What does the Incredible Hulk have to do with collaboration?

In the 1960s, Stan Lee, a real superhero of the comic’s world, and his artist friends created a popular universe inhabited by characters that are world famous today. One of these was the Incredible Hulk; a green monster, a product of radiation. The character himself was largely a reflection of the times. The 1960s were the pinnacle of the Cold War, nuclear armament, fear of nuclear radiation etc. The instant popularity of the character may be explained by looking at the link between the collective fears that people shared, initially in the US and then in other parts of the world. These fears, like all other primary emotions, find their way into the minute details of our daily lives. It is not too difficult to imagine then that a dramatic, albeit in the form of comics (which were not always considered the 9th art they are today), resolution of the fear had to be found in some form of fictional play. The Incredible Hulk was a therapy of sorts. So, what does the green monster have to do with collaboration?


The similarity is not to be found in the character’s personality, or in its role, when compared with the role of collaboration. Rather, it is the commonality of the process that leads to a creation of ideas that taps into common sentiment. Like the Incredible Hulk, collaboration has to be understood in a broader societal context. The idea that collaboration is ‘new competition’, or that it provides an excellent background for innovation, or even that it is a necessity for businesses of any kind to survive, are all largely true. But, they to do not explain many other factors that drive us to collaborate.

This is where I would like to enlist the help of sociologists and other behavioural scientists. We need to understand the deeper factors that have led us to embrace collaboration. In a way, collaboration is a social phenomenon. It is not new, but the way it permeates into daily life is. Think about it. If you listen to music on the way to work, you are quite likely to hear a song that is produced as a result of collaboration between two artists. Major hits today are often collaboration between artists. If you pay attention to your surroundings, you will notice that world is increasingly built by collaboration. The idea of collaboration is borne out of the intensity of societal challenges which are unique to the times we live in. The earth is round but the world is flat. We live in the world that is not divided into day and night as much as the planet itself seems to be. The point where once a distinct past, present and future existed on their own, is now combined into a new form. We relive the past, we meet some of our needs in the present, but also we bring our future into the mix in order to make sense of it all.

The attractiveness of collaboration is created out of a certain logic that is supported by one of the most innate features of human life: a sense of connectedness. What collaboration offers is the sense of security found in the fact that each of us are not solving problems (that we all share) in isolation. The comfort found in joint attempts to deal with the challenges of our time is a response to the very fact that we do not live in small communities. A human tragedy unfolding 20 thousand kilometres away is a tragedy on the doorstep or our emotional, psychological and intellectual life. Collaboration may seem to be of most relevance in an economic enterprise, but that is only because that is where we come together in the most active way. It is in the work setting that we more often get to play out our fears and hopes. Solving a problem at work is not the end game. Solving the problem in a work context is an emotional expression of our abilities as humans. Collaboration offers hope and results in outcomes that we call products and services.

When we see a new idea transformed into a reality and manifested in human activities, we need to remember that the force behind such an idea is a global, shared human nature. Collaboration is the force of human need, not a passing trend. Engaging with it is not a simple matter of doing business, but also making sure your business is not archaic.


I am regularly asked whether I think that a new business undertaking, be it a start-up, a social enterprise or a traditional business venture, has a better chance of succeeding with collaboration as part of its strategy. I am inclined to say “Yes”, but with one major qualification; collaboration is not a simple discipline and as such it can’t be engaged as a simple formula to make a new business work. Collaboration is likely to be a strategic asset to any enterprise that approaches it with the right attitude. Working together is one thing; collaborating in the full sense of the word is much more. Some of the selected resources in this week’s edition of recommended reading implicitly confirms this.



Collaboration the key to award-winning business

The classic combination of wine and cheese had a lot to do with why Kris Lloyd ended up as the owner of Woodside Cheese Wrights in 1999. Having worked for her husband’s family winery, Coriole, she was keen to find a new venture that would add value to the core business. With a corporate development background, Lloyd’s grasp of basic cheesemaking skills was limited, to say the least. But she quickly became hooked and despite many mistakes and set-backs, including two years of losses, the small artisan cheesemaker started making headway. Wrapping cheese in seaweed or covering it with flowers attracted many sceptics, but taking risks and innovating have paid off, she says. And, once a male-dominated sphere, there are now many more women joining her as cheesemakers…READ ON


Collaboration Tools for Startups

Starting a company today doesn’t require the massive funding, staffing and resources it used to. It doesn’t have to follow the traditional formula of creating a business plan, pitching to investors, introducing a product and pushing sales and marketing. Harvard Business Review reports that instead of an all-out hard launch after full development, new startup methodologies are more about experimentation, customer feedback, designing, testing, refining and retesting products and services. Making this new startup model possible is new technology and collaboration tools. Everyone that needs to harness the power of a team, group or network to make something happen is using collaboration tools, especially if everyone is not in the same room or even the same country together…READ ON


Social Business Platform Enhances Collaboration

handsSchneider Electric consolidated more than 24 systems into one platform that reaches across IT environments, radically changing the way people work and interact. Communication and collaboration are at the center of today’s business environment, and the stakes grow exponentially for a large multinational conglomerate. At Schneider Electric, which operates in 110 countries under brands such as APC, Pelco and PowerLogic, the need to connect upward of 160,000 employees—and present a unified face to customers and business partners—has led to a comprehensive cloud-based social business platform…READ ON


The power of integration and collaboration

Imagine having two claims adjusters handling every workers’ compensation claim — one managing the medical component, the other handling the indemnity — sitting in different rooms and rarely discussing the claim. Aside from being an extremely inefficient claims management process, not only would the impact on the claim outcome from a cost savings perspective suffer, but the injured employee could be confused, frustrated and ill-served. In most companies today, health insurance, short-term disability (STD), long-term disability (LTD), and absence management are human resources (HR) and employee benefits functions; the responsibility for workers’ compensation rests squarely on the shoulders of the risk management department. They’re classic siloed functions, with minimal collaboration and sometimes even outright animus between the groups…READ ON


Collaboration in the Cloud and Mobile World: Getting Rid Of the Turmoil

We no longer have to be in the same location to collaborate. Technology lets us communicate across time zones, between teams and individuals, as well as internal and external stakeholders. Technology provides us with a 24/7 platform to disclose and discuss what people are working on or contemplating. Technology allows us to put forward our opinions and open up discussion…READ ON


ISIC and Danske Bank announce strategic collaboration

One of the world’s largest student organisations, ISIC, is joining forces with Danske Bank. The first step is to offer student customers an International Student Identity Card and participation in professional events aimed at facilitating student life abroad. From Danske Bank’s point of view, the collaboration is one way of making Danske Bank even more attractive to young customers. Initially, the agreement with ISIC means that student customers get substantial discounts on ISIC cards, which in return make them eligible for discounts on train and flight tickets, shopping, books, computer equipment and more…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


How A World-Class Heart Surgeon Found The One Leadership Trait Many Businesses Are Missing

heart rateTen years ago, right before he became CEO of the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, 65-year-old Dr. Toby Cosgrove had good reason to believe he’d already acquired all the knowledge and wisdom he needed to excel in his new role. The man, who recently was President Obama’s first choice to take over the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs following the resignation of General Erik Shinseki, could not have been more qualified for the position. And few people in his field, moreover on the planet, had amassed a more stunning list of career achievements. Dr. Cosgrove had earned a Bronze Star as a Vietnam surgeon. He’d performed 22,000 surgeries, patented 30 different medical inventions, created a highly profitable venture capital group, written 450 journal articles, and led the clinic’s cardiac care team that U.S. News & World News Report named best in the nation for 20 consecutive years…READ ON


Don’t forget beauty and harmony for a complete collaboration experience

Humans are wired for the appreciation of beauty, harmony, pleasant patterns. Work can be beautiful. The entire experience can be pleasant in a similar way that we experience listening to good music, appreciate a sculpture or admire a well designed chair. It is not a standard thing for people to go to work and think about tasks they need to accomplish during the day as an opportunity to experience beauty. Sure enough, this can’t be a universal assertion because there are only certain professions and occupations that offer this opportunity and to some degree rely on our capacity to connect with our sense of what is beautiful. To us, that is.

Perhaps, this is what all work should be about. A platform where we can create value by integrating aesthetic values and principles. Now, this may seem like a ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ scenario and our critical selves might suggest that work is not about that. Maybe our time in the workplace has led to the belief that brutality is more likely to dominate our chances of survival in the marketplace. A dog-eat-dog world view is still the order of the day. Work is the place where we do our job according to an agreed employment contract, a place where we tolerate all kinds of things we would not wish on others. The majority of us do not dream of a work place but an escape place. The beach!

Then again there may be another way. I cannot shake the feeling that our work should be a supreme expression of who we are. It is one place where the sum of all parts, our history, present and future all juxtapose. In a world where western economies now have the dubious honour of claiming an unprecedented level of employee disengagement (hovering around 70%), the potential for collaboration could offer something new and sustainable. Collaboration as a mode of work, a way of creating value, a way of competing on the global stage may open the door to redesigning work as a place where beauty and harmony are like the salt and pepper ingredients of the main meal. Maybe value creation, be it for profit or pure social impact, is more likely to be relevant if it allows people, the value creators, to express more of their being and their sense of appreciation for what may be beautiful to them.

flowTwo decades ago Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi opened our eyes to the ‘flow’ concept. Ever since, this concept has increasingly become relevant, however that is not to say that those in control of organisational performance have fully grasped the enormity of it, let along used it do make their businesses more resilient and competitive. The sad fact is that, by one calculation, the current rate of employee disengagement costs the US economy a whopping US$500 billion per year. Talk about smart business bordering on comical. I have observed firsthand the difference in the performance of staff that have been briefed and supported to collaborate internally. While increased levels of transaction between people who are collaborating also brings an inevitable increased risk of friction and misunderstanding, the simple fact is that when collaboration is the centrepiece of performance, people adjust well to it. The end game then increases to a higher value. What is equally true is that people working collaboratively tend to be more aware of each other and their desires to be both valued as a person as a whole and also treat others as such. It is in that context that magic happens. People start to compete with whole personalities, not just ‘professional personas’. In other words they start to share their broader selves. In the process of creating value they talk about their tastes in film, music or clothes. They tend to access parts of their inner life that allow them to impart it into work.

A group of people developing a project may then use their sense of appreciation for whatever interests them outside of work as a way of making their project more a reflection of who they are as people. That is where the expression of beauty, harmony and so on comes to the fore. That kind of experience is more likely to make people feel as if their work matters, even though the product they are working on may be mundane in itself. The process of working collaboratively is about drawing more of the ‘complete human being’ out and directly into the product they wish to share on the marketplace. When the globe went crazy over the iPhone, it was not the utility as such (there were already good products on the market fulfilling such needs) but it was the design and feel of the object that ‘spoke’ to us on an intimate level. The creators of that product, led by the famous Jonathan Ives, knew that beauty in the process of work had to translate itself into a value that can be shared. Profitably!


I recently came across the term ‘collaborative capitalist’, which was in reference to Margaret Heffernan, the author of A Bigger Prize. I have not read the book and so can’t really comment much. But judging by what information is available, it seems that Ms Heffernan makes a critical point of the importance of collaboration as a strategy that adds value to competition. I liked the ‘grand challenge’ kind of call that the author issued, because collaboration should be valued for its enormous capacity. The great Scottish philosopher David Hume remarked in the first of half of the 18th century that humans have a tendency to judge ideas by comparing them to each other rather than focusing on their intrinsic worth. This week’s selection is a modest attempt to incite more interest in collaboration as a value-laden discipline that every enterprise or individual can benefit from.


