Mightybytes recently hosted a collaborative event with Manifest Digital, an agency across town. Here’s how we turned a seemingly competitive environment into a collaborative one.
Last Friday, while Kris and Tim were on their way to Detroit to brew with Motor City Brewing Works, the team at Mightybytes hosted a collaborative brew session with our friends at Manifest Digital. Manifest is an interactive agency here in Chicago that engages in some of the same kind of work we do: web design, branding, marketing, etc. While you could argue that they’re our competitors, we run into the Manifest folks regularly at events and conferences and found that we had a lot in common, so we thought it might be interesting to invite them to our offices for an informal knowledge exchange. We figured that, as professionals with varying backgrounds and expertise in the digital space, we all probably have something to teach or share that will enrich the work we’re all doing for our clients.
Of course the first thing we wanted to teach Manifest: how to brew beer. So the session kicked off with a demonstration from Whit on how to start the process. We were making 10 gallons of a brew called Javamochapostapocalypse, a mocha espresso stout modeled off last year’s Javamochapocalypse recipe, that we plan to distribute to our friends and clients over the holiday season.
While the brewing was happening, folks from each crew shared some presentations in between trips to the kegerator. Mightybytes project manager Julian shared his presentation on sustainable web design, and Manifest folks shared some of their recent presentations on Hacktucky, responsive web design, and how the culture of the Burning Man festival can inform agency work.
Our collaborative session was a great way to meet other people in our industry, exchange ideas, sharpen our skills, and spend a little work time hearing outside perspectives on the work we do. (And we got to hang out and brew beer in the process!)
This type of collaborative learning session is something we’d recommend for folks in any industry.
If you’re interested in organizing a similar collaboration, we thought we’d share our thoughts on how to best make it work.
5 Tips For Hosting a Creative Collaboration
- Meet with people within your industry or outside your industry. Embrace the idea that even people with different backgrounds can cross-pollinate each other’s work. Or that you can meet up with your competitors to exchange general knowledge without stepping on each other’s toes or revealing trade secrets.
- Organize an activity that will run through the entire event. This helps everything feel more cohesive. We chose beer brewing. (View this presentation for more on the thought process behind using beer brewing as a tool for strategic engagement.)
- Ask a couple people on each team to speak about something in their area of expertise, or about their learnings from a recent experience. You can totally recycle content from presentations you’ve given at other events.
- Keep it informal. While you want to organize activities and speakers, you want the overall vibe to feel laid-back so people have a chance to talk to each other in a casual environment.
- Take turns hosting. We’re looking forward to heading to Manifest’s offices in January for a follow-up session!