January 2017

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January 2017

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director

Another Side of Collaboration

David Grindle Executive Director

David GrindleIf you see something, say something.

In the last 16 years, this statement has become part of our national lexicon for security. But for professionals in our world, this concept isn’t new. In fact, it exists in many industries. In the airline industry, it is called Crew Resource Management. If crew see something wrong, they are to raise the issue and make sure that the concern is noted and addressed.

In the arts we use a different word for this. We say collaboration. I’m well aware that some of you have raised eyebrows or complete disagreement with me, but here’s why I equate the two.

Collaboration relies on all of our willingness to build upon ideas to make a greater whole. But we also collaborate when we check and double check each other throughout the creative process. As a stage manager, I knew that I couldn’t see everything, and that’s why we had a team of stage managers. We could raise issues with one another to make sure the safety and accuracy of the show were being covered.

We see this among designers, technicians, and administration in well-functioning organizations. The ability of people to raise questions and make sure everyone is working towards the same goal shows a team that is confident in its makeup. When people question in this manner, it is not (and cannot be) to prove a greater ability or intellect over others. Instead, it is to note if something seems awry with the process and to be open to receiving the same level of questioning. It is about working as a team with the result being the most important thing.

We strive to implement this philosophy in the operations of USITT. If something seems off, it is better to ask and bring it up than to let it play out to potential catastrophe.

The new year is our time for resolutions. I hope each of us will make a resolution to play a proactive role in “crew resource management” in our world. If you are in leadership, can you implement it? If you are not, can you make it part of your personal world?

Collaboration isn’t just about creativity based on the ideas of one another. Collaboration is about working together to use the strengths of each other to make a greater whole.

That mentality has worked to build many great things in our world. I hope we can all work to embrace it ever more strongly in the coming year.