Collaboration and Creativity: When Competition Enters In, Women Check Out

Recent papers have suggested that women improve small working groups and so adding women to a group is a sure-fire way to boost team collaboration and creativity. A new study from Washington University in St. Louis says that is only true when women there is no competition. Force teams to go head to head and the benefits of a female approach evaporate. “Intergroup competition is a double-edged sword that ultimately provides an advantage to groups and units composed predominantly or exclusively of men, while hurting the creativity of groups composed of women,” said Markus Baer, PhD, lead author of the study and associate professor of organizational behavior at Olin Business School…READ ON


Collaboration rules in advertising and marketing

cogsThe future of advertising and marketing lies in collaboration, says Jim Faulds, incoming CEO of communications group JWT SA. There is no longer room for individual egos and dictatorial, “monolithic” agencies. Faulds says clients are demanding guidance from agencies to help them navigate an increasingly chaotic marketing environment. He cites the example of Keith Weed, global marketing head of household goods giant Unilever, who told this year’s Cannes Lions creative festival in France, that marketers are being overwhelmed by the rate of media fragmentation…READ ON



Collaboration will ensure exciting future

Robots are now considered an important indicator of a country’s level of automation and are even seen by some as the “jewels in the crown of manufacturing”. The performance of countries in researching, building and putting robots to work is increasingly seen as a barometer of their innovative abilities and industrial success. The US, Japan, South Korea and other leading manufacturing economies have slotted the robot industry into their national strategies for development, and as a result their technology levels have matured and their exports have grown…READ ON


Collaboration and gender

In February 2012, a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society found that testosterone makes us less inclined to collaborate and more egocentric. Too much testosterone simply blinds us to other people’s views, opinions, views and ideas and encourages us to impose our own decisions and solutions to problems, the paper found. Now, new research by Danish consultancy, Innovisor has examined how this process manifests itself in the workplace, revealing that we are far more inclined to cooperate with others of the same sex…READ ON


The Importance of Prioritizing Collaboration for Female Entrepreneurs

ariThis is how I view the gender imbalance in the technology industry: Yes, women entrepreneurs aren’t represented equally, but this doesn’t mean that the industry is broken and requires fixing. Rather, we need to empower female founders to successfully navigate today’s entrepreneurial reality, accelerate business growth, impact and value creation. That’s why I founded Women’s Startup Lab in 2013 in Menlo Park, Calif. Our mission is to pair female entrepreneurs with fellow tech founders and advisers who can help them build their networks and prepare their companies for the next stage of their business…READ ON


Creativity and Collaboration

Collaboration is often good for creativity. But be sure to make smart choices about the characteristics of your partner, when you join forces or work alone, how you decide upon who does what and how critique is handled. The right collaborator has an enormous influence on the product and the pleasure of the exchange. If the chemistry is not right, the roles are nebulous, or competitiveness looms, collaborations can be draining…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


9 Ways to Become More Creative in the Next 10 Minutes


Modern culture often labels creativity as natural gift. Artists get showered with praise and proclamations of “you’re so talented,” but truthfully, talent has little to do with it. Creativity is a skill to be learned, practiced, and developed, just like any other. Juggling takes practice, as does surfing, coding, and driving a car. Creativity is no different. The more you make creativity part of your daily life, the more it will grow. So how do you make creativity part of your daily life? Here are 9 suggestions–and guess what? You can get started on them all in the next 10 minutes…READ ON

The best alternative to collaboration is better collaboration

As you all know, I have a vested interest in collaboration, so if this piece sounds a bit ‘it’s all about collaboration’, that is probably because it is. My main point is not that collaboration is unavoidable and that everything has to be done collaboratively. What I do think is that almost everything can be done better with collaboration as the baseline.

...what is behind simplicity and perfection...

…what is behind simplicity and perfection…

One of the critical features of collaboration is that it differs from many other strategies in that it can be a bit unpredictable. It’s a little bit like a dance competition with many partners. While the steps and moves (being a bad dancer I should have used a better metaphor) may emerge from practiced choreography, the fact remains that we are scored not only on technical aspects of the dance but also on the chemistry and the ‘x’ factor. Collaboration’s ‘x’ factor is largely made up of two parts; trust and the balance between self-interest and shared interest. The latter is all about negotiations and credibility that partners bring into the collaboration. The former goes further and it can test each partner’s capacity to be committed and resolve challenges as they appear without wavering from the original goal. This is where the resilience of individual agents and collectives can be tested.

All collaborations have a weak spot. These are not intrinsically located in a lack of resources, or lack of skills and capacities per se. Although a combination of all factors may be the centre of the weakness, I find that it is more the level of synchronised progress between parties that tends to put pressure on the final outcome. A simple and yet easily forgotten aspect of collaboration, and one I never get tired of repeating, is “if a collaboration does not change you, then you probably are not collaborating”.

Collaboration is very likely to push people and organisations out of their comfort zones. At times it can seem downright threatening. At times it not as easy for collaborating parties to distinguish which threat or challenge, however they perceive it, is about a shared goal and which may be solely driven by self-interest. Those challenges can easily create a rift that causes trust deficit.

One of the potential remedies for such situation is in fact more of a preventative measure that a good collaboration strategist should deploy at the start; i.e. ensure that the early stages of collaboration are not rushed. Striking while the iron’s hot does not work here. Collaboration should focus on an attitude shift whereby collaborating partners realise that the strategies that got them to be winners now require of them a re-frame of their winning approaches. An essential part of this is understanding that all parties must be prepared to act as redundancies for their partners, as opposed to ‘each man for himself’. This may sound unfair to those who are rewarded by operating on the traditional basis whereby each parson/agency exclusively focuses on their own tasks and rely on others to do the same. However, far from implying that one party should do the ‘heavy lifting’ for another, what I am suggesting is that collaboration’s disruptive power can be hard to respond or adapt to. Some are better at it than others. Some have better capacities, resources or experience that may make a difference in the way they respond to the potential bursts of disruption that come with collaboration. It is at those moments that the collaborative strategy is fully tested. If partners have secured a workable governance and management structure, these will reveal themselves as the major strengths for a collaboration project. And, at times that may mean that a collaborating party will respond differently when their partner is experiencing difficulties.

When all this is considered and when potential collaborators have examined the real drivers behind their need or desire to collaborate, then some of these issues can be factored in. These are the components of the collaboration that should be approached with diligent attention by all parties. To enjoy the dance, it’s good preparation and agreement on a range of factors that will make for a good party. So, next time when you encounter the old excuse that collaboration is difficult, remember to point out that the best parties are the result of better collaboration.


The adoption of new ideas is not a precise science. Certainly it is not always about logic and rationality, as much as we hope these would be part of the argument. Embracing collaboration is one of those ideas whose seemingly simple construction leads to a blind spot: we think that people accept what they understand. This is only a small part of a larger puzzle. New ideas mean change – and that is a whole different story. In this selection I have aimed to include a few stories that may inspire courage and nudge reluctant collaborators to power ahead. Of particular note is the piece that reflects on the perennial challenge of balancing competition and collaboration. In a similar vein, other articles include the disruptive nature of collaboration, the issues small organisations face when collaborating with larger partners, and the traps to avoid for safe and productive collaboration.


Why collaborating with the competition can make business sense

General CSR coalitions are being supplemented by those focused on specific issues such as the Tire Industry Project, which looks at environmental impact. Photograph: Desintegrator/Alamy

General CSR coalitions are being supplemented by those focused on specific issues such as the Tire Industry Project, which looks at environmental impact. Photograph: Desintegrator/Alamy

Businesses are engaging in varied models of collaboration to improve their own, and society’s resilience. Businesses banding together to learn from each other is nothing new: think of medieval guilds or chambers of commerce. More recently, business-led corporate responsibility coalitions have galvanised action on economic regeneration, social inclusion and responsible business practices. Business in the Community, for example, has got member companies to act on issues such as employability, homelessness and mental health in the workplace…READ ON



Lessons from America: why colleges must collaborate rather than compete

In May, I was part of a group of vice chancellors that visited America to learn how its education institutions are tackling the challenges of globalisation. The visit offered a window into Chicago’s higher education system, including the city’s community colleges. How is this powerful city tackling the challenges of increased global competition in education? And how is it responding to local needs in a fast-changing technological and economic environment?…READ ON


How a chief collaboration officer can help IT projects succeed

CCOIn recent years, some progressive companies have hired a chief collaboration officer to help guide joint projects, partnerships and shared services. Too often, collaboration falls in a gap between the CIO, the human resources office and the CEO. A CCO is a great idea, and one that some government organizations (including the Navy) are starting to explore. And it’s a good time for this type of executive appointment. Government agencies at all levels are moving more of their IT solutions to the cloud or to shared services, and in the process they are running into road blocks, including:…READ ON


Collaboration: a distracting buzzword, or vital for business growth?

Collaboration is one of the buzzwords of the early 21st century. It has become a hot topic among early-stage companies, governments, artists, charities, startups and corporate behemoths. Many see collaboration as a super-pill that can cure organisations’ ills, regardless of the diagnosis. But is it truly as effective as we are led to believe? Small businesses and early-stage companies should be especially cautious. There is no denying that collaboration is fun, and often intellectually exhilarating; it can also be helpful in generating new ideas and developing projects…READ ON


The disruptive power of collaboration: An interview with Clay Shirky

From the invention of the printing press to the telephone, the radio, and the Internet, the ways people collaborate change frequently, and the effects of those changes often reverberate through generations. In this video interview, Clay Shirky, author, New York University professor, and leading thinker on the impact of social media, explains the disruptive impact of technology on how people live and work—and on the economics of what we make and consume. This interview was conducted by McKinsey Global Institute partner Michael Chui, and an edited transcript of Shirky’s remarks follows…READ ON


Tesla’s collaboration with both Toyota and Daimler is a good example of how large and small companies can collaborate effectively. Source: http://advertisementfeature.cnn.com/think-brilliant/collaboration-not-disruption.html

Tesla’s collaboration with both Toyota and Daimler is a good example of how large and small companies can collaborate effectively. Source: http://advertisementfeature.cnn.com/think-brilliant/collaboration-not-disruption.html

IBM and Dow Collaboration Delivers Sustainable Solutions in Ethiopia While Building Employee Leadership Skills

“Collaboration is instrumental in a project of this scope because no one company holds all the solutions to the world’s problems,” said Michelle Langley, Program Leader for Dow Sustainability Corps, Global Disaster Relief and STEM. “More than 35 percent of the world’s population lacks access to improved sanitation. By aligning strategies and leveraging each other’s employee talent, Dow and IBM can leave a lasting impact on the region.” “By bringing together the top talent and emerging leaders at IBM and Dow, we are able to strengthen the impact we make on the community as well as deepen the experience for the employees, ultimately building lifelong relationships and sustainable solutions,” said Gina Tesla, Director, IBM Corporate Citizenship…READ ON


How to Successfully Collaborate With a Larger Business Partner

In the tech space, partnerships can go a long way to round out a product offer, speed time-to-market, or extend sales channels. It takes effort and attention to manage these relationships, especially if you are a smaller company dealing with a larger, established partner. The larger the brand, the more work we have to do in advance to demonstrate the value of the partnership…READ ON


GSA CIO: Successful Organizations Connect, Collaborate and Innovate

Successful CIOs are driving digital business transformation, leveraging mobile, social and cloud computing technologies to improve workforce productivity, while reducing IT expenses and bolstering employee engagement. Sonny Hashmi, Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), has received the 2013 Federal 100 award for Digital Government Innovation — as a “cloud expander.” Using cloud to enable social communities and leverage the genius of the crowd, Hashmi is saving GSA millions of dollars and bringing about many business efficiencies…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…

15 Designers Reveal Secrets For Staying Productive

Since April, Samara, Russia-based designer Yevgeny Yermakov has been asking designers a series of five questions–about work habits, favorite books, career challenges, and creativity–and publishing their answers on his website. The project, “5 Questions for 100 Designers,” is growing into a trove of wisdom from the industry’s leading minds. Forty-four interviews are up so far, with designers from Jessica Hische to Debbie Millman to Michael Bierut. One of Yermakov’s questions addresses that most elusive and sought-after of virtues: productivity. He asks, “Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?”…READ ON


It’s about relevance

relevantIn the last selection of ROADMENDER Recommends I was guided by a point that seemed so obvious and yet in need of reinforcing. As I remarked then, collaboration has surpassed the point of familiarity and has entered into the sphere of relevance in a variety of ways. The shift towards collaboration, or in some cases the outright embrace of it as a competitive solution for a number of challenges that private, government as well as not for profit sectors face, is a strategically smart choice. Mentioning collaboration though still conjures up a variety of responses that are not always coherent and, more importantly, not clearly relevant. While I have no doubt this will change as practice improves, the key is to never lose sight of the fundamentals.

Collaboration is about relevance. This should be the first and most critical starting point in designing any kind of strategic outcome which relies on a collaborative approach. The attraction to collaboration can be the positive energy people experience when working collaboratively. The popularity of the term sometimes may lead organisations to use it as a throwaway line for making things sound better. And there are many other reasons why people are willing to agree to enter into a collaboration regardless of how much real thought they put into it beforehand.

There’s no getting away from the fact that collaboration is still seen as a junior partner in strategic thought. This is often the first mistake; and designing a collaborative strategy can end up being a discussion about everything except collaboration. Here I get reminded of Oscar Wilde’s famous remark, “everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.” That remark can equally apply to collaboration. Perhaps everything is about collaboration except collaboration. Regardless, whichever way we approach it, collaboration should be the relevance that forms the backbone of any enterprise’s competitive strategy.

When we look at competition, which is major guiding principle in any business endeavour, we first need to establish the point of relevance of our service/product. But to be competitive today we need to create better solutions, which are vitally dependent upon an enterprise’s ability to innovate. This is the critical part: innovation is severely limited without creative use of new data, concepts and ideas. All these are very expensive, and almost cost prohibitive, factors for many enterprises. Ideas are expensive. Knowledge is expensive. Data is expensive. So here is where sharing strategically, i.e. collaborating, makes the difference.

