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.

ROADMENDER Recommends

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.

ROADMENDER Recommends

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).

...unsustainable...

…unsustainable…

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.

 

 

ROADMENDER Recommends

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.

ROADMENDER Recommends

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.

heartjob

 

 

ROADMENDER Recommends

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

FUELBAND
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

the-why

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.

ROADMENDER Recommends

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.

drucker

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.

ROADMENDER Recommends

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!

 

ROADMENDER Recommends

Collaboration can divide people before they have a chance to talk about it. Well, not as a general rule but not surprisingly, it does happen. The division I’m referring to is not based on any deep philosophical grounds, or on the strong views that emerge when people practice collaboration for a serious period of time. I’m talking about something of a more trivial nature; the word itself.

Collaboration conjures up all sorts of images and ideas in people’s mind, which are directly related to the personal experiences one may or may not have had with collaboration. Collaboration is not the only word in English that can do that. After all, the meaning of words is not a static thing. So when I hear the word collaboration, for me it’s a good thing and instinctively my attention is focused with an expectation that something interesting, exciting, valuable or even ground breaking happened or is about to happen But I am aware that sometimes the first thing someone hears when we speak of collaboration is ‘cooperate treasonably’ – one of its definitions. However, it may just be that it is really hard to conceive how collaboration can mean anything other than a positive joint effort. Collaboration with its fresh meaning is here, it’s making a real difference and it is relevant. The selection of recommended reading below attests to this.

collaboration_definition

How collaboration in ERP drives innovation

Conversation inspires innovation, which is why collaboration has become increasingly important. Making it easier for staff and departments to share information and views means that skills and knowledge can be pooled, leading to quicker problem-solving and project progression as well as sparking new ideas. Working together to deliver improved customer satisfaction isn’t new, and is already well-practiced in the world of customer relationship management (CRM) and best-of-breed project management solutions. Now is the time for businesses to benefit from social collaboration within enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions…READ ON

 

Greater collaboration among CFOs and HR leaders drives stronger business performance

◾ 80% of CFOs and CHROs say their relationship has become more collaborative over the past three years

◾Where the relationship is significantly more collaborative:

◾41% had greater than 10% EBITDA growth in the last year, compared to only 14% of other companies

◾43% saw a significant improvement in workforce productivity in the last year, compared to only 10% of other companies…READ ON

 

Globalisation means greater business school collaboration

Business schools need help. They know that they must train leaders who can thrive in today’s increasingly interconnected and complex business environment, yet for all the talk of being “global” and “international”, when teaching students how to best operate in such a world schools struggle to go beyond scratching the surface…READ ON

 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s Collaboration Game: Can He Drive Innovation Growth?

microsoftcollabvisionCan Microsoft’s Warriors Collaborate? While innovations from Xbox, Kinect, Office 365, and Microsoft’s cloud business offer hope that the company’s innovation DNA is not totally gone, the next great Microsoft creation seems far off. How can Nadella change the game? In part, Nadella’s answer lies in moving Microsoft from a warrior culture to a collaborative, knowledge-driven culture. Nadella’s email to employees on his very first day as CEO offers clues as to how he sees the connection between innovation and collaboration…READ ON

 

Turnbull backs Telstra’s NICTA collaboration

telstraTelstra is pursuing collaborative projects with a number of research institutes through which it aims to create solutions for network, security, and privacy. The telecommunications provider will work with National ICT Australia (NICTA) across network planning and future media delivery, as well as security and privacy. The former piece concerns the assessment of network demand to inform the telco’s overall network strategy and investment approach, while the latter intends to influence future services which provide customers with control over data usage…READ ON

 

Collaborating for the Competitive Advantage in the Market of Social Innovation

“Collaboration is the New Competition”, Ben Hecht, the President and CEO of Living Cities, says in his Harvard Business Review blog. Especially in the field of social businesses, cooperation and collaboration have been credited ethos for solving complex social problems. In my capacity as a research fellow at Surge, I have the privilege to interface with different social organizations, catalyst intermediaries, funders, academics and the government in Taiwan…READ ON

 

Oscar Berg: ‘Collaboration Pyramid’ Holds the Secret of High Impact Social Business

When Oscar Berg conceived the idea of a “collaboration pyramid,” he did exactly what you would expect a social business expert to do. He shared the basic concept for the pyramid on his blog — so he could refine and improve it through input and feedback from his readers. That’s the value of collaboration, he explained. By sharing information and ideas, good ideas can become even better…READ ON

 

…and now for something completely different…

 

Abolish the Week!

