Collaboration at its finest

At the BizDojo, we see collaboration as a metric of community health. But how do we determine what is more or less collaborative? Is it the number of people involved? Is it the amount of time each member contributes? Is it how many different skillsets are at play? We can measure the number of projects that come about that involve multiple Dojo residents, but true collaboration is when an outcome is a unique product of their work together. Not advising, not contracting, but devising… together. 

Some cool projects have unfolded here during my ten months at BizDojo Auckland, but the most collaborative project I’ve seen to date has just gone live. This is a story about that project.

There once was a programmer named Erik (well…he still exists), who work mostly in the realm of Adobe products. A revelation was had one day when he realised how frustrating it was to read PDF format files on a mobile phone. The whole “pinch to zoom” thing just didn’t work well anymore. (Way too 2009!) So Erik set out to do something about it, and change the experience of countless mobile phone users around the globe.

His fingers hit the keyboard and piece by piece, a new software was being constructed. The next question was how to tell the story of his software with maximum effect? Along came a longstanding resident of the Dojo, Dylan Du Plessis of Luc Identity. (Dylan and his team specialise in digital and graphic design, as well as branding.) Some basic ideas were thrown around before they reached out to Han Law of Pixel Push. Han and his team specialise in digital and 3D animation, but decided to try something new and use stop-motion video for Erik’s new project. 

Countless hours of workshopping began. Props were built. Lights were installed. Cameras were set up. Days turned into nights and again into days, and weekends disappeared. (It’s actually quite amazing to see how many hours go into a 30 second video!) As production neared an end, watching and rewatching, the team realised there was a missing element: narration. 

Quickly pivoting away from overlaid text, the team brainstormed what kind voice would help tell the tale in the most digestible, accessible and international way. They landed on “American”… conveniently the native tongue of this author. The 18 years in New Zealand have softened my accent enough to give it a feeling that was international without being inaccessible. 

Han tapped my shoulder one Friday afternoon while I was already two beers in, and asked what I thought about reading a script they wrote. Already feeling liquid courage, I grabbed the laptop, played a Jack Johnson song, and read the script. The team loved it. The following week, with a little bit of my input, I found myself in a studio recording the voiceover. A few more edits later, and FlexPaper was born. 

Ultimately, this was organic collaboration at its best. Nine people spread over four separate entities came together to create a unique idea far from its initial iteration, all of whom were within Erik’s reach because of the BizDojo community. If that’s our measure of health, we’re doing pretty well. 

Gilaad Amir is the Community and Community Coordinator of the BizDojo Auckland