What My Weird Dream Tells You About Collaboration

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Are you an active dreamer? I am.

I rarely have nightmares. Most of my dreams are just busy, and I forget them when I wake. Lots of them are so obviously fraught with symbolism or themes that I wake up thinking “What the #@%&!! was THAT about?” But this dream — weird as it was — told me a lot about working in collaboration with others, something I do on a regular basis.

The Dream Scenario

So here’s the dream, as much as I can remember. The fact that I wrote details down tells you I knew right away it was something to share.

I was working with a media company on a big video project. The media company was subcontracted by a large marketing/advertising agency. The media company brought me in as an assistant producer and scriptwriter.

The video producer and I were sitting together on a very old wooden teacher’s desk, waiting for the people from the agency to arrive for a meeting. (OK, first of all — the producer and I would never sit together like that. I’m going to interpret that we felt familiar and comfortable with each other. We’re very professional. Don’t over-analyze the desk, etc.) The team from the agency came in, all suited up and corporate-looking. They were from The Big City.

The agency team laid out the project and my part was to come up with a draft and outline of the script. I did the work, and sent it to them.

Next scene: The team comes back (new location) and says they have nothing from the producer — where’s that script & outline?! They’re going to be doing the shoot. But no one followed up with me about the script I sent. I heard nothing. I’d tried contacting them — no response.

Oh, the team says. Er, yeah — they DID have the script/outline… No one noticed it had arrived at their offices. (Much dream-like strange chaos ensues, as we are suddenly transported to a seaside location where the shoot will take place. There may have been a circus involved in the chaos.)

The agency says — We want you to be IN the shoot. We need ziskghepakfu!  >>> [Weird dream-language that makes no sense, but in the dream you know what they're saying.]

OK, I say — but I must have my lipstick on! I don’t have it with me, I’ll need to go get it. It’s in a cabana (??) a few feet away. [ I head off for a dream-second.]

When I get back after the dream-second — everyone is gone from the location. It’s completely empty. They’ve decided to move and use another place. But I have no idea about the decision, or where they chose to go.They’ll be wondering why I’m not there, even though no one thought to tell me about it.

[Dream ends.]

Obvious lessons

They’re such obvious and simple messages/lessons in the dream:

  • Follow Up. The agency didn’t didn’t follow up with me on the work. They didn’t respond to my messages on whether they had received and approved the script.
  • Pay Attention. Maybe the agency’s team was focused on the client, and that’s fine. But they didn’t pay attention to the media company and production details. When you work remotely from your contractor/vendors, you need to pay attention to things like schedules, emails, voice mails, Direct Messages on Twitter. Someone has to stay on top of these.
  • Communicate. The communication was a problem throughout the project. They needed something from me in the shoot, but didn’t communicate a change of plan or location. An important piece of information.

You can’t collaborate without these basics.

It seems so simple, too simple, like everyone should know this — but in fact, they are common problems in every day business.

We’ll never know if the agency got the video done or went spinning off to sea aboard a circus ship. I just know I never want to work with them again.

Sometimes you have to check on the simple things to have success in the complex stuff of work. Without the basics, nothing really works — or it takes three times as long. Every collaboration only succeeds if each member remembers that.

You don’t want to end up with a nightmare on your hands.

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2 Responses to “What My Weird Dream Tells You About Collaboration”

  1. Andy HayesApril 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    One of the first blog posts about a dream that I actually enjoyed. :)

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