The idea of sharing in a strategic way, where self-interest and shared interest balance each other, is what keeps collaboration relevant. Utilising the collaborative strategy as a process for fine tuning the relevance of any endeavour is what collaboration is best suited to. This is not to say that collaboration can’t also add value across a range of processes within an enterprise. Collaboration can unlock capacities for collaborating partners that normally would come with serious cost. However, any collaboration that does not end with a measurable outcome, whereby a business partner is able to see its enhanced relevance in a chosen market, is not sustainable. Relevance is what allows any enterprise to grow and be resilient.

So, when an opportunity to collaborate emerges, ask yourself a question: will it make the project more relevant to the target audience? If not, look the other way.


Collaboration is a hot topic in the not for profit world – from Australia and the UK to the USA, Africa and Asia. There is a shift in the way charities, not for profits, NGOs, community organisations, voluntary groups, social enterprises, and a plethora of other groups operate. Most prefer to see themselves as slightly unique while in reality they all share one major feature: none are interested in sharing profits with shareholders but instead are focused on creating social impact and solving major socio-economic societal issues. This shift towards collaboration has not come as a surprise; it’s only been a matter of time. However, the shift is also very challenging and for many quite unnerving. After all, many are only used to paying lip service to collaboration, as opposed to making collaboration the default position for solving problems and being more relevant. This week’s selection offers a few interesting pieces which may help calm the nerves and help in transition to collaboration paradigm.


Collaboration between charities can help them embrace risk and adapt

Running in the same direction: partnerships between charities could help them spread risk more attractively Photograph: Tony Sapiano/REX

Running in the same direction: partnerships between charities could help them spread risk more attractively Photograph: Tony Sapiano/REX

Make a mistake as a manager in a commercial company and you face losing your job as well as your investors’ money. Do something similar in a charity and you face harming the vulnerable people your organisation most wants to help. How charities can balance the importance of protecting their beneficiaries against the need to innovate in an ever-tightening economic climate was the subject of a roundtable hosted by the Guardian, in conjunction with Zurich Insurance, earlier this month…READ ON


Collaboration is key to helping homeless

The News-Journal’s call for openness and cooperation among homeless service providers, clients and advocates is welcome and timely. The Volusia/Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless thanks The News-Journal for bringing continued attention to the crisis of homelessness and for insisting in a recent editorial, “Conflict is distracting and destructive.” Preventing and ending homelessness requires a commitment to collaboration across different community groups: nonprofit, faith-based, business and government…READ ON


How can you collaborate more successfully?


We are now in the days of asking and listening to our customers and working with them in our innovation cycles. Innovation demands collaboration. So does production. In the past we could focus on a single task in an assembly-line fashion, handing our completed activity to the next person who would in turn do the same, until the job was finished. Now the jobs change fast, requiring learning new skills rather than merely repeating the old. We have to seek out people who have other pieces of the puzzle and work with them to tackle increasingly complex issues…READ ON


SME collaboration puts UK ahead of the game

Collaboration between SMEs and global corporations has helped to put the UK at the forefront of innovation, Rolls-Royce Submarines’ head of engineering improvement told an Insider breakfast. Patrick Kniveton said at the Midlands Innovation Breakfast that major manufacturers are no longer simply looking to suppliers to secure the best deal on price. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are taking into account the skills SMEs can offer and the innovation which comes from the business. “They’re collaborating whether it’s supporting them financially or helping to train their people, they’re even providing opportunities for secondment into the larger company,” Kniveton added…READ ON


Collaboration critical to innovation and productivity

Effective collaboration between businesses and between business and publicly funded research is a critical enabler of innovation. Additionally, international collaboration is critical to the increased productivity and competitiveness of Australian firms. Collaboration with publicly funded researchers can help businesses access new technologies, ideas and markets. International collaboration facilitates access to new markets and networks and assists with the early adoption of technologies developed elsewhere. New analysis of 8,000 Australian small to medium businesses, found that innovative firms that collaborate are more productive than their non-collaborating competitors. The strongest benefits arise from collaborations with research organisations…READ ON


Germany Seeks Collaboration To Promote Nigeria’s Renewable Energy Policy

German government is seeking effective collaboration that would help in delivering other sources of energy in Nigeria. Under the consideration, the country intends to provide technical back-up to Nigeria in the area of renewable energy. Head of energy and environment desk of the delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria , Baerbel Freyer, who gave this indication said the country was concerned about Nigeria’s lingering energy crises…READ ON


Collaboration technology’s winning kick

soccerCollaborative technology means many things to many people, but “revenue generating” and “robust” hasn’t always been on that list. That is starting to change. If you had stepped out of the room for a moment you would have missed it, but soccer is often like that. I refer to, of course, the final game of this year’s World Cup when, after hours of play with neither side yielding a single point, German winger Andre Schürrle passed the ball to teammate Mario Gotze, who went on to send his nation into ecstasy with a beautifully executed winning kick…READ ON


India, US to identify collaboration opportunities in projects

India and the US today agreed to start identification of projects where partners from both the countries can collaborate in order to enhance trade and investment ties between the countries. In an hour-long meeting, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker reviewed the trade ties between the countries. “Both sides agreed to initiate identification of real projects where partners from both the countries will collaborate,” an official statement issued after the meeting said…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


With Big Data Comes Big Responsibility


You should presume that someday, we will be able to make machines that can reason, think and do things better than we can,” Google co-founder Sergey Brin said in a conversation with Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla. To someone as smart as Brin, that comment is as normal as sipping on his super-green juice, but to someone who is not from this landmass we call Silicon Valley or part of the tech-set, that comment is about the futility of their future…READ ON



The surprise factor: a unique characteristic of the collaboration experience

There are moments that at times stretch into days of frustration caused by collaboration not going as planned. How that frustration plays out in the final outcome can be largely determined by the design of the collaborative strategy. Collaboration is a process of value creation with a significant focus on the critical examination of all components that are brought into a project. Often, collaborating partners bring ideas, approaches, knowledge, data, resources etc that they prize and believe would be best utilised in the project. It is the task of all other partners in the group to examine each of those elements in light of a shared goal. This is easier said than done because there is no 100% objective way to it. Collaboration relies as much on a degree of creative thinking, intuition and heuristics, as it does on what we might call hard evidence.

...expect surprises...

…expect surprises…

Practice makes perfect is the best way to put it: collaboration gets easier and more efficient the more it is practiced. By practice I also mean to include constant learning and researching. Although there is no shortage of interesting writing in the form of books, articles and case studies which are easily accessible for all collaboration practitioners, there is in equal measure a lot of areas in the field that are still not well researched. One of the interesting things I find in my own quest for learning more about collaboration is the recurrence of two kinds of feedback that people share after a collaboration project is finished. First, many consistently report that they were surprised how much more they were able to achieve through collaboration. The second observation is about the process of collaboration and how many find that they were doing things in ways previously not thought of.

“Maybe collaboration’s biggest surprise is the way that it can draw out the best in us!”

Both of these remarks tend to be introduced by “I/we were so surprised…”. Now, what is interesting here is not that partners are unaware that collaboration is about creating a premium offer, or that collaboration tends to stimulate creative and innovative solutions; but rather it is more the point about not quite being confident that results will be as good. In my view it is a case of a fledgling practice finding its rightful place in business. This is reflected in the fact that collaborations can also be expensive failures. As a result, and coupled with our own risk management logic, collaboration practitioners are reluctant to be bold with promises. Perhaps ‘promise less and deliver more’ is the default operating system that cautious participants prefer. No right or wrong way here to choose.

In my own research, I find that currently collaboration enjoys different degrees of acceptance in different industries. It is also very much divided across the types of organisations. This is significant for better understanding as to why certain collaborations produce ‘surprises’ and others do not. For instance, factors such as trust are critical in collaboration. It is hard to find an element of business functioning where trust plays such a foundational role as is the case with collaboration. We know that trust is vital in managing people, money etc. But we also know that in those areas such function is underpinned by a rich set of rules, guidelines, principles and compliances. Collaboration does not have that kind of luxury. While not totally devoid of those factors, it remains largely reliant on certain ‘codes’ that are about virtues and values. Collaboration thrives on a sense of shared goals that reconcile self-interest. As is neatly summed up by Ram Nidumolu (author of Two Birds in a Tree) and Jib Ellison (founder and CEO of Blue Skye), “without trust, most collaboration efforts are unlikely to survive, however noble the cause and worthy the participants”.

When reflecting on successful collaborations we should also examine those critical times where collaboration may have failed. It is useful to note that good outcomes may not be entirely due to the expertise of collaborating partners. An element of luck should not be underestimated if we are to learn how to collaborate better. Equally so, collaboration relies on so many subjective and intuitive factors (given that the majority of groups or people working together do not behave rationally 100% of the time). There are no small goals in collaboration. Or to put it differently, the collaboration process is as challenging when we try to work on a short term project, as it can be on a long term one, because it concerns us, the people who invest emotions and intellect into a relationship with others. A small project can elicit as much psychological stress precisely because of the human factor. Equally so, it can be a platform for displaying qualities that are not often practiced. Maybe collaboration’s biggest surprise is the way that it can draw out the best in us! When we invest trust and dedication, our own capabilities become the critical resource needed for any collaboration to work. Surprises from collaboration are little rewards and gauges that what we do matters. And if it matters then it should be done well.




There’s never a boring moment in the land of collaboration. If not collaborating on a project, one can always plot another opportunity. Now, that’s not too bad for engagement and satisfaction levels when it comes to competitive work. And, then there’s the bit about learning new things. For instance, what is the dollar value to the economy that comes from collaboration? Or, did you ever hear about ‘Collaboration Day’, or brilliant collaboration enhancing systems such as ‘teamability’, developed by behavioural scientist Dr Janice Presser and her colleagues in the USA. Forget Star Wars; collaboration is more edgy and offers a richer narrative that could make even Yoda green with envy. Having said that, I shall obey the sage’s advice – “Always pass on what you have learned.”



Teamability provides custom-tailored self-coaching


janice and colleagueFlash back to 1984. That’s when two behavioral scientists — Janice Presser and Jack Gerber — first sought a way to measure team dynamics. Fast-forward a quarter century of research and development later, and you get Teamability (a product created by The Gabriel Institute). Teamability is a technology of teaming. It measures how people perform in teams to improve quality and productivity, while also reducing turnover in the workplace…READ ON


How Collaboration Intelligence Can Tell You Who’s Going To Quit

Collaboration intelligence is the simple idea that we can learn much about our organizations by watching the way we work together. By looking at who is talking to whom, where calls and emails are going and coming from, and numerous other metrics, the real organizational chart emerges. By looking at the trends in such metrics we can figure out who is becoming a star and who is checking out. All of this gives us ideas and ways to optimize we never had before…READ ON


Collaboration: a distracting buzzword, or vital for business growth?

'Over the past twenty years, the digital age has helped change organisational structures.' Photograph: Getty Images/Tim Robberts

‘Over the past twenty years, the digital age has helped change organisational structures.’ Photograph: Getty Images/Tim Robberts

Collaboration is one of the buzzwords of the early 21st century. It has become a hot topic among early-stage companies, governments, artists, charities, startups and corporate behemoths. Many see collaboration as a super-pill that can cure organisations’ ills, regardless of the diagnosis. But is it truly as effective as we are led to believe? Small businesses and early-stage companies should be especially cautious. There is no denying that collaboration is fun, and often intellectually exhilarating; it can also be helpful in generating new ideas and developing projects…READ ON


Not just a buzzword: Collaboration is worth $46bn to the economy

australia collaboratingCollaboration was hot topic in Cannes and it’s one of the buzzwords currently making the most buzz. But it actually contributes to business performance and the economy, according to a report by Google and Deloitte. It’s worth $46 billion to the economy each year, they claim. That’s 3% of the Australian economy – roughly the same value as the entire creative industries which were calculated to contribute $45 billion to GDP in the Government’s Creative Industries Innovation Centre report in February. Within that, advertising and marketing were valued at $7.2 billion…READ ON


Building the Collaboration “Muscle”

While several months back, May’s funder convening in Aspen showed that more grantmakers recognize that no single organization can go it alone when it comes to addressing social issues that are complex, dynamic and intersecting. With efforts like collective impact initiatives that are seeking to transform whole systems, grantmakers can play an essential role in encouraging and supporting nonprofits to work together to achieve better results. To borrow a term that came up many times during the forum, grantmakers are essential partners when it comes to building a community’s “civic muscle.”..READ ON


Real World Collaboration in Times of Polarization

Problems in the United States aren’t getting any smaller, and it’s becoming harder to advance solutions—but that’s not because there aren’t good ideas with demonstrated impact. As the recent SSIR article, “Philanthropy in a Time of Polarization,” pointed out, increasingly all sectors—public, private, and nonprofit—are suffering from the effects of polarization in how we view the world, talk about ideas, and identify solutions. So it’s worth taking a moment to celebrate and learn from one of those rare moments when the US political system works the way it’s supposed to: Congress, aided by input and collaboration from the private and nonprofit sectors, negotiates and reaches a compromise that benefits millions of Americans…READ ON


Collaboration Day will be celebrated in the Observer area

A DAY of collaboration will show how working together is better than competing. Three local organisations who offer competitive services will come together tomorrow (Thursday, July 17) to show how collaborating can be better for business rather than being in competition. In celebration of International Collaboration Day, the Core Business Hub in Bognor Regis, OfficeFlex in Chichester and Selsey Works are offering free co-working space, where business people can hot desk, use the WiFi and connect with other local businesses while they work…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


Buddhist Economics: How to Stop Prioritizing Goods Over People and Consumption Over Creative Activity

buddhaMuch has been said about the difference between money and wealth and how we, as individuals, can make more of the latter, but the divergence between the two is arguably even more important the larger scale of nations and the global economy. What does it really mean to create wealth for people – for humanity – as opposed to money for governments and corporations?…READ ON


Balancing competition and collaboration: one needs the other

In a culture of ‘winner takes all’, collaboration may be for wimps; until competition becomes the dominant practice, that is. However with dominance also comes rot, which manifests in many areas of an enterprise. Of course, this is not case with all organisations, but history tells us it is an expected norm, not an anomaly. It’s only with the benefit of hindsight that management gurus are able to tell us why that is.