It’s unnatural. It’s unnecessary. Why the seven-day week has got to go…READ ON

Illustration by James Emmerman

Illustration by James Emmerman

Card-carrying collaborationist…I am

It is not enough just to understand collaboration. It is not enough to like collaboration. It is not enough to collaborate. Collaboration professionals must be card-carrying collaborators. Now, the last time I carried a card of any kind that I was proud to display (tactically, with only a small part to be seen sneaking from my pocket) was when as teenager I belonged to a book club. Now, I wish there is a membership card for us collaborators; or is it collaborationists?

Displaying a certain inclination towards collaboration is not a simple matter. As a student of collaboration, I think the practice is deserving of conversations in every setting, from staff meeting rooms and Boardrooms to water coolers and coffee stands outside city highrises. Even dinner parties and Saturday mornings when we shuttle our kids from one sporting engagement to another. Relentlessly! That is the way collaboration should be pursued.

...life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration...TG

…life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration…TG

I think that collaboration is one of the maturing disciplines that differ from many others we need in our daily work. We know that good communication and marketing skills are skills we don’t exclusively use only during our work hours. Those skills are useful across the work-life spectrum. So are financial skills or even ICT. That is perhaps why the relevance of certain skills we gained in the workplace have become part of daily routine; their usefulness transcends the 9-5, Mon-Fri, paradigm. You see, what I’m getting at here is this; for collaboration to deliver its best it has to be part of our total life. We should practice collaboration in our family life and our community as well as in our professional work. Coherent application of collaborative skills is what makes it much easier for businesses to invest in resources, training, etc. that pay dividends.

As Tim Gunn [a respected creative] says, “Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.” To me this simple observation is another clear sign that a trend that challenges the century old division of life, work, family, community, working week, etc., is accelerating and in its spin creates a whole new level of opportunities for individuals who realise that the future belongs to those who adapt fast and smart; adaptation that without a shadow of a doubt will hinge very strongly on one’s ability to be a learner, creator, innovator, collaborator and a resilient participant in a semi-permanently disruptive world.

Douglas Adams [creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] devised an often quoted rule of how people deal with technology and I see that same rule fitting nicely into emergent business drivers. Here’s what Adams said (from Wikipedia): “I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

Maybe it’s my own way of synthetising ideas, but I cannot help but think that Adams’ heuristic approach is really spot-on when applied to many things. Emergent business drivers such as collaboration between enterprises, or the resilience of workers are much more connected to technology and thus the relevance. So, next time collaboration comes up around the table, do not say ‘that’s work stuff, let’s drop it’. Instead, pounce on the opportunity to enlighten people. They’ll thank you later.

ROADMENDER Recommends

How important is collaboration to you in 2014? If more than last year, then next year will be even more so. If not that much, then next year will be a struggle. But let me put my crystal ball away and rephrase the above. A major study by the HR industry in the UK recently revealed a major trend in the way HR executives are thinking about the future of business; the resilience of workers will be a paramount factor. A strong feature of a resilient workforce is the capacity to collaborate and that is not a new discovery. Therefore, I suggest that anyone who plans to create something and be relevant in the workplace regardless of their current position should learn more about collaboration. This week’s selection is the usual a mix of reading, but includes some articles from which I was also able to learn something new. In particular I like the piece from the Optimice company blog site, which goes into lovely detail about the way we can better design workspaces for collaboration. The company’s blog is an absolute trove of similar articles so I recommend it strongly. I also liked the overview of ‘historic collaborations’ which Bloomberg published and I think it’s a rich source of micro-lessons. As you can see, there are plenty of people who are ‘natural born sharers’, all you need to is indulge and make yourself more attractive to your colleagues, bosses or partners and your collaboration value goes up.

