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Working together to make work even better

By nature, most people work best when they work together.

Whether the success was by ancient merchants creating written language to document trade, thousands of people working in tandem to put men on the moon, or Crick, Franklin, Watson, and Wilkins jointly discovering the 3-D double-helix of DNA, collaboration was vital.

That’s why we here at JB Ashtin value collaboration.

Scientific expertise, sophisticated strategy, masterful writing, clear creative, and peer review are pillars of effective medical communication and necessary for achieving our clients’ goals. But collaboration provides the extra element that transforms medical communications into evocative medical storytelling.

We emphasize collaboration

Imagine the Beatles without either John or Paul, who provided lyrical and musical balance by finishing most of each other’s songs. Or just one Wright brother. For a jaw-dropping example of teamwork brilliance, look at McLaren’s pit stop in the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix — all astonishing 1.8 seconds of it. (A new world record.)

Collaboration supplements an individual’s strengths with those of others. JB Ashtin, by engaging with teammates with diverse backgrounds, ideas, and expertise creates a force multiplier.

We also rely on collaboration for quality assurance. It can be hard to see your own error or the thing you might have missed. Working together helps us ensure that our work is accurate — which of course is vital to medical communications — while also ensuring we’re supporting client goals.

“Collaboration is an expectation. We rely on the collective skills of our teams to ensure quality deliverables and superior service for our clients,” our founder, Joni Bradley, says.

Combining the tools and the practice of collaboration

Video calls and a variety of digital resources are some of the channels we use to connect with each other. These tools streamline processes and allow us to collaborate within and outside of our organization.

Recently, members of our team reflected on how they collaborate throughout their workday. Some reported that their job regularly requires teamwork, while others differentiated between “active” and “passive” collaboration.

Our writers, for example, shared that they’re constantly working together. If they’re developing a publication on behalf of a client, prior active collaboration was necessary for framing the concept of the piece. If an editor gives feedback on a piece, they collaborate with the writer to help improve its readability.

Ray Beck, Jr., PhD, our senior scientific director, shared how he delineates between “active” and passive” collaboration. Active collaboration is when people actively communicate with others in any of the ways listed above to discuss goals and plans. Passive collaboration usually represents working from the previous work of others (in the way that, say, today’s artists are inspired by the work of their forebears). For us, that might mean developing standard operating procedures and resources that other team members can use, and sharing ideas and web links that aren’t directly tied to a project.

Effective client collaboration ties everything together

We don’t expect clients to develop content or any other task that we are expected to execute. But we require input and clear direction from our clients to be successful. There are several simple things that clients can do to support a superior deliverable:

  • Share your knowledge and data
    Provide all available data and source materials at the beginning; any and all information you have that helps us build a complete and accurate story

  • Get started sooner
    Our goal is always to meet and exceed your objectives. The more lead time we have, the better we can hone and shape our deliverables

  • Introduce us to your experts (eg, internal stakeholders, advisors, investigators)
    The right people involved earlier in the process ensures that we include their perspectives and insights in our first draft (and, is required to be compliant in the publication process)

  • Tell us what success looks like to you
    Early alignment on the end goal(s) helps us achieve our ‘first draft, best draft’ objective (and keeps the project scope in line)

  • Communicate often 
    “We don’t have all the answers,” as Joni says, “so feel free to text, email, or call us at any time. We want to be so much more than a vendor – we want to be your partner.”

Client Success is our Goal

Clients gain the most from our partnerships when they lean into collaboration with us.

Giving direction and feedback, for example, is crucial for successful collaboration. Feedback, good or bad, gives direction to achieving client goals. Without guidance, actions and plans may be executed inaccurately. Everyone on our team craves feedback because we want to exceed expectations. If the feedback is not great, we’ll do better, and if it is great, we’ll do more of it. The worst? Getting no feedback at all.

Receiving quality feedback in a timely fashion does more than simply improve the quality of the work – it saves resources and prevents scope creep. “Getting key information and feedback from clients helps us stay on-time and on-budget,” Joni says, “which is win-win.”

We never lose sight of what is truly at stake

The purpose behind all this, of course, is what other industries might call an “end user” — but what we know as patients, and patients are people. There are people who need the innovative medical treatments our clients develop. They are the reason we’re invested in the work we do, and that’s why collaboration is essential: so that together, we can help heal people, one medical breakthrough at a time.

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