Credit: Collaboration at work is the new competition by Lea Green: Source: http://blog.pgi.com/2013/05/collaboration-at-work-is-the-new-competition/

Credit: Collaboration at work is the new competition by Lea Green: Source: http://blog.pgi.com/2013/05/collaboration-at-work-is-the-new-competition/


One habitually omitted feature of collaboration is that it can push competition to a new level. Parties that collaborate are less likely to cut corners. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that serious collaboration is more likely to increase transparency between parties, and thereby avoid behaviours which are akin to cutting corners and substandard performance. There is no lack of arguments that talk about the ‘dark side’ of collaboration. Sometimes, these are wrapped around ‘high costs’; sometimes they are about ‘complexity’, and often ‘risk’ factors are evoked. However, none have stopped many organisations from continuing to explore and fine tune their collaborative practices. As the discipline matures, so too does innovation in strategy become clearer. It all boils down to how well the job of collaboration is done.

How much any business can take advantage of collaboration depends a lot on the nature of relationships at the senior management level. For instance, it really matters how a CEO sees other senior managers in respect to their importance to competition and growth. Traditionally, and this has been the case for decades, typical relationship trust is developed between a CEO and his/her chief financial, operations and marketing staff. In all, a lot of trust is built around roles that are crafted around the capacity for immediate response. A senior R&D manager is rarely included in the inner circle. Staff who are long term focused lose out to the urgency of imminent challenges. It is interesting, as has been pointed out by the likes of Richard Foster, a former director at McKinsey, that these relationships are not universal. In Japan, for instance, R&D senior managers are held closer to the top of the decision making circle.

One doesn’t require a great deal of imagination to see the link between roles such as Chief Collaboration Officer and R&D or Chief Information Officer and the like. They are concerned with creating long term advantages and their capacity to execute organisational potential depends on relationship structures as much as anything else. The importance of the functional relationships explained above is vital for forming a sound basis on which a business can actually recognise that collaboration is a driver that allows exploration of comparative advantage as well as competitive advantage in relation to its collaborating partners. Put simply, collaboration can help in creating a new and unique business offer. This does not only have to be observed in the quality of the end product, but also in the process by which the product is created. We are increasingly recognising that consumers appreciate the story behind the product as much as they appreciate the product. This means two virtually identical products can be accepted by consumers in vastly different ways because they are produced differently. Creating the difference that matters in an enterprise’s competition strategy is what collaboration with competing partners can accomplish and that otherwise may be not possible.

The openness, trust and transparency of collaboration are precisely the factors that demand genuine competition, devoid of empty claims. As has been regularly observed, a shortage of trust and lack of fully shared purpose are well trodden paths to “what could have beens”. The idea of trust is supposed to be about being pushed to understand your own business better, as well as being focused on innovation which is contextualised by the unique set of circumstances each business operates by. Collaboration allows each party to reflect more critically at themselves because the proximity of a relationship with competing partners can easily cut through the usual spin that businesses rely on. Your collaborating partner is a partner who may play devil’s advocate, and that is priceless in any enterprise which does not want to be caught napping. Failing to recognise this puts collaboration at risk of being not much more than a networking function in a hotel lobby.


The payments industry (Paypal, etc.) is reaching to collaboration as a way of creating strategic disruption, while collaboration between doctors shows that the cost of cancer care can be lowered. These are some of the examples in this week’s selection worth noting and gleaning. However, what I particularly like is the growing focus on how SMEs can actually make the most of collaboration, both internally as a productivity measure and externally as a way of enhancing competitiveness. The mobility and agility that is required in collaboration is a comparative advantage for small business and not for profit sector agencies who are normally flatter in structure and less leveraged in terms of resources.


Investing in Collaboration

I attended “The Art of Collaboration” yesterday at the Commonwealth Club. Stewart Levine was an intelligent and witty presenter on the importance of collaboration skills in the workplace. I think the dude should teach at the Learning Annex but he’s probably got a full calendar working with Resolution Works and Mobile Business Academy. I learned enough about his themes to want to read his book Getting to Resolution because I must apply financial metrics to collaboration…READ ON


5 Everyday Ways to Collaborate in Your Small Business

Small business owners are known to be busy and often over-scheduled, which can make it very challenging to find time to network and collaborate with fellow small business owners. But for those who find the time and make collaboration a priority, the benefits are significant. Small business collaboration can be an effective way to expand your network, tackle challenges that are difficult to manage on your own, and learn from new experiences…READ ON


Collaboration can help everyone

Do you have a collaborative environment and culture in your small business? Do you and your employees like to mutually explore options on challenges you are facing? Are you encouraging your team to make collaboration a priority for solving problems? Collaboration in your small business can be helpful to everyone, and it will help you achieve better business results. Collaboration is defined as working with another person or group to achieve a shared goal…READ ON


Why Collaboration with Startups is the Future

US-BUSINESS-START UP INCUBATORIt seems like every week another major global corporation is partnering with an accelerator or acquiring an early-stage start-up. Nike, Kaplan, Pearson, Sprint, MasterCard, Lloyds of London, GE, Booz Allen, Coca-Cola, MedStar, and more have embraced collaboration with startups as a key element of their innovation strategy. These organizations aren’t alone. The 2014 GE Global Innovation Barometer survey reports that 85 percent of corporate respondents said that collaboration with startups and entrepreneurs will drive success for their organization in the future. What’s driving this trend? At its core, there are two key reasons why global brands are moving out of their comfort zone and embracing collaboration with new upstarts: defence and offense…READ ON


How collaborative credit can heal – rather than just disrupt – capitalism

Collaborative credit isn’t scarce like conventional currencies, and doesn’t come with interest demands. Photograph: Simon Cooper/PA

Collaborative credit isn’t scarce like conventional currencies, and doesn’t come with interest demands. Photograph: Simon Cooper/PA

The payments industry is awash with talk of disruption. Paypal may soon seem just a minor splash compared with the tidal wave of mobile payment apps and cryptographic currencies. Already more money is being transacted around the world each day by bitcoin than by Western Union. Cryptocurrencies, and specifically the distributed ledgers that maintain them, are a disruptive technology, in the classic sense of disruptive technologies that begin by appealing to niche markets but have the capacity to scale rapidly and make some of the products and services of incumbents less attractive…READ ON


NFP Collaboration Infographic


Study: Collaboration between docs, insurers lowers cost of cancer care

A UnitedHealth Group study found the cost of cancer care dropped when doctors were paid a lump sum per case and were showed how they compared with others treating the same cancers. The Minnetonka-based company says even with an increase in drug costs, total costs went down by a third. The study tracked not only costs but also 60 quality of care measures. The study’s lead author, UnitedHealth Senior Vice President Lee Newcomer, says the collaboration between doctors and the insurer made a major difference…READ ON


Getting Past the Barriers to Collaboration

Collaboration is quickly becoming a contender for buzzword of the year. The term is so widely used when identifying important tools for innovation, but its importance in the business world is still difficult to deny. For successful 21st century global enterprises, collaboration among employees and with external partners and customers is critical. The 2014 GE Global Innovation Barometer study indicates that nearly two-thirds of companies surveyed report some form of collaboration in their innovation process. That’s an impressive number. But if collaboration is so universally recognized as a good thing, why don’t all companies embrace it? There are many barriers that anti-collaborationists can point to, but no excuse is defensible in a 21st century company…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


The Daily Routines Of 26 Of History’s Most Creative Minds

daily routine

Perhaps what stands out most is how few of these creative people had good old-fashioned day jobs. Writer Franz Kafka was the only one in this group who had a profession unrelated to his creative field: he was, famously and miserably, a bureaucrat at the Worker’s Accident Insurance Institute in the Kingdom of Bohemia (not as cool as it sounds). Philosopher Immanuel Kant lectured at a university in the mornings, American writer Kurt Vonnegut taught at a school, composer Wolfgang Mozart gave music lessons here and there, and Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, treated patients. But the rest spent virtually all their waking hours–in some cases, hours most people spend sleeping–devoted to their creative and intellectual work…READ ON



Enterprising Collaborative (EC): a response to ‘unresolved uncertainty’

The first decade of the new millennium has brought a level of social, economic, environmental, technological and political changes in an aggregated degree and to a whole new level previously not witnessed. With the Y2K bug fever, societies across the globe became explicitly aware of the fact that the process of globalisation culminated in new levels of threats and opportunities in equal measure. With the rise of social media and corporate giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube to name but a few, people all over the world realised the enormous potential and power of technology to solve problems on a local level. The first decade of the millennium was also marked by an unprecedented level of fatal natural disasters which proved to be costly in both social and financial terms.

Additionally, geo-political factors such as the number of protracted war conflicts, rise of BRIC countries as a new global economic force and the 2008 GFC have all contributed to the emergence of a variety of cultural adaptations to what may appear as a never-ending process of disruption. It is with that heightened degree of disruption and instability that new forms of social innovation started to emerge across the world. For instance, the rise of social enterprise has been one of the adaptive strategies that communities the world over have sought to apply to counteract the myriad of local social and economic challenges.

business roundtable on collaboration

business roundtable on collaboration

Social enterprises have now become an accepted and reasonably well understood model of value creation. In a way, social enterprise has established itself as a language that bridges the gap between the not for profit sector and the corporate sector and governments as a suitable replacement for ageing welfare models. The established difficulties in communication between the private, public and not for profit sectors have, over time, become a critical source of tensions, impacting on productivity and the bearing desired by the funding parties. However, this has started to change for the better, albeit with limited results, with a common conversation now being about an approach to delivering services using a standard business model structure.

A considerable number of social enterprises were spawned by entrepreneurial minds leaving the corporate world in search of more meaningful engagement. As the practice became noticed for its capacity to create socio-economic impact and its ability to maintain financial independence from government funding, an increasing number of not for profit community organisations joined the movement. Some governments, such as in the UK, became increasingly convinced that the role of government in solving local, social challenges may be better served by walking away from paternalistic welfare and embracing new ideas of partnership and collaboration with the social enterprise community. While it is fair to say that the transition has not yet reached a defining moment where societal ills, such as homelessness, social isolation of vulnerable groups, youth unemployment etc., are within acceptable levels, it is increasingly becoming clear that there is no turning back.

In the Australian context, the budget deficit, slow recovery, negligible economic growth and continued complex social issues across metropolitan, regional and remote communities, have all created a sense of necessity for further innovation in the way the not for profit sector ensures its sustainability. An emerging narrative of organisational sustainability has further evolved into critical examination of the feasibility of the not for profit sector’s reliance on government funding, which, in real terms, has started to fragment and decrease. Corporate support through CSR and sponsorship has also undergone transformation since the 2008 GFC. These factors have opened the door for not for profits to explore previous practices in a new light.

I believe that a transformative process of re-designing organisational capacity and approach to making a socio-economic impact at ‘street’ level can be achieved by what can best be described as an ‘enterprising collaborative’ (EC) model. An enterprising collaborative is a model of value creation that amplifies the social enterprise business model with collaboration as the central strategy. The concept of an enterprising collaborative is an innovative approach to creating opportunities for not for profits, governments and the private sector to create ‘collaborative advantage’ by forming strategic collaborative partnerships with clear governance and management structures. In essence, an enterprising collaborative seeks to create a resilient form of value creation with lasting impacts at the local level.

An enterprising model is multi-function platform which incorporates Collaboration as a Service (CaaS) strategy, with CSR and social entrepreneurialism. Therefore EC is simultaneously:

•A community hub

•Shared space

•A learning and networking space

•A commercial, not for profit project base

• A business mentoring hub

• A brokerage/curator of services

• A community brokerage hub, as well as

• An incubator of new ideas

keep calam and start collaboratingAt the same time, its capacity to support the range of activities is based on a collaboration with private sector and government stakeholders who may enter into a commercial arrangement whereby exchanges of service are of mutual benefit.

