Co-creation is on everybody’s lips these days and it is a fundamental concept for successful digital projects. I used to run a digital agency, where we learned early on that we and our client must unite in a team of equals to formulate goals, problems and solutions together — i.e. to co-create — to be able to produce sustainable high-quality solutions.

I would say that the secret key to long-term success, however, is co-failure. For fifteen years I lived and breathed basketball. There was really nothing else that caught my interest and made me feel a hundred percent present and happy the way basketball did.

Now, when I’ve been in hundreds of constellations of teams, I can see that the factors of success and failure from my basketball years are just the same as in any project team. Just like in basketball, co-creation — playing around together, shooting hoops, developing new feints and offenses — is a very creative, stimulating, self-realising activity that can lead to great results and a strong team spirit.

But it is not until you have experienced a failure — lost a game, missed an important shot, committed too many fouls — and are able to avoid blaming individuals, that you have unleashed the true potential of your team.

When something goes wrong and everybody on the team — no matter if they’re from the agency or client — naturally reacts by supporting each other, contemplating what I could’ve done differently myself and motivating each other to deal with the problem together, you have mastered the art of co-failure.

This article is part of a series of more or less unfinished thoughts on digital transformation and team management, a collection of insights from my fifteen years as a team leader at the digital agency SthlmConnection. Originally posted on Medium.

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