 

 

Historic Collaborations

Brothers Take Flight Wilbur and Orville Wright The Wright Co. Dayton, Ohio Founded 1892

Brothers Take Flight
Wilbur and Orville Wright
The Wright Co.
Dayton, Ohio
Founded 1892

From Coco Chanel and Pierre Wertheimer to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, some of the world’s most effective business partnerships in recent history have resulted in companies with products and services that pioneered new industries and business models. For a look at the results of 11 such pairings, flip through this slide show…READ ON

 

Who would you like to sit near at work?

Sounds a simple enough question, but likely to provoke a mix of emotions that strikes at the heart of the social and business dichotomy. On one hand we like to sit with people that we can get on with; people that potentially share our interests, both inside and outside of work. But also they might be people that are different enough from us to challenge and stretch us without descending into acrimony. On the other hand we might put our ‘business’ hat on and consider our current role…READ ON

 

Business Collaboration Advice From The World’s Top Social CIO

I recently had the privilege to interview one of the most collaborative and social CIOs in the world, Oliver Bussmann, Group CIO of UBS. UBS is the biggest bank in Switzerland, operating in more than 50 countries with about 63,500 employees globally. UBS is considered the world’s largest manager of private wealth assets. Bussmann, who has almost 25 years of experience in the business of IT, responsible for managing an 8,000 employee IT organization, has been named by numerous publications as the top social CIO in the world. It should come as no surprise to you that I met Mr. Bussmann through social collaboration and I have learned so much from him…READ ON

 

How local collaboration can help your small business grow

growthWhen the economic crisis hit, small businesses in Britain and United States banded together to survive and compete. But here in Australia, why should we wait for a crisis to enjoy the advantages of collaboration? For many small businesses, it’s only by joining forces that you can achieve economies of scale and have a voice that’s loud enough to be heard over the big guys. There is a kaleidoscope of ways you can work with local businesses. At one end of the scale, businesses are running whole marketing campaigns together. At the other end, they’re swapping ideas and promoting each other’s brands to expand their own reach. Here are five inspiring reasons to collaborate with your business neighbours:..READ ON

 

Australian Collaboration for Accelerator Science

Accelerator science is both a discipline in its own right within modern physics and provides highly powerful tools for discovery and innovation in many other fields of scientific research. As such, it holds a distinguished position in enabling and shaping the modern world from the discovery and study of the atomic properties of materials, to biomedical research and the treatment of illnesses, unravelling environmental processes and finally to the fundamental understanding of how the Universe was created. Throughout its history Australia has participated in and made key contributions to the field of accelerator science, including the invention of the synchrotron acceleration principle. To maintain and develop state-of-the-art accelerator-based facilities in Australia, the Australian Collaboration for Accelerator Science (ACAS) has been established…READ ON

 

Expand Your Collaboration ‘Footprint’

footprintFor most enterprises, successful online collaboration requires massive behavior change across the company. In thinking about how to get many people each to change a little, I borrowed a technique from those who wrestle with a similar predicament: addressing climate change. We can take many actions to slow climate change, but most of them require millions of people to change their behavior in a coordinated way. So how do you get people out of the “What can I do? I’m just one person” mode of thinking? One small step each person can take is to track his carbon footprint. The goal, of course, is to make your own footprint as small as possible; there are even calculators to help you do it…READ ON

 

Innovation Or Production? Authentic Leaders Choose “Both”

If there is a recurring, consistent question that pops up in all innovation conversations, it’s one that goes something like this: “I am tasked with producing results against very specific measures. At the same time, I’m being encouraged to innovate, to be a creative risk-taker. Is it possible to do both, to have both a Rainforest (innovation) world and a plantation (production) world, at the same time?”…READ ON

 

…and now for something completely different…

 

44 Simple Daily Activities To Enjoy Your Work

Here are 44 Simple Daily Activities To Enjoy Your Work created by OfficeVibe to help keep the motivation high and add some fun back in your work day!