Local private sector business, local governments and community organisations alike can thus come into a collaborative space and explore and initiative projects that build on exchange of resources and expertise focusing on achieving a common goal. While it is expected that the initiative will retain particular local community flavour its capacity to engage and collaborate with larger state or national entities will be equally possible.

The combine effect of the entrepreneurial approach to sustainability, collaborative strategy of implementation and the philosophical values of corporate social responsibility forming the basis for the enterprising collaborative provides fresh and promising way forward.


I find myself often repeating one thing: ‘if collaboration does not change you then you are probably not doing it right”. Every time I say that in a meeting, workshop, strategic planning session etc. I realise I need to underscore the importance of the link between the change and collaboration. As for change, most people approach it with a degree of apprehension. No matter how much we try to reassure people around us that change is for the better, the reality is that there are deeper forces at work and words must give way to clever systems and a lot of work. One thing about collaboration and change is that if not properly governed it can lead to fatigue and stress. Both are manageable but it means that setting up the governance and management structure best suited for a particular organisation or project is the golden rule. The following selection covers a variety of factors that may be useful in thinking through some of those planning factors.



The Death of the Cubicle — and the Killers Are Collaboration and Innovation .  Source: http://www.ere.net/2012/05/21/the-death-of-the-cubicle-and-the-killers-are-collaboration-and-innovation/

The Death of the Cubicle — and the Killers Are Collaboration and Innovation .
Source: http://www.ere.net/2012/05/21/the-death-of-the-cubicle-and-the-killers-are-collaboration-and-innovation/

Eight Ideas for Designing a More Collaborative Workspace

Collaborative workspaces are becoming increasingly popular in businesses, and many startups and new businesses are embracing these kinds of spaces for their benefits to productivity and the bottom line. Members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, offered their tips and ideas on designing collaborative workspaces—valuable for any business looking to increase employee interaction and happiness…READ ON


Common workspace grows collaboration among companies

Over mid-morning coffee and doughnuts one day last week, about a dozen people brainstormed ways to help each other and handed out kudos for the past week’s successes. But it wasn’t your typical staff meeting. Those gathered all work for different companies – many ventures that they founded – but they share a common workplace: The Loft at Start It Up Delaware. They moved in to a newly renovated space this month, another milestone in a project that intends to nurture and support people with an entrepreneurial mission…READ ON


Cooking up Change: Recipes for successful collaborations

cookingJoin Forum for the Future and Partners on the afternoon of 16 September in Central London for a hands-on event exploring what makes collaborations work. Progressive organisations are increasingly turning to collaboration to create significant change. But effective collaborations need the right mix of ingredients, the skills to combine them, and a certain alchemy in the process. You’ll delve into some recipes for collaboration that have been tried and tested by Forum and our Partners. You’ll hear lessons from seasoned collaborations (including the Sustainable Shipping Initiative and the Community Energy Coalition), with frank sharing about what it takes to start and sustain global change…READ ON


The Art of Successful Workplace Collaboration

On paper, collaborations have a lot to offer. By putting our heads together with others, we’re attacking a challenge with greater intellectual firepower. The more perspectives we bring to the table, the more likely we are to eliminate blind spots, unearth creative solutions, and minimize mistakes. The logic seems irrefutable. So it’s surprising that studies on collaborations have yielded mixed results. First, brainstorming was shown to undermine creativity. A closer look at the literature reveals that brainstorming is hardly the sole culprit. At times, it’s the collaboration itself that diminishes the quality of our work…READ ON


Innovative Collaboration to Secure Water, Boost Economy

The Nature Conservancy and partners are excited to announce the launch of a groundbreaking project on Tuesday, July 29, that will secure drinking water, boost the state’s economy, add jobs and improve the quality of life for residents of northern New Mexico. The Rio Grande Water Fund is an innovative mechanism that will coordinate and leverage fundraising efforts from public and private donors. The Water Fund will support a 20-year plan to restore roughly 1.7 million acres of overgrown forests around the Rio Grande River and its tributaries – from Taos to Albuquerque – which are at high risk for damaging wildfires…READ ON


Build Bridges Beyond Your Corporate Collaboration Island

Modern enterprises are never insular. They work and interact with developers, resellers, suppliers, and customers, all of whom represent the extended enterprise. Yet, many keep IT systems closed by firewall and policy, and sometimes similarly so for employees as well, even when they need to work with people externally. Information access may need to be restricted, but limiting people to interacting solely by email with the outside world severely limits their ability to communicate and build a shared context of understanding. The one place you should support interaction is in the collaboration system…READ ON


How to Avoid Collaboration Fatigue

It’s nearly impossible to escape a meeting or conference call without someone touting the virtues of collaboration. After all, researchers have linked collaboration to increased innovation, and many have compellingly argued for collaboration’s role in better leadership performance. Collaboration just feels right — like a big hug or a warm puppy. But collaboration also has an overlooked dark side…READ ON



…and now for something completely different…


How To Ask To Pick Someone’s Brain — Without Being Annoying

When you reach out to people you admire, asking them to chat about their careers, you probably think it’s an obvious decision for them to help you. After all, who doesn’t want to use their hard-won expertise to catapult other people to success? Well, I’ve got some bad news for you: Agreeing to meet up with you is not an easy decision for these people. In fact, in many cases, they would much rather say no…READ ON


Collaboration: An emerging dominance in disaster resilience

Over several decades, disaster management has matured into a profession that at once borrows from a range of disciplines, offers its own unique dimension and lends new insights to other disciplines.  This dynamic has become a mainstay of the policy and practice of disaster management as it is applied today.  Globally, the practice seems similar, but the policy framework, capacities and the evolution of the discipline varies significantly.  For instance, the Australian policy model favours the PPRR framework administered by each State as a lead authority, whereas European countries lean to the C2 (command and control) approach, which Australia and most of the USA has abandoned.  While the differences do not end here, the importance of this dichotomy on a global scale may have some implications here in Australia due to the different manner in which disaster resilience is framed and developed.

world disasters map

It is vital to acknowledge that disaster management in Australia is legislated and is included in the obligations to which Federal, State and Local governments hold themselves accountable.  On the other hand, disaster resilience is not part of the legislated framework, which then clearly presents a major gap in the way disaster resilience can be built in Australia.  It equally presents a major challenge in the way Australia can be an acknowledged contributor to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), the leading global disaster resilience blueprint which is due to for review in 2015.

The emergence of the disaster resilience narrative over the past 15 years has been a slow process. It has been challenged by both the policy and practice arms of disaster management jargon in Australia, despite some outwardly significant projects aiming to establish a disaster resilience dialogue as an integral part of the way the country deals with natural disasters whose frequency has created disruptions previously not witnessed. The Rudd Government introduced Australia’s first national funding program, the Natural Disaster Resilience Program, which provided over $70 million to states who then subsidised this to create a four year resilience funding program aiming to jump-start the development of a resilience culture in Australia. In early 2011, only a few weeks after the historic Queensland floods and just days after Cyclone Yasi, COAG adopted the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience. Since then there has been an emergence of disaster resilience portfolios within some state governments as a further indicator that disaster resilience is serious.

However, despite the progress made and some clear evidence about a range of projects aimed at building disaster resilience, the real impacts are not clearly visible. Communities across Australia are not consistently engaged with the discourse of disaster resilience. Research in the field is not funded to an extent that reflects funding available to other areas. For instance, Australian researchers are still more likely to obtain research funding for studies in movies, music trends and popular culture, than in disaster resilience. The public continues to confuse disaster management with disaster resilience to the point where a successful narrative of ‘shared responsibility’ as defined in the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience is rendered meaningless in everyday life.

cross city collaboration

The emergence of collaboration as a strategy for progressing disaster resilience is in part a result of the above challenges.  While the idea of collaboration in this area has been mentioned for a number of years, there remains a significant lack of understanding as to which model of collaboration would be most applicable.  Little is discussed in respect to collaboration governance and management.  As an emergent discipline, collaboration remains poorly understood even at the highest levels of leadership.  In most cases, collaboration is reduced to a form of partnership which is in fact more akin to ‘co-operation’.  While the discipline of collaboration has evolved in North America and to some degree in Europe, Australia remains largely wedded to the idea of collaboration as the practice of working together, which is part and parcel of modern management.  The unfortunate side effect of such an attitude is that little is understood about collaboration as a practice, its implications as a disruptive strategy, its relations to corporate laws, its associated risk management and the impact measures required.

Collaboration is emerging as the lead candidate for genuine change in the way the society handles the threatening cost of disasters.  While disaster management planning is mostly undertaken in the confines of government agencies, disaster resilience has become more of a contentious field which has disrupted what has largely been a government controlled area. Many sections of the community have found disaster response a playing field for a host of objectives, such as enacting concerns regarding global climate change, political activism, and a rare opportunity to connect with communities and build social capital.  In other words, disasters have allowed spontaneous emergence of activities led by local communities whose concerns were in part fed by the traditional ‘top down’ approach in terms of response and recovery.  Communities were in fact passive and often unable to engage.  It’s as if they were at the mercy of a formal and overly bureaucratic system of response.  New technologies, globalisation, the emergence of Gen Y and other factors have in fact enabled communities (which include local business and social communities alike) to be more entrepreneurial and demonstrate a degree of ownership when it comes to dealing with disasters.

The unfortunate thing is slow recognition and even slower pragmatic collaboration.  While some developments have taken place, the current state of play is far from a sustainable strategy and is characterised by many factors.  One very clear and standout feature is the dichotomy between the apparent attempt by political leaders and lead agencies across governments to ‘appeal’ to the public for a sense of ‘shared responsibility’, while at the same time there is no formal mechanism for the public to access resources needed to carry out that role.  Public resources (taxes) are still maintained within the confines of government agencies and are often further increased by additional levies and donation programs sponsored by governments (e.g. the Premier’s Appeal etc.).  The mismatch does not resonate effectively with the general public and therein lies a major challenge; ensuring that there is a clear narrative relevant to all stakeholders (from individual members of the public onwards).



The process of re-imagining the way forward requires integration of two distinct narratives.  Disaster management and disaster resilience are fundamentally two sides of the same coin.  One is formal and in a large part legislated; the other is informally organised.  It is critical that a common collaboration language be agreed upon, with special focus given to devising a formula of interoperability that recognises the capacities and limitations of both sides.  In practical terms this means that the cost of disasters is going to continue to rise until there is a clear understanding that, in the Queensland scenario under current arrangements, the Police force is able to order a person/family to evacuate their home, but nobody has the authority to order the same person/family to clean their gutters before the storm season and perform other activities that would minimise risk and damage.  In that example the two parts are left unconnected.

Collaboration is likely to receive a further boost as a strategy for the way forward in the next year’s review of the Hyogo Framework for Action, in part because disasters are a massive problem and require a collaborative approach, built on a multidisciplinary base.  Disaster resilience is only possible either by a radical increase in public spending, or a collaborative strategy that better connects existing resources.  The likelihood and practicality of the former is hardly a realistic option.  Collaboration remains a clear path which, with careful structuring, can start creating a culture of resilience which would not challenge the established role of government agencies and NFP organisations, but would require better integration of the general public, research community, business sector and a variety of disciplines, which to date have only provided casual support.




teamworkJust when we begin to understand collaboration, new concepts such as CaaS (Collaboration as a Service) start making their way to the podium, and begin cultivating their game changing capacity. Some long standing concerns such as managing IP in collaboration are being solved as enterprising leaders and governments realise that collaboration is a paradigm shift disrupting everything before itself. Companies are increasingly accepting that collaboration is a discipline requiring a COO (chief collaboration officer) as part of the senior team. The practice of collaboration is also fast changing workplaces, and new expectations are being set for businesses across sectors. So how is this going to play out in your business? Winning contracts, increasing sales, growing and being on the path to a thriving enterprise comes with being able to read the future fast; just one of many factors emerging and being embraced by those who are serious about being competitive. In any event, this week’s selection should help in setting the scene for the first step towards working out where your business is likely to fit in the new paradigm.



Dr. Mark Adkins Named Chief Collaboration Officer for ThinkTank

At ThinkTank, Dr. Adkins will help develop the company’s next generation of cloud-based Collaboration-as-a-Service (CaaS) applications, working with key partners, including Deloitte, PwC, and EY, to drive accelerated outcomes with clients. He will also liaise directly with major ThinkTank clients, including Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and military organizations, to ensure the greatest impact from ThinkTank deployment across their core processes as well as the support and advancement of the global enterprise collaboration research that ThinkTank continues to engage in…READ ON


Collaboration is Changing the Future of Work – Are You Ready?

