a beloved icon (and Angel) Farrah Fawcett passed.  I was still reeling from the thought of the world losing one of my favorite 70’s stars when it was announced that Michael Jackson had passed too.  I was born in 1970 so I am someone who watched every episode of Charlie’s Angels.  Twice. Three times.  I also vividly remember my parents getting cable for us when I was 13.  Of course, my favorite channel was Mtv.  I specifically remember the day I saw the premiere of the Thriller video.  It was life changing. 

I had loved watching Michael since he performed as a child with the Jackson 5.  I watched the Jackson 5 cartoon.  I loved every song and video from the Thriller album.   As I grew older I began to appreciate the business savvy he possessed.  Although it seems that as he aged, Michael made some decisions that put negative spotlight on him, one thing he did stands out to me as a great lesson. 

Michael….King of Pop….possibly the greatest entertainer of all time….often collaborated with other great performers.  He lived the philosophy that often when great minds get together, the end result is better than if each person had worked alone.  One great example was his collaboration with Paul McCartney on “The Girl Is Mine” and  “Say, Say, Say”.  The first song went to #2 on the Billboard charts and the second went to #1.  Michael also showed that he could collaborate with multiple artists for the good of a people when he wrote the song “We Are the World”.  The money raised my Michael and 45 other artists benefitted USA for Africa.    

I read a recent post by Ben Eubanks of UpStart HR that touched on why it’s beneficial to collaborate.  Ben said, “Now I realize that giving away ideas has multiple benefits. It helps you to see new answers for your own issues, it helps someone else solve a problem, and it builds goodwill between you and the recipient.”  To expand on Ben’s idea, I think that by collaborating with other professionals, you are strengthening your brand and enhancing your creativity.  I don’t look at it as giving away my ideas, but contributing my ideas to something larger than I might create alone.  And, if the project is a success, it builds credibility for each person involved in the process.

What should you consider when collaborating?  Here are a few points to consider:

  • Find a partner with the expertise you’re looking for
  • Determine the role each person is expected to play
  • Establish ground rules and expectations
  • Build a timeline for the project
  • Legal considerations should be discussed if the scope of the project warrants it

So, do you have an idea you have been sitting on but not acting on?  Why not reach out to a fellow professional, HR or otherwise, and see what two or more brains can come up with.  If you do, let me know so we can link the ideas here.

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