They say time flies when you’re having fun, and that’s certainly true for our team at LightBox Collaborative as we handsGearcelebrate our 5th Anniversary! We wanted to mark this milestone by offering our deep gratitude to all the friends, clients and collaborators who’ve helped make LightBox what it is over the last 5 years.

As a team, we’ve reflected on why collaboration is such an important element of our work. It allows us to do more – juicier projects with better results – than any one of us could tackle on our own. By building strong teams that are tailored to each project, it means that each brings our unique and authentic strengths to each project. And when we generate ideas and outline the problem to be solved, we do so with at least two networks and two sets of skills and expertise, in a container that supports our best and fosters true community.

Five years ago, our collaboration was sparked by a crisitunity, when one overwhelming moment sparked a deep realization: more is better, at least when it comes to problem-solving for social change. “People in a good collaboration accomplish more than the group’s most talented members could achieve on their own,” as Twyla Tharp so eloquently notes on her book The Collaborative Habit. Collaboration, she says, “is a recognition that there’s more to life – more opportunity, more knowledge, more danger – than we can master alone. It’s the building block of community… It helps us see beyond ourselves to a universe full of people who are not all like us.”

This has certainly proven true for all of us at LightBox Collaborative. Through our work together on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to immigration reform to education equity, we’ve built our own Mission Manifesto, outlining how and why we collaborate to create more good work together than any one of us could on our own. Through our relationships from clients spanning small nonprofits to large foundations, we’ve connected with many diverse players to strengthen families, bolster organizations, and build movements. Through the daily practice of our work together, collaboration has evolved into a habit, a way of working together toward shared goals.

Building on five years of practiced, practical collaboration, we gathered our lessons to share with our top tips for successful collaboration:

  • Clarity. Collaboration works when people work together – and that demands clear communication and clear expectations. Time and energy invested in clarity is never wasted.
  • Authenticity. Collaboration is all about inviting people to bring their strengths, contributions and offerings together to build something better. The more people can be who they are, working at what their best at, the stronger the results.
  • Grace. It’s the people who drive collaboration, so humanity is the essential element. Respect, humor and a welcoming of the unknown and unexpected can make collaboration truly sing.

Tharp concludes her book, “In the end, all collaborations are love stories.” We couldn’t agree more. For all of us at LightBox Collaborative, collaboration with our clients and colleagues means that we get to do work we love with people with love. So to all our beloved community, we say thank you for five years of collaboration, and here’s to many more.

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hollyHolly Minch, LightBox Collaborative’s founding partner, is really grateful she had that crisitunity that taught her not to go it alone.