Collaborating with People Is The Job

A Director’s/Lead’s Job Is to Build Consensus

If you take a large group of creative people and get them to approach a problem together, they will at first mostly suck at it. This is true for a number of reasons, but highest among them is that human beings are opinionated, anxiety-driven, ego machines who all have their own unique perspective and ideas.

Consensus by Using Authority

Sometimes, high level directors or producers have to just call the shot. This is worth discussing first because it’s a technique frequently relied upon. The Creative Director is actually expected to do this from time to time, and just say “We are going with option A” , indicating that a choice has been made. By virtue of the high ranking teammate’s authority, most of us as employees will get in line and now we have consensus. It’s not the prettiest, but it works. Also: it’s fast.

Consensus by Group: Free For All

Building group consensus is “good” in that the team will likely make better choices, and trust inside the team is certainly better when the group collaborates to make choices about the game.

Consensus by Group: Process

Dancing is a wild, personal act of expression. Some people are meticulous and follow precise steps, others flail happily without a plan. Conversation and building agreement are similar: if you want to get a group of people to get aligned, get them to practice dancing to the same drum beat.

  • What do we want to decide?
  • What information do we need to make this decision?
  • When do we need to deliver an answer?
  • What things do we need to communicate with our answer?

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Geoff Ellenor

Geoff Ellenor

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Game Director, WB Games Montréal. Video game nerd. Designer. Tech head. Views expressed here are my own.