What does collaboration mean to you?

What does collaboration mean to you?

As the new year allows for a (brief) period of reflection, we´ve been thinking about collaboration and the many ways we at The Assembly Line, form connections with others which often bring new ideas, bigger projects and new learning.

We find we collaborate in many forms including:

Sharing knowledge
We pride ourselves on being trusted partners to our clients and enjoy working on projects that generate meaningful results and deliver action plans.

Collaborating isn’t always about work though and we’re keen to share our knowledge and develop new relationships and learn from them. We do this being a:

  • Mentor: The Hatchery is a dedicated start-up space within UCL’s entrepreneurship hub where UCL’s most promising start-ups receive support to fast track their success. Diane, our founder, has been signed up for a third year as a mentor. As a two way process we learn a lot from this experience from working with younger people just starting out.
  • CIC board member: The Fabric District CIC was set up to support the revival of an area of Liverpool city centre. Our founder Diane, sits on the board working to encourage business growth, culture and a strong and diverse residential offer and it’s been great getting to understand the challenges facing a developing area outside London.
  • Charity Trustee: The London Society holds events, debates and talks and sponsors the APPG on London Planning and Built Environment. Our founder, Diane plays an active part in developing the marketing and event programme, has written for their journal and has chaired and curated a number of events.

Developing content
Another way we collaborate with others is through content creation such as when we were asked to author a blog post with Placed, an organisation who specialise in place education and engagement, developing knowledge and community insights into the built environment. Read our collaborative blog post here

We find ourselves hotdesking in various co-working spaces and in the offices of contacts and stakeholders who are very welcoming in opening up their office to us when we are moving around the country. 

Hotdesking provides a way to work together, without the commitment of working in the same location full time, perfect for companies like ours as we find ourselves working on projects based in locations between Barrow-in-Furness and Margate. 

We find that changing up our work location frequently sparks new ideas, provides more focus and often, we find commonality with others on content we can create or joint pitches we can develop. A big thank you to Jan Kattein Architects for opening up their office to us, appropriately, a former shop, when we’re in London.

How collaborations arise
Often collaborations arise from an introduction or referral from those we know or via networks such as LinkedIn or where we have been part of a multi-disciplinary team on a project and gone on to collaborate with members of the team again and these connections open up new opportunities to a wider skill base and expertise.

Working in multiple locations, set up meetings as movements allow. Informal catch-ups and conversations spark great conversations and bring a new energy to how the business might grow and diversify.

Pre-Christmas in London, we met a people we’d not seen since lockdown, purely by chance at networking events such as Placemaking Collective UK and it was great to reconnect and think about how we might be able to develop a project together in the future.

Benefitting from collaboration
The main benefit of collaborating is from the learning we gain. When you work in the same role on projects or with the same people it can be easy to fall into the habit of applying the same approach each time. We encourage all of our clients to learn how others work – good and bad, to help adapt and discover more efficient ways of working together.

Collaboration also helps to build resource – as a small consultancy, it can be challenging when projects all land at once. Knowing there’s a trusted cohort of companies and people out there who can support us in scaling up is invaluable. Our regular collaborators include Sarah Taylor  and Daisy Rudd who have a wealth of experience in markets, community engagement and public affairs, both of whom we met on other projects.

It’s not always about winning 
We met Matt Bell from Oneday via  Jo Harrop at Placed who introduced us to work on a pitch. We didn’t win the pitch but have gone on to support and grow each others businesses over the last 18 months so it’s not always about winning work together!

In 2022 we starting working with larger consultancies who could provide access to data and research to complement our on the ground work with high street businesses and stakeholders, data providers who can add a new dimension to engagement findings and actions plans and we continue to work with architects of all sizes from one of the largest to smaller, high street focused ones.

When it goes right…and wrong
Trust and honesty are important as this contributes to meeting deadlines, attending meetings, completing agreed actions and taking accountability.

It’s important to ensure all team members are up to date on the progress of the project and deadlines without the need for too many meetings. When there’s a difference in culture or a wide variance in day rates across organisations it can require more work at the beginning to set a firm foundation.

What new collaborations might form in 2023?
We are likely to continue to see the requirement for multi disciplinary teams to form tender responses and we are seeing more thought going into projects before providers are appointed which highlights the need for experts in different disciplines.

We look forward to connecting with new people and organisations as the year developers.

Spark a discussion on a future collaboration with us by contacting us via hello@theassemblyline.co.uk or get in touch if you’d like to meet if you are in London, Liverpool or Manchester.