Internal collaboration (which is sometimes referred to as Enterprise Social Media) and change management have an interesting symbiotic relationship. Well orchestrated change planning is one of the biggest obstacles of collaboration.   Conversely, collaboration is one of the most powerful tools there is for leading any change (think Arab Spring.)   Organizations that get Collaboration implementations right, get a leg up on agility – the ability to thrive in our always changing environment. Adapting to new collaborative practices will soon be essential to keep up with all the other change that we are faced with…READ ON


Collaboration is inevitable, so do it professionally

telstraIn a recent posting on Telstra’s blog, CEO David Thodey extolled the importance of communication and collaboration among the company’s workforce. “When it comes to internal communication use everything you have available – the company intranet, social media, internal newsletters, town-hall style meetings, video, face-to-face, online collaboration tools,” he said. And he revealed that Telstra had gained enormous value from being able to collaborate online using Yammer to canvass views, share ideas, and connect customer facing with non-customer facing staff…READ ON


Igniting innovation: Collaboration, prioritisation and analytics

Choose wisely: Deciding on which innovation path to take should be based on its novelty, the return on investment and the company's ability to deliver the final product. Photo used with permission from GE.

Choose wisely: Deciding on which innovation path to take should be based on its novelty, the return on investment and the company’s ability to deliver the final product. Photo used with permission from GE.

Keeping a business afloat often requires technopreneurs to exercise discretion in order to avoid risks which may threaten the well being of an organisation. However, there are certain risks worth taking, and those associated with collaboration would be among them. “The number one collaboration risk that people tend to mention is intellectual property protection,” says Dr Xiangli Chen, vice president and chief technology officer of General Electric (GE) Research and Development (R&D) Centre in Shanghai, China. READ ON


Collaboration produces breakthrough in workforce development

A remarkable development in adult workforce development will begin on July 7, when 15 job candidates from Spherion Staffing Agency begin a 56 hour class in basic IRT training at North Central State’s Kehoe Center. All 15 members of the class are expected to complete the training and receive their certificates in a graduation ceremony, also at Kehoe, in the ground floor reception area. It will begin at noon, on Friday, July 18. For many years, local Spherion officials and Richland County Commissioners Workforce Staff have been working to establish an effective transition model that would move unemployed “temporary workers” from temporary work assignment into full time employees at companies where they have been assigned…READ ON


Why social tools and collaboration are key to your business

social media and collaborationAs the shift to an information-based economy has taken over much of the world’s workforce, it follows that the tools people use to work should evolve accordingly. Digital ways of working now takes over two thirds of the working day, demonstrating a shift in how people work. As businesses continue to adapt to changing habits, they must ensure that workplace productivity and effective collaboration keep pace. A recent report from Forrester predicted that tablet use will triple to 905 million devices for work and personal use globally by 2017, pointing to the reality of a growing mobile workforce…READ ON


Analytics, Collaboration Aid Good Decision Making

Strategic decision-makers are armed with plenty of data, but they’re facing challenges in making the best use of it, according to a recent survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit and Applied Predictive Technologies (APT). The accompanying report, “Decisive Action: How Businesses Make Decisions and How They Could Do It Better,” indicates that business-benefiting outcomes remain limited by office politics and a lack of collaboration among those who depend on their “gut feel” to make decisions. But this approach will no longer suffice in an era when data analytics is having a profound, positive impact on organizations. That said, the pursuit of useful metrics presents its own formidable challenges…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


7 weird things money does to your brain

businessman_moneyMoney is packed with meaning, and it impacts our personalities, our relationships, and how we think. As you might imagine, a lot of stuff is going on in our brains when we think about money, and some of it is surprising. Researchers in the emerging field of neuroeconomics are drawing on psychology, neuroscience, and economics to give us picture of the human brain on money. Let’s take a look…READ ON

Five things that collaboration will change in the future: or, daring to look into future scenarios


the futureI see collaboration as much a part of present business and social drivers as much as one of the critical pillars of resilient society in the future. In my opinion, a resilient society goes beyond sustainability. In that context, I am willing to share what I consider to be five possible ‘things’ that may change around us, even the meaning of life.


1. The end of a ‘boss’ as the person on top of the rewards ladder. We are going to see the established standard of a ‘boss’ being paid the most become super-rare and, in the best companies, non-existent. Example: the best sport clubs in the world – let’s take soccer. It is expected that the best teams naturally win and earn money for their club through their players, many of whom earn more than their coach. It is the quality of collaboration in the team that makes the difference. The coach sets the scene, however the moments of inspiration, motivation and all other aligned factors are not in hands of the coach, nor manager, but are dependent on how well the players put together various factors in each moment of the game. Creating value then is not dependent on a hierarchical structure (as much as it will be a critical factor) but on the capacity of a collaborative approach.


2. Products and services that are not produced collaboratively will be deemed substandard as they will reflect a lack of the quality that collaborative input offers. Consumers want a greater say in the way products are made and will demand recognition for it. Tastes, trends and attitudes will reflect a broader shift in a socio-cultural sense, whereby globally connected consumers will expand on their desires to be creators rather than passive recipients of goods and services.


3. Products and services created through collaboration will increasingly become public good. After a certain period of ownership, companies will find it more useful to then make their IP and product freely available rather than hoping to continue to exploit it through royalties etc. This will be driven by rapidly changing tastes and attitudes which will inevitably lead to new expectations on the side of consumers. Another critical driver will be greater demand for the sources of material that can be further innovated. The idea of copyright and trade secrets will be redundant at the expense of concepts such as ‘copy-left’. The total sum of complexities will render ‘big solutions’ impossible to implement. Instead, rapid adaptations to regular disruptions will be better served by a capacity to connect and collaborate in variety of settings.


4. The nature and system of education as we know it will disappear. If we think that MOOCs are disruptive, we have not yet seen real change. We are approaching a time when ‘package-deal’ education products such as a Bachelors or Masters degrees will be like teaching people how to take pictures with a box camera in an age of digital wrist watch devices capable of producing images of National Geographic quality. While not expected to be extinct, package deals will serve a small niche market of specialised jobs. Vast amounts will work at a Cloud computing type level – students will enrol in a degree but never really complete it because study will be undertaken continuously in intervals that are relevant to students at given moments. Instead of buying software, you will pay a monthly fee which keeps you up to date permanently. Another impact on education will be the emergence of revision literature that will explain history, science and all other disciplines in a new narrative that resembles current needs. In other words, we will learn how societies collaborated to prosper more than we’ll learn how they fought each other. The very idea of what it means to be ‘educated’ will be replaced by other capacities humans need to thrive; being resilient, and cultivating a capacity to learn fast,


5. We are going to collectively start to get more from Abraham Maslow’s sixth need that will only be satisfied through collaboration. The importance of intelligence fitness will not depend on the amount of exclusive information we can access and how well we integrate it in daily life, but rather on the way we read patterns, maintain a life-long capacity to be curious, be imaginative and able to form new ideas, create new solutions and adapt in the age of expectation of change. Maslow’s little known inclination to add a 6th need to his hierarchy of five identified levels of needs has started to make much more sense in the past couple of decades as we move into what some have termed ‘the fifth society’, and others call ‘the dream society’. The sixth need is interpreted as being about ‘idealisation’, where, despite the current hype about narcissistic-like behaviours, purpose sought ‘beyond oneself’ is not far off being a driving force in human behaviour.


Imagine you learn about a job opening that you feel is almost a dream come true. The type of job that is something you wanted for a long time. Then at the interview you find that you are being asked so many question that really do not relate to your extensive experience and long list of education qualifications. Most of the questions tend to be about your capacity as a collaborator. Now, this may be in the distant future for some, but I’m leaning towards a potential scenario where collaboration will soon be the skill that an employer wants to see before they check anything else a candidate has to offer. There are many reasons for it; one simple factor is that collaboration is complex and indicates the dawn of a new era; workers in a new scenario where value creation is a not the sole act of a qualified genius. This week’s selection includes pieces that in my view confirm this clearly; starting with the first article by an education policy specialist, Tony Donohoe, for Irish newspaper Independent where collaboration is identified as one of the three factors defining the future of the world of work.



Collaboration and love of learning key skills in changing world of work

What will jobs look like in the next decade and what skills will be in greatest demand? The truth is we don’t know. Just over 10 years ago, Facebook didn’t exist. Ten years earlier, we didn’t have the web. The future is highly uncertain, constantly changing and ultimately unknowable. However, organisations such as the UK Commission for Skills (see panel) outline trends, disruptions and scenarios that provide clues to help us to develop a plausible picture of the future world of work. Interpreting these trends also helps us to define some of the skills and attributes that may be in demand. We have narrowed down the list to just three: an appetite for continuous learning, individual responsibility and the ability to collaborate…READ ON


Does Your Team Suffer From ‘Connectile Dysfunction’?

start upsAccording to recent research by Shikhar Ghosh, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, based on data from more than 2,000 companies, 75% of venture-backed startups fail. Of course, there are different ways to define failure, but losing all the money you’ve put in – or losing your dream – certainly qualifies. Some might use shorter-term benchmarks, like achieving sales and revenue targets within a given timeframe, in which case an even higher percentage of funded startups would probably wind up sporting a big red F…READ ON


The Urgency for Academic-Business Collaboration: Establishing a Global Food System Roadmap

food sustainability can be solved through collaboration...

food sustainability can be solved through collaboration…

Universities, colleges, technical schools, and research laboratories have vital roles to play in improving the ‘food and agriculture system’. However, it is not reasonable to expect that any single institution will have all the necessary expertise and resources required to meet these emerging challenges. Rather, each academic/research institution must recognize its role and responsibility in the complex system if they are to contribute to creating innovative solutions for global food and nutrition security. For example, universities that focus on research, education, and outreach related to food production likely also have strengths in agriculture economics, and agriculture policy programs; but they may be less strong in food safety and nutrition, or in public health….READ ON


Innovation and Collaboration Cross Borders

cross borderGEW hosts from more than 140 countries collaborate closely with one another each March at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, but that isn’t the only time they connect. Regional meetups like the recent one in Athens bring together smaller groups and individual host representatives travel long distances to form partnerships, share experiences and best practices, apply for joint projects and facilitate business connections. Over the past several months, there have been a number of examples of that individual, country-to-country collaboration…READ ON


Collaboration and education key to fighting cybercrime

cyberWith the threat landscape constantly shifting and evolving, the fight against cybercrime is never truly over. Organisations are therefore under pressure to stay updated with the latest online threats and must work incessantly to mitigate the risk they pose to their business. To find out what areas of defence companies need to be prioritising amid the current threat landscape, we spoke to Malwarebytes’ Malware Intelligence Analyst, Chris Boyd…READ ON


Local collaboration and innovation

Businesses can innovate by collaborating with partners in different industries, or with researchers locally or internationally. Collaboration can give businesses an advantage in the market by providing access to the latest research, technology, or experts in the field. By forming partnerships, business owners get knowledge from outside of their own experience, with the potential to grow. Read on to find out more about local and international collaboration, where to find more information and what collaboration can do for your business…READ ON


Cultivating Collaboration: Plantory Grows Into New Space for Budding Nonprofits

Some of Lexington’s nonprofit agencies now have a lot more space to grow ideas, work together and share experiences, all while making their money stretch just a bit further. The Plantory, Lexington’s nonprofit center for incubation, co-working and cross-sector collaboration, is expanding from its previous offices at 560 E. Third St., where it housed about 15 to 20 full-time members and countless part-timers…READ ON


7 Reasons Collaboration Breaks Down

Great ideas come in halves, these are the words I hear often from my LGL en Español partner, Kay Valenzuela. I believe it. Work is enhanced by true collaboration. One of the best parts of my entrepreneurial journey has been the amazing collaborations, in writing, in business, in shared passions. I’ve got four deep collaborations in process now, including writing a children’s picture book with Alli Polin and the launch of a Parent’s Guide to Leadership (a free ebook downloadable from the sidebar.) I’ve also had a few false starts. Here are my lessons learned. I look forward to hearing yours…READ ON


Nigeria: Unicef Advocates Collaboration for Improved Girls’ Life

A specialist on girls’ education has observed that a joint and collaborative undertaking by the federal government, the Department for International Development (DfID) and UNICEF initiative has a broad goal of contributing to the improvement of quality life of girls and women in Nigeria. The specialist, Hajiya Mairama Dikwa, hinged her observation on the implementation of two phases of Girls Education Project (GEP) of UNICEF between 2005 – 2008 in six states of Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Katsina, Niger and Sokoto…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


Everyone Needs to Be a Futurist

futuristAs the economic climate changes and competition grows, today’s organizations are being consistently challenged to focus on meeting short-term objectives, such as quarterly numbers, while fundamentally transforming the way they do business. While most of us work on the day-to-day operational details and focus on hitting the metrics, we often assume that there must be someone in the company that is thinking about the future. Whether we assume it’s the board, senior executives or perhaps the corporate strategy team, we somewhat believe that somewhere above our level, both the foresight and plans exist to stave disruption, capitalize on new opportunities and figure out exactly how the company needs to change to either survive or achieve the next paradigm of growth…READ ON

Mood contagion: choose wisely for winning collaboration results

Leadership literature has delved deeply into all forms of behavioural factors that make and distinguish better leaders. The role of leadership in any form of business activity is acknowledged but not necessarily always best applied. Some complexities of leadership are at times at the mercy of our obsession to cut corners and seek simple formulas. Nevertheless, there is no lack of ongoing interest in the topic of leadership and its role in collaboration is something I have addressed on numerous occasions in previous blogs.

mood contagion is a factor in collaboration

mood contagion is a factor in collaboration

This time I wanted to explore the role of ‘mood contagion’ and collaboration. It is now well understood that the behaviour of key people can energise or deflate the performance of the team. Mood contagion is also referred to as ‘emotional contagion’ in social media research which posits the idea that emotions expressed on social media influence the mood of others. In the work environment context, the key to good performance is that groups of people working together should have a ‘shared’ rather than ‘fragmented’ mood. The difference in performance outcomes is not negligible, and ignoring the difference, no matter how trivial it may seem at times, is poor business practice that no serious HR professional would allow to happen on their watch. Those who are interested in this area of performance would easily find case studies that show a major productivity increase based on the improvement a group leader makes in their own behaviours. Mood contagion is a major factor and it makes sense to consider it in the context of collaboration.

