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Collaborative Creative Work, on Excel no less

Being CreativeThis past week my boss and I have been working together on the budget file, in preparation for the budget season. There’s a lot of talk in the news, especially in the career section, about the need to be able to collaborate, and that’s exactly what we did the past week.

She has extensive knowledge of the industry as well as a strong mathematical bent. I bring a fresh set of eyes and a creative bent, along with some strong mathematical/Excel skills to supplement what she needs. We worked a lot together on the Concessions tab which was what I call a brain buster because it required setting up the spreasheet to cover as much creative possibilities the supervisors may bring. The formulas became very complicated and convoluted in order to offer as much flexibility as possible. I have a formula that describes this situation: flexibility = complexity. Even though it was a brain buster, it was also a lot  of fun as I tried to figure out a way to maintain some level of simplicity and yet offer flexibility.

Collaboration is probably more than just being able to work together; it is also about bringing together different skills to the table. Even the financial types need to do this now. Unfortunately, most finance types tend to prefer working by themselves to finish their piece of the work (which is totally understandable) but unfortunately, the world is changing and expecting people to “collaborate” in some fashion.

I will also say being creative is hard work! Right now I’m trying to write a “book” on how to work with the file, for the black swan situation where my boss and I die tomorrow and the supervisors have to continue on with the budget file without us. I’m trying to make the “book” simple and easy to “read”, taking into consideration that the supervisors are not numbers oriented or interested. So I have this “great” idea to make the “book” visually” interesting with a quasi magazine layout to help them progress through the file. And it’s taking me a long time to pull together the information and think up visuals. First, I had to learn how to use Word document beyond the basics of just typing my paragraphs and importing screenshots. Remember I want this to be visually interesting, so I’m stretching beyond the basic Word actions to include different layouts, colors, and transparencies. Right now I’m not happy with it, but it is far beyond a typical in-house instruction manual.

And it’s slow work. Being creative is not efficient.

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