This Grammy-Winning Producer’s Secrets To Creative Collaboration

Creative collaboration isn’t as simple as putting a few smart people in the same room.

That’s likely why some of the world’s biggest tech companies, whose offices are packed with some of the brightest minds, invest significant time and money into building policies, physical spaces, and a workplace culture to foster creative collaboration and innovation.

The Google Garage, for example, was specifically designed to ignite creative collaboration between employees.

Companies like Google understand that everything from managerial relationships to physical office layouts will ultimately dictate whether or not creativity is able to flourish. Whether in technology, business, or music, there are certain elements leaders must consider in order to get the most out of their teams.

That’s also the philosophy behind the Red Bull Music Academy in Montreal, where a group of established musicians is mentoring the next generation of musical talent. Fast Company recently caught up with one of its studio tutors, Grammy award-winning producer and musician Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, to discuss his work mentoring young creative talent. As the creative force behind Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 chart-topping album To Pimp a Butterfly, Bruner shares five lessons that experience taught him about collaboration.

Whether in a music studio or an office boardroom, Bruner believes that it’s important for everyone around the table to arrive with a “knowledgable perspective and understanding” of what they want to achieve, and where each member of the team fits into the equation.

“If you are trying to extract creativity from coworkers in different departments, they need to take the time learn about each other’s roles in the company before starting to collaborate,” he says.

Bruner adds that the same is true when putting together a Grammy award-winning album with one of the country’s hottest artists.

“Before working with Kendrick, I made sure I knew as much as I could about his career, his musical strengths, areas that he could explore further and areas I could support,” Bruner observes, “all while trying to understand ultimately what kind of album Kendrick would want to end up with.”

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