The idea of a synchronised, so to speak, mood and emotional state of a team may seem a bit ‘big brother-ish’ and may initially be perceived as a much too much engineered or synthetic way to enhance performance. It would be perhaps too unrealistic to seek, or demand, that members of a team enter into a particular state of mind as a precondition to perform well. We each value our own individuality and freedom to ‘feel’ how we like. So, to put that to rest, as a collaboration strategist I would not recommend strategies that ‘interfere’ with the emotional flow of individual collaborators. What I would suggest instead is gaining a far deeper understanding of the emotional differences and dynamics that occur in the process of collaboration. In other words, collaborating partners need to factor this angle of value creation into the collaborative model they choose.

The role of a leader in a collaborative does not have to be the same as in a traditional organisation. Collaboratives are possible with different governance and management structures that do not fall under traditional corporate models which is precisely one of their advantages. A collaborative approach to value creation could also be the key to the way mood contagion is managed or to be precise; harnessed, for added advantage. The vital point to remember is that moods and emotional states of individuals in a workplace are not static and there are way too many permutations occurring in any given time, at any given moment. That complexity is managed by HR directors in different ways and line managers do not shy away from turning a blind eye to it. Now, the right solution is ultimately dependent on individual business strategies and models. In the collaboration context this should not be ignored. The lack of formality that is clear in traditional organisation structures is what collaborations ideally should take advantage of. In fact, one of the hallmarks of any collaboration is the way it goes about exploiting all the disruptive features of the collaborative structure.

So, while mood contagion is left to its self in traditional organisations, in a collaborative setting this perceived challenge is unique opportunity and thus is embraced as a resource which can provide competitive advantage. As a little experiment I advise you to take note of your own mood and note when it changes and how often it changes at work. Then examine how often those changes occurred as a result of your peers’ or managers’ mood changes. As simple as it may seem, the insight may surprise you as you may notice how your performance is also different. Having said that, do not overdo it. Enjoy your work.





Nike company executives who have managed to get their company noticed again for being innovation leaders, believe that ‘to disrupt, you must go all in’. Mark Hampton, the inventor of the HiLo Lens, believes that collaboration has been critical to his success but has some words of warning to budding entrepreneurs. Michael Krigsman reminds us that collaboration is not a “thing” but an outcome of shared activities. If you hope to make profits immediately after innovation then forget it, argues Scott Anthony in a Harvard Business Review blog. Martin Dohmen, Chief Strategy Officer, MSLGROUP explains the link between reputation and collaboration in the new business order. Business tourism experts in New Zealand believe that collaboration is the way to go in the current market. And finally, some argue that planning the future is pointless and instead we’re better off embracing uncertainty.

If some of these points seem interesting , then check out this week’s selection.


Nike: The No. 1 Most Innovative Company Of 2013

FUELBAND  Nike embedded 120 LED lights into the FuelBand, modeling the display after a retro scoreboard. Illustrations By Pete Sucheski

Nike embedded 120 LED lights into the FuelBand, modeling the display after a retro scoreboard.
Illustrations By Pete Sucheski


Stefan Olander , head of Nike’s three-year-old Digital Sport division, is watching a group of his engineers hack an experiment together. They’re using a pair of Nike trainers with embedded sensors. The sensors measure pressure created when the shoes, which happen to be on the feet of a lanky product manager named Brandon Burroughs, strike the ground…READ ON







Collaboration enriches entrepreneur’s innovation

Innovation and entrepreneurship can be lonely. That’s why Mark Hampton, the Kiwi inventor behind the HiLo Lens, believes collaboration has been critical to his success so far. “Being a sole founder was one of my greatest hurdles. I’ve collaborated with a lot of freelancers to bounce ideas off. Publishing what I was doing before having product available was a small risk, but led to great collaborations.” But where collaboration is concerned, Hampton has a warning for budding entrepreneurs. “Be wary of any advice from people who don’t know your market or your technology as well as you do. Find people who know more about the market and technology than you do”…READ ON


Collaboration: six mistakes to avoid

‘Collaboration’, broadly defined as two or more organisations working together in partnership, continues to be a hot topic in our sector. The SVA Consulting Quarterly article in issue 6, Getting our act together explored some of the reasons for collaborating and the overall challenges faced by organisations embarking on the journey. Be it to increase impact, improve funding or reduce costs, many organisations are looking for opportunities to collaborate…READ ON


SAP Jam: Ready for enterprise collaboration

Collaboration across organizational departments and silos should be a foundation component for many business transformation initiatives. For this reason, many enterprise software vendors have released products intended to streamline communication among employees, business partners, and others who work together. Enterprise collaboration. Historically, many of these tools have offered a so-called “collaboration layer” that is disconnected from specific processes and feels like a bolted-on appendage. For example, a typical collaboration layer might consist of fields embedded inside a financial application that show information about the team members working together. It’s not collaboration so much as a reference library. As another example, some early collaboration products did nothing more than embed chat capabilities inside existing applications…READ ON


No Innovation Is Immediately Profitable

Every company should dedicate a portion of its innovation portfolio to the creation of new growth through disruptive innovation. But companies need to think carefully about who makes the decisions about managing the investment in those businesses. If the people controlling the purse can’t afford to lose a bit in the short term, then you simply can’t ask them to invest in anything but close-to-the-core opportunities that promise immediate (albeit more modest) returns…READ ON


Reputation Building by Influencer Collaboration


Numerous companies and brands have recently recognized the sign of the times and moved on to create a new dimension of interaction with their external and internal stakeholders. New opportunities open up due to the arrival of new media, channels and platforms – as new challenges arise in the wake of eroding trust, and the growing demand for participation in the always-on conversation economy. Which are the key factors of success, then, in turning corporate and brand relations into a lasting and mutually beneficial stakeholder engagement? What are the most promising choices in setting up “Purpose + People” programs meant to effectively involve customers and consumers, employees and influencers, thought leaders and citizens? How to best establish communications platforms and programs to add to an attractive “citizen brand” profile? Who could be the audiences participating in the evolution of corporate and brand reputation – through sustained and constructive dialogue, productive ideation and sustained co-innovation?…READ ON


Collaboration key to success says new CINZ chief

New Zealand’s business tourism and events industry needs to work collaboratively if it is to successfully compete on the international stage, according to Sue Sullivan.Sullivan, Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) new chief, speaking at the opening of Meetings 2014 in Auckland said: “We’re operating in a highly competitive, innovative market and if we want to punch above our weight we need to work together and, where necessary, pool resources. The new convention centres planned for the country will open up new opportunities for our industry and we need to be ready to respond in a co-ordinated, strategic way…READ ON


Can the collaboration trend work in favour of the mid-size firm?

The Lawyer editor Catrin Griffiths speaks to leading figures from Clyde & Co, DWF, Macfarlanes, Mishcon, Pinsent Masons and Slater & Gordon about the growing appetite from in-house lawyers for collaborative working…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


Planning Your Future Is Pointless. The How And Why Of Embracing Uncertainty

planEven young people who have a plan (be a doctor, lawyer, research scientist, singer) don’t really know what will happen. If they have any certainty at all, they’re a bit deluded. Life doesn’t go according to plan, and while a few people might do exactly what they set out to do, you never know if you’re one of those. Other things come along to change you, to change your opportunities, to change the world. The jobs of working at Google, Amazon or Twitter, for example, didn’t exist when I was a teenager. Neither did this job…READ ON


A hard choice: to collaborate or to be liked

Collaboration in most cases evokes a good vibe amongst those who are inclined to that mode of creating. But, there’s one little factor that is rarely discussed and I get the feeling it’s an omission by commission, rather than accident. When we enter into a collaborative environment and the process is underway, it becomes very apparent to all involved that collaboration will call for disagreements and participants’ characters can be really tested to the limit. A safe, defensive strategy many run to, is the charm offensive. We end up doing all the nice things one can think of to ensure that we do not lose the ‘likes’ from our collaborating partners.

That’s where things will follow one path without fail; the collaboration output will be mediocre. Maybe this is best expressed in the words of Colin Powell (ex US Secretary of State); “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.” Far from advising that an adversarial attitude is the way to go, I do think that frank discussion is not possible without a trust based, respectful and safe environment for all collaborators. Before collaboration can kick in in earnest there is a very lengthy stage of transformation from a known culture to a disruptive and challenging environment. When the initial phase of ‘trying to impress’ your collaborating colleagues dies down, the natural evolution of relationship building can start which inevitably leads to lots of questions and many not so clear answers. This process of being committed to trust building is of the utmost importance as it is one factor that will remain vulnerable to the whims of complexity that collaboration creates.

Experienced collaborators will tell us that good outcomes come with hard work. Hard work is also about the honesty and integrity that partners bring into the mix, and aside from their well-established skills in chosen areas. It’s the integrity of the collaborative process that has to be preserved before real expectations of outcomes is possible. Preserving that integrity is easier said than done, but far from impossible. On the contrary, explicit commitment to integrity is what gradually becomes one of the principal resources that all collaborating parties turn to when the collaboration hits a roadblock. The shared knowledge that all parties are collaborating with the explicit understanding of the importance of a trusting and safe environment can play a decisive role in ensuring that collaborators feel disinclined to be liked at all cost. Instead the focus would remain on the desired results which were the primary reason for setting up the collaborative partnership.

Suggesting that trust and integrity are vital in a workplace, and particularly in situations where people depend on each other, has become somewhat of a cliché. More worrying is that the response to this is even more of a cliché, and the suspiciousness towards trusting people is in fact a major hurdle to productive collaboration. While collaboration offers genuine competitive advantage, that should come with a qualification; the level of advantage is directly dependent on the investment we make in trusting the relationship. Trusting a relationship may not be about having others’ approval. It may even come with people not liking what we say or do, but trust and respect will come out as winners because the outcomes that collaboration enables are a far more mature reward than a mediocre collection of sympathy votes.

My advice to all senior executives who embark on transitioning to a collaboration-rich culture or organisation is to invest in some preparation time and develop clear parameters for staff to perform by, in respect of the degree of trust that should be part of the organisational culture. It is a mistake to believe that the collaboration itself will lead to greater trust when little exists beforehand. A winning collaborative strategy is the one that combines the best aspects of what an organisation has, and then amplifies it to a competitive advantage. Collaborative strategy is not about making people happy, it is about happy people making an organisation perform better.


From time to time, ROADMENDER makes a simple point: collaboration is not about large entities investing massive resources to get a result. Small, innovative, tactical, creative innovations happen all the time, right in front of our eyes. Being good at collaboration is bit like being a great chef: you don’t have to create exotic dishes at the expense of cooking breakfast eggs, because each dish has its own charm. A professional approach to collaboration is about getting it to work regardless of the size of the project. So, this week I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of examples of the diversity of collaborative culture in practice, that can teach us something and are worthy of notice.