44-team-building-activities-enjoy-your-work

…Source: http://www.coolinfographics.com/blog/2014/4/4/44-simple-daily-activities-to-enjoy-your-work.html

 

 

Changing the art of ‘working but not producing’…[or when collaboration came to town]

I often wonder to what extent workers in the 21st century associate the ideas of collaboration and work as being inseparable. Perhaps the self-evident truth doesn’t need much reflection. But only just, as I am inclined to think that the changing context presents a challenge to better understand this seemingly simple relationship. The central point here is the idea that for work to be productive it has to have meaning. And in my view all meaning is relative to the human context. Which is why collaboration can offer more than a solution to the means itself, but also improve the means in a much better way.

As Rolf Jensen remarked (perhaps a little bit tongue-in-cheek) finally Karl Marx’s vision of workers being in charge of the means of production have come true, because humans are the means in a new economy where values are produced by knowledge, imagination and intuition. The very idea of work changes over time. The factors that drive that change are varied and the final picture of how work defines people and vice versa is what creates the overall socio-cultural systems within which we live. All of this points to the vital role that meaningful work plays in a competitive enterprise.

So, why ‘changing the art of working but not producing’? Mainly because modern workers (in advanced economies at least) do not lack work; but rather struggle to find meaning in their work. The idea of work and meaning has become one of the most critical drivers in contemporary enterprises. The difference between companies whose workers are meaningfully engaged and those whose workers are not, often translates into a clear competitive advantage. There is no consensus on whose responsibility is to ‘create’ meaning at work. While the current buzz is mostly skewed towards the idea that companies should be smart and engage workers with a view of assisting them in creating and discovering meaning at work, there are many who warn against this approach. A range of policies and approaches exist; all come with major investment cost but not all produce clear mutual benefit.

Clearly, there is a connection between meaningful work and productivity. It is also very clear that these factors have a higher cost and are of more critical importance in some industries more than others. So the search for a balance in the way meaningful work translates into productivity continues. As a result of this ongoing struggle, a significant cohort of workers engage in work by being busy but the net result is not what it can be when meaning and human endeavour match well. It is in this context that I see collaborative instinct as having the potential to change all that; the basic premise being the notion that work that is done collaboratively is far more likely to be meaningful! It is that simple. Missing out on this in daily work practice is in my opinion a costly mistake.

Leaders in any enterprise need to grasp the collaboration instinct if they are to reduce the cost of production. Humans can produce ideas faster when a system provided to them allows for great collaboration, connection and human closeness. This implicitly means that collaboration as a practice is worth investing in, in lieu of many other programs that are harder to sustain in the long run. Paying for expensive team building retreats, professional upskilling, perks, performance bonuses and so on can add value. But, it is a case of fun while the music lasts. This is reflected in the synthetic nature of the organisation, not the authentic core it can and should be based on – the human element.

Organisations are synthetic systems whose relevance, resilience, sustainability and competitiveness increasingly depend on an ability to evolve. To evolve into authentic systems that is; systems that bear relevance to their main value producers – the people. This is where the task becomes futile without collaboration. Collaboration is an instinctive part of human nature and it applies equally to work and family life. Building on this part of essential humanness is what transforms an enterprise into a resilient business. Collaborative workers build trust, connections and capacities that significantly reduce the sense of meaningless work. Business leaders know how to look after their means of production. In the past this meant machines. Now it means the people who carry knowledge with them. The math is simple.

ROADMENDER Recommends

Sceptics have been around for ever and will continue, thankfully I’d say, to be part of humankind. I refer here to scepticism as it is most widely understood in everyday life, not the philosophical school of thought type. So, with full respect to the tough questions and lack of genuine concerns about the effectiveness of collaboration, I think we, the collaborating class, should take the task seriously and learn continuously about collaboration. We should discuss and share what we research or learn through practice. The importance of making collaboration the critical part of any enterprise’s strategy and culture goes far beyond self-interest and the passion some of us may feel. Making collaboration a discipline that counts is a duty. It is with this attitude that we need to engage not just the converted and/or undecided, but also those who are sceptical. So with that in mind I prepared this edition of recommended reading.

