In trying to distill the essentials of what makes a successful project/campaign/partnership, I feel that good practice might include some reflection on the degree to which a piece of work can be said to be a true measure of collaboration and exchange… between the client and the agency, that is. A collaboration that fosters a real exchange of ideas and aspirations for everyone involved, rather than an encounter marked by power imbalances, distrust or poor communication.
“Fair Exchange: Power in Partnerships,” an informative post from the insights agency Added Value, speaks directly to the power of sharing between client and agency. The author – business director Erna George – truly drives that point home when she says that “an agency that is only allowed to dip in and out of the client’s world never gets to contribute strategically or tactically, because it doesn’t know the client’s business well enough (nor the client its).”
In our experience, real collaboration is important in the pursuit of the optimal strategy. To realize the Break Dengue Alliance, for instance, a high level of collaboration is (has been) crucial. We continue to discuss with Sanofi Pasteur and other stakeholders about the key next steps. It is very much a dialogue and it is because of this freedom of exchange and trust that Break Dengue is headed in the right direction.
But, true collaboration is not always easy. It is very much a process of give and take (particularly when you are really immersing yourself in the project); and it can take some time to perfect. I know from experience that there can be bumps along the road, especially in the beginning. But once capabilities, value and mutual respect are established, it’s fulfilling to see everyone come to the realization that there’s no us and them.