Culture of Collaboration

Despite tremendous advances in technology that yield nearly infinite access to information and the Internet’s connectivity of the world’s greatest experts, many companies continue to look inward for new product development and innovation. This navel gazing and resistance to collaborate with the technology-enabled global network limits these companies’ capacity to innovate. What is needed is a culture of collaboration and eradication of the “not invented here” mentality…READ ON







Online brand collaboration: turning customers into advocates

Brands must make the most of their social channels and progressive companies are steering engagementTurning consumer dedication into brand direction. In recent years, brands have made good use of social media channels and customer forums to improve customer service and promote their products. However, few brands have yet fostered productive two-way conversations with consumers online. Research recently conducted by .wiki, in conjunction with YouGov, found that half of consumers (51% in the US and 49% in the UK) feel they have little to no opportunity to collaborate with their favourite brands online. The public want to be heard, and hold a better perception of brands that listen. Here are some of the best ways brands can leverage the knowledge of their loyal customers…READ ON


LEGO Serious Play is not a game

play is becoming precondition for performance

play is becoming precondition for performance

Lego Serious Play is a hands-on, experiential process designed to enhance innovation and business performance. This methodology uses Lego blocks to build business and brand models as a way to encourage creative thinking, collaboration, and communication. At Liquid we believe that creativity and innovation are the result of doing things a little differently. And we’ve found that Lego Serious Play can help teams look at challenges from a new perspective, often yielding fresh solutions…READ ON


VIDEO: Coworking – the benefits of collaborative workspaces

From a single collaborative workspace in San Francisco in 2005, coworking has ballooned into a popular movement, with an estimated 3,000 spaces around the world. Tim Butcher and Julian Waters-Lynch explain how the principles of coworking also offer advantages for big businesses, as well as for freelancers and individuals…READ ON


The Next Collaborative Consumption Movement: Closet Sharing

The sharing economy is quickly becoming a part of daily life, with companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb offering cheaper, more accessible alternatives to the usual options for booking a hotel or getting around town. In the fashion world, collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer companies are starting to make their mark in this exciting economic shift. Dubbed the closet sharing economy, fashion marketplaces are changing the relationship women have with their closets. When women know they can easily sell new or gently used things from their closets, they’re more likely to splurge on the things they want at higher prices. This change in shopping behavior has created the phenomenon of the revolving closet, where women are able to use the money they make selling clothes they no longer want in order to buy new items…READ ON


Collaboration in the Corridor: State Department site helps staff connect

KMBefore the State Department’s internal social networking site, Corridor, was launched three years ago, it wasn’t easy for the agency’s employees to find a particular skill or language expertise among their nearly 70,000 colleagues. Instead, they called up who they thought could help them, said Tim Hayes, deputy division chief with the Knowledge Leadership Division with the Office of eDiplomacy. State has social media tools such as an agencywide internal wiki called Diplopedia and a blogging platform called Communities@State, as well. But it didn’t have an online space where employees could search for expertise or collaborate and share information without public scrutiny – until Corridor…READ ON


Binky and YarnHeart collaboration

yarnYarnHeart brings together stories and handmade hearts from across Australia to create a wonderful tactile, fun and colourful installation at the Bagot Community Festival, I HEART BAGOT on August 16 & 17, 2014 We want to connect your community to Bagot community through sharing a simple symbol of happiness and talking about the things we love in the places we live.READ ON


HP Wins the Guardian Sustainable Business Award in Collaboration

On Wednesday, May 14, The Guardian awarded HP with a Sustainable Business Award for our work to reduce electronic waste (e-waste), protect health and the environment, and create jobs in Kenya for those most in need. We’re achieving this goal by building a unique, scalable and replicable model for sustainable recycling in the developing world…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


Five Reasons to Ignore the Advice to Do What You Love

Confucius encouraged others to do what they love. Even Confucius sometimes missed the point. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Confucius encouraged others to do what they love. Even Confucius sometimes missed the point. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Admit it. You live in a society that reveres the perspectives of Joseph Campbell and Steve Jobs. You’ve been told that, if you do what you love, the money will follow. You’ve been told that, if you find your bliss, world-changing success will magically come. You’ve been told that, if you’re not changing the world in dramatic ways, it’s because you’re too afraid to find your passion and follow it. There are five reasons to end your personal guilt trip…READ ON


Innovation and collaboration – two peas in a pod

You can’t innovate on a whim. The first time I read that (the author eludes me for the moment) it resonated with a point I am at pains to repeat; the ability for innovation to occur is directly proportional to the investment we make in systems that at first have little to do with innovation. Collaboration is one such a system of thought and practice. To put it plainly, organisations that do not collaborate have little real chance to be ‘innovative enterprises’. Every organisation or individual can in fact come up with an innovative solution, product, service etc. But that is very different from being an innovative organisation which is characterised by a capacity to continue to innovate.


Innovation is a special space. A special condition in terms of human psychology. Innovation is a deep place of uncertainty. For individuals who are good and accustomed to a strong command and control style of management, the innovation space is very unsettling and challenging. As Neal Stephenson (an amazing author and futurist) once remarked ‘innovation can’t happen without accepting the risk that it might fail. That factor alone is enough to be a major disincentive for many who have fined tuned their abilities to manipulating stable and known factors. Innovation is simultaneously a state and a process. It is a process which does not offer certainty, but it does offer results and outcomes.

One of the defining features of innovation, as a process of creation rather than a whole system which would then include the strategy of risk management, is the contextual overlay; meaning applying a solution to a particular problem in one context by borrowing from another. What may seem like an ordinary solution in one context, may seem innovative when put in a different context. This, then, means that innovation is a form of ‘combinatorics’ not too different from any creative process. What makes innovation unique is that it has a degree of entrepreneurial process embedded in the process of its creation. This is precisely the reason why collaboration should be the default operating system for any enterprise serious about innovation. As I often repeat, collaboration is a disruptive process designed to lead to the collaborative advantage that an organisation or a group of businesses aim to form. The collaborative setting is then the environment where innovation seems a natural response to dealing with disruption, which inevitably opens opportunities for framing challenges in a new way.

In my experience I find that people most often confuse ‘adaptation’ with ‘innovation’ because they think that a large amount of adaptation to external factors is innovative. However, innovation is about ‘going beyond adaptation’. Innovation is also differentiated by a particular combination of motivators and factors. Here are a few common ones:

1. Seeking solutions that move beyond the predictable (or natural) next step

2. Entrepreneurialism

3. Creativity combined with traditional management. Creativity on its own is risk taking: being creative in constructing a solution is one thing but it is completely useless unless it is then well managed.

4. Being specific to a time and place (elements of context); in hindsight most innovation does not look special.

5. Not universally accepted (when everyone around you thinks what you do is innovative then you have to wonder)

6. Directly linked to a ‘promotion-protection’ relationship. An organisation with deep structures (including strong hierarchies where a pyramid style is in place) is more likely to be in ‘protection’ mode, and thus less likely to access all it needs to be innovative; instead it will be skewed more towards the ‘managed change’ part of the scale.


One of the staples of the collaboration discipline is its capacity to provide a platform for solving major, large scale and wicked problems. In fact, it’s fair to say that it is precisely these kinds of challenges that originally led global thinkers, business leaders and political decision makers to start turning to collaboration as a principal strategy. From then on, collaboration started to appeal to various stakeholders who realise that size doesn’t matter when collaboration is in question. This edition of selected reading provides a few examples worth noting for the endorsement they have across the spectrum.



Obama Says Collaboration Is Best Response to Global Challenges

Washington — President Obama said U.S. foreign policy will place greater emphasis on global collective action through international institutions and alliances, saying multinational cooperation has shown itself to be the most successful and sustainable response to instability, terrorism, climate change, poverty and other 21st-century challenges. Speaking May 28 at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, Obama said the United States remains the “indispensable nation” on the global stage. He rejected calls from domestic critics for it to pursue a more isolationist role in the world…READ ON


Collaborate or die alone’: Twitter Canada director says

bu-twitter tech-29  Hannah Yoon,Record staff Kirstine Stewart, managing director and of Twitter Canada, speaks at the 2014 Tech Leadership Conference in Kitchener on Thursday.

bu-twitter tech-29
Hannah Yoon,Record staff
Kirstine Stewart, managing director and of Twitter Canada, speaks at the 2014 Tech Leadership Conference in Kitchener on Thursday.

When Kirstine Stewart was appointed managing director of Twitter Canada last year and charged with the job of building the Twitter team here, there were expressions of surprise. Stewart, who has degree in literature, was vice-president of CBC’s English services, a big-media organization with 5,000 employees delivering news and entertainment content over audio, television and digital operations…READ ON


Enabling collaboration through improved mobile connectivity

Survey results from Economist Intelligence Unit in November 2012 showed collaboration as a key strategy, with 51 per cent of respondents claiming their suppliers are ideally placed to suggest best practice rather than solely looking inside the organisation. By working closer with suppliers, improvements to logistics, manufacturing and processes will help strengthen operations and enable responsiveness to market changes…READ ON


Collaboration bearing fruit for SMEs

The ongoing collaboration between SME Corp and BAE Systems to develop local SMEs is bearing fruit. Richard McKie, director for offset programmes and group business development at BAE Systems, noted that there are success stories from the collaboration between the two countries such as Composites Technology Research Malaysia Sdn Bhd (CTRM). “A lot of these stories do fall under the radar. But we have about four or five companies now collaborating with companies in Malaysia. Our personnel are coming in and we have developed successful SME relationships here,” McKie said…READ ON


Collaboration: turning competition into partners

Competition in the financial services industry is becoming tense today. Financial institutions face double competition from direct and indirect competitors, as well as having to juggle pressure to regain customer loyalty and restore their status as a central institution for all financial services. Due to changes in the market, the majority of competition is no longer limited to direct competitors. The number of players specialising in different financial services (such as payments or leasing) is increasing rapidly, and their activity is becoming more intensive. Retailers and telecommunications organisations are among the strongest indirect competitors today, and they attract customers for their flexibility and good customer service…READ ON


Our way of thinking about collaboration is about to change

If your idea of an effective collaborative environment is a Google Doc, Lander Muruaga wants to have a few words with you. Lander is an interaction designer and independent experience design consultant from Barcelona. He believes ‘everything is connected,’ and brings that mindset to his work with international companies and organizations when he helps them to conceptualize and design digital products, systems and processes. He says that, while humans have a natural desire to collaborate and help one another, we need to take collaboration one step further and adapt to new and changing environments…READ ON


…and now for something completely different…


Volunteering + social impact = mental health improvement

Four in five volunteers believe electing to help has had a positive effect on their health. Photograph: Image Source/Getty Images

Four in five volunteers believe electing to help has had a positive effect on their health. Photograph: Image Source/Getty Images

A report suggests that four in five volunteers believe their volunteering activity has had a positive effect on their health. Research published today by Citizens Advice Bureau indicates that volunteering boosts self-esteem, employabilty and health – especially mental health. In order to celebrate Volunteer’s Week we asked readers to tell us about their experiences…READ ON

Keep your eye on the man, not the dog!

For fans of the rebooted series COSMOS, now presented by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the title of this piece will makes sense. But, presuming that many have not seen it yet, let me explain. In the second last instalment of the 13 episode series, Prof. deGrasse Tyson talks about climate change. In making a point he spends a few minutes explaining the difference between the climate and weather; the latter being the short term easily observed and the former a long term projection. He then goes on to illustrate the point whereby he is seen, from above, walking on the beach with a dog on a leash. From above he is shown to be walking a straight line in one direction while the dog is zigzagging around him running from left to right and so on. Prof. deGrasse Tyson then makes the above remark as a way of suggesting that we should pay attention to the long term trend (climate) rather than on occasional differences that can be observed on a short term basis (the weather).

...Prof. deGrasse Tyson and his dog...

…Prof. deGrasse Tyson and his dog…


While this is not an attempt to link climate change to collaboration, I really liked the way famous professor summed up a point I would like to make about collaboration, as I am wont to do from time to time. No doubt there’s no lack of suspicion amongst some managers, and business and civic leaders about the power of collaboration. Having covered this ground previously I will just repeat one point: collaboration changes things and change is not embraced easily. It makes sense then that most of the argument against collaboration is retrofitted by bits and pieces of information that are very much like Prof. deGrasse Tyson’s dog.

It would be downright naïve to expect that the collaboration practice would be appealing to every professional, regardless of discipline. In fact, my hope is that it will never reach that level of consensus. No one business strategy, no one business philosophy, no one business driver offers silver bullet solutions. Most that offer great results do so precisely because of tensions that arise from both positive and negative feedback. I find that I learn more about collaboration as both theory and practice, whenever I am asked a challenging question about it. Many are simple questions but I do not treat them lightly as they too offer a unique opportunity for reflection, analysis, and research which is the key to the maturing of the discipline. For instance, after the recent launch of a ‘collaborative’ that focuses on areas of resilience and brings together professionals across disciplines and across continents, I was asked why the term ‘collaborative’. I suppose, as much as I think of it is an easy question, I also realise these types of questions can be interesting indicators of where a particular audience may sit. We do, after all, have ‘co-operative’ and ‘collective’; so the idea is not especially innovative.

My point is this; some evidence may be right in front of us and yet we may not be able to see it, let alone make sense of it. The trick is to double-check our own operating system and calibrate our brain power in a way that allows us to be open to see what we can’t really recognise; at first that is. Every single day there is new evidence emerging about the power and relevance of collaboration as a business strategy for growth. That’s the man to watch!