What do cows have to do with collaboration? Well it turns out a promising future for humankind based on an initiative in the UK. I argue that collaboration is essential for business resilience in disruptive markets and some of these stories seem to reflect precisely on that notion. For these and similar stories of collaboration and drama, check out this week’s selection of recommended reading.

 

Enterprise Collaboration Market Expected to Reach $70.61 Billion by 2019- New Report by MarketsandMarkets

The report “Enterprise Collaboration Market [Solutions (Telephony, Unified Messaging, Conferencing, Collaboration Platforms, Enterprise Social), Services, Deployment, User Types (SME, Enterprises)] – Global Advancements, Worldwide Forecasts & Analysis (2014 – 2019)”, defines and segments the Enterprise Collaboration market into various sub-segments with an in-depth analysis and forecasting of revenues. The report also identifies the factors driving this market, various restraints and opportunities impacting it along with the technology roadmap and adoption trends…RAED ON

 

 

Dairy Fund aims to boost collaboration and returns

cowsaDEFRA launched the £5m Dairy Fund in July 2012 in the aftermath of milk price protests and the SOS Dairy summit. After a long application process, nine grants of varying sizes were awarded earlier this year to help groups of farmers co-operate to become more competitive, reach new markets and strengthen their position in the supply chain. A wide range of groups and businesses is benefiting from the funding – DEFRA hopes the new and stronger co-operative groups that emerge from the process will serve as examples and inspire other farmers to do the same…READ ON

 

New collaboration between Australian and European scientists to boost therapeutic drug research

Director of the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery, Professor Ronald J Quinn AM said research collaborations are vital in the search for new drugs to fight disease. “Research needs to become more collaborative and multidisciplinary to succeed and we will get more value from Australian compounds if more exploration is being done,” Professor Quinn said. “Australian chemists will be able to have their compounds investigated by European scientists who are looking at things in different ways, and Australian biologists will have access to European compounds. The more people who are investigating the better.” Coordinator of the EU-OPENSCREEN consortium, Dr. Ronald Frank from Leibniz-Institut f-r Molekulare Pharmakologie in Berlin Germany, is also enthusiastic about the exchange with Compounds Australia…READ ON

 

An Architecture of Collaboration

Physical supply chains promote efficiency: intermediaries aggregate supply and demand in ways that streamline the market for providers and aggregators. But digital media is about more than efficiency: it gives publishers an opportunity to embrace alternative formats, different business models and new discovery mechanisms, all of which could help them hedge against commodification in the face of abundance…READ ON

 

Collaborative Business Intelligence on the Rise

Collaborative business intelligence (BI) is gaining steam as more firms realize the productive benefits of BI. These offerings fold BI and social media tools into one solution so firms can truly understand and share their data to improve decision making. Fueling Collaboration. The collaborative BI process fuels better decision making at organizations. According to new research from Dresner Advisory Services reported by Information Management, more than 60 percent of global organizations surveyed find collaborative BI important. Dresner, a BI-focused research firm, explains that the growing interest in collaborative BI puts it in the same category as other highly sought-after technologies, including big data and social media…READ ON

 

9 Collaboration Things to Know

Working together is hard enough when everyone is in the same room; working on ideas together on a whiteboard. Throw in egos and culture and conflicting schedules and workloads and it gets even harder. Now, add in a dispersed workforce and content spread across shared files (c’mon, you know you still have them) plus on the cloud and on various mobile devices – just to compound everyone’s “email as file folder” issue; and you’ve got real collaboration challenges. Here are some highlights from AIIM’s most recent Industry Watch, Content Collaboration and Processing in a Cloud and Mobile World…READ ON

 

…and now for something completely different…

 

Do…You…MIND?!??

mindWe’re learning more and more about the mind all the time. Neurological functions. Brain chemistry. Thought processes. Feelings and states like being ‘in the zone,’ or ‘positively engaged,’ or even ‘transcendent.’ But it seems we are talking more about mind, and using it less. We used to use the word ‘mind’ as an action verb or concrete noun. I present three examples for your analytic pleasure. When I was a kid, “mind the baby” was a phrase often directed to older siblings by an otherwise-engaged parent. It was a call for attention and action – at minimum a few doting moments playing peekaboo or counting fingers. Today, the more likely strategy would be to put the baby in front of the television, or perhaps an attention-grabbing app running on a baby-proofed tablet. Stimulation, yes. Mind? Not really…READ ON

 

Out-collaborate your competition!

It is very rare now to read about collaboration in a business context without the point being made that collaboration is ‘new competition’ or a form of ‘co-opetition’. This is true. It is also true that despite a growing number of business leaders becoming seriously engaged with this critical business driver, there is certainly a major challenge for the practice of collaboration to reach the level of ‘discipline’. As has been remarked by some, people fear change not because of the new ideas but more because they fear letting go of old ideas.

Collaboration as an idea, as a concept and as a practice is not spared. In my opinion, collaboration does not negate competition. If anything, collaboration makes competition more innovative, and more relevant to customers’ desires and market trends. But, for all that to truly work, collaborators have to be a bit more creative, more driven and focused on sustainable impacts. That is what out-collaborating your competition is about; utilising the collaborative advantage as a unique set of values that can make your product better.

One of the constants that I identify in almost every instance when developing collaborative strategies is the expectation by clients that a set of scientific rules would show in advance what values will emerge. That kind of thinking is only natural. However, the concern is the ability to know what can be measured in advance and what is intangible and hard to predict. For instance, collaborating parties can measure their investment in time, money, intellectual property, equipment and so on. On that basis some degree of output can be calculated and decisions made to ensure the collaboration does not lead to loss. How fast collaboration can produce an idea, a quality of an idea and its total value is not a simple calculating process. This is where entrepreneurial management plays a larger role.

Out-collaborating your competition is then a deliberate approach, informed by an acute understanding of the capacity at hand and more importantly the goals the business is focusing on. In other words, it is not about going out and collaborating on all fronts, but rather being clinically focused on selective areas that lead to a collaboration premium. This inevitably leads to a number of questions every collaborating entity should consider. Who will establish with a high degree of certainty how well the organisation is positioned to attract collaborating partners? Is the internal culture of the organisation ready for the degree of disruption which collaboration can infuse? How will the collaboration enhance the brand of the organisation as a whole? How will the risk be managed? The list goes on and on. But none of these questions are significantly harder to answer then the types of questions that are posed in a standard strategy formulation process. The only difference is that these questions may take longer to address.

As with any strategy, collaboration as a platform needs to be well understood. The old attitude of ‘working together’ and hoping for the best can only carry your business so far. The idea that collaboration can actually be something that nudges your business ahead of the competition works best when it is well incorporated into your business as a brand, strategy and culture. For that to occur it is not unreasonable to invest internally into engaging a team or an individual as your chief collaboration driver. Businesses are already doing this so don’t miss out.

ROADMENDER Recommends

Creativity and innovation regularly feature in the collaboration discussion. Some call them ‘corporate twins’ (see article below). At times it may sound as if they are the best, or most appealing, features to potential partners. Now, I think they certainly can be very appealing to individuals who carry out the day-to-day work in any collaboration, but they can and often are expected to produce miracles. Creativity and innovation are not essential for good collaboration. In fact they are directly proportional to the maturity of a collaborative partnership. Mature collaborating partners have a higher degree of trust and understanding of each other’s capacities, needs, risks etc. They also invest more in the reputation of each partner. Only when these factors are satisfied can innovation and creativity play a larger role, because both can be very disruptive when poorly managed and can lead to destabilising of relationships. Creativity and innovation are more likely to increase collaborative advantage, so it pays to know how each of these areas work in the collaboration context. The following selection of recommended reading may offer some clues.

 

The Way to the Future Through Collaboration: Tinkering With the Bounds of What’s Possible: Buzz Aldrin salutes Old Glory on the moon. Image: NASA/APOLLO 11

The Way to the Future Through Collaboration: Tinkering With the Bounds of What’s Possible: Buzz Aldrin salutes Old Glory on the moon. Image: NASA/APOLLO 11

 

6 Marketing Collaboration Tools For Your Online Strategy

Collaboration is a huge part of marketing and making sure that your online strategies are running smoothly because there are so many different factors you have to keep organized. Because of all these factors you have to have a lot of people and because of all these people, collaboration is inevitable. Using a few marketing collaboration tools might be just what you’re missing…READ ON

 

Are businesses ready for the next generation of creative collaboration technologies?

headCreativity, and its corporate twin, innovation, are increasingly seen as indicators of business success. By 2020, the UK is expected to have an innovation and ideas economy rather than a purely knowledge economy. As that takes shape, collaboration will be the means to improve problem solving, increase creativity, and deliver that all-important innovation. Extensive research – formal and informal – has been conducted into how collaboration can best harness the creativity within organisations. Neurological studies have shown that laughter helps people be more nimble and creative…READ ON

 

8 Tips To Improve Mobile Collaboration

According to research firm IDC, the number of mobile workers worldwide is expected to reach 1.3 billion (37.2 percent of the global workforce) by 2015, with more than 153 million of those mobile workers in the United States and Canada. While many organizations now allow employees to use their own mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) at or for work (BYOD), getting workers to regularly communicate and collaborate, with each other as well as the office, via their smartphones or tablets still poses a challenge…READ ON

 

‘The Collaborative Citizen’ Report launch in partnership with Ipsos MORI

“The Collaborative Citizen’ is based on new polling data from Ipsos MORI, and explores the relationship between citizens and public services, asking what it would take to develop a more collaborative and engaged relationship in which services were centred around the wants, needs and aspirations of citizens. Key questions asked in the report include:..READ ON

 

Only collaborative leadership can make communities succeed

Strong political leadership and good managerial leadership do not have to be mutually exclusive aims. Successful communities need a number of things: strong political leadership, a relentless focus on results, a commitment to transparent and ethical government, a strategy for representing and engaging the whole community and good administrative leadership. Only a collaborative approach can get near to delivering all these things. But as political scientist and public executive Harlan Cleveland puts it: “How do you get everyone in on the act and still get action?”…READ ON

 

The Way to the Future Through Collaboration: Tinkering With the Bounds of What’s Possible

What does an astronaut know about facilitating business and fostering innovation? The start of the space age hinged on uninhibited innovation, collaboration, leadership and careful planning. Over the course of my career, the space program has grown tremendously, and what made that possible is applicable outside the industry. These four things — innovation, collaboration, leadership and careful planning — that were so essential for decades of exploration and inspiration are crucial to the success of any project, and the lack of any one could be detrimental to our success as a society in moving forward…READ ON

 

…and now for something completely different…

 

How Einstein’s Brain Was Probably Different Than Yours, And Why He Was So Creative

brain

In 1905, at the astoundingly young age of 26, Albert Einstein came up with the quantum theory of light, proved the existence of atoms, and created the theory of special relativity. If you’re wondering how so much genius could possibly be jam-packed into one head, a new study just published in the journal Brain, provides a clue…READ ON

 

Sign up (see menu on the left) and join the ROADMENDER conversation

LEGO’s on my mind…collaboration and the integration of bits

I start this post with an assumption that everyone has seen the LEGO movie. Why wouldn’t I, it has all the drama and excitement needed to rival any serious contender; the only difference being that the characters came from a plastic mould. But, that’s precisely the point; how small and seemingly rigid bits and pieces fit against each other, end up looking alive and full of life and engage so many people around the world?

Lego7

For those who haven’t seen the movie, yet, there is a happy song called: “Everything is Awesome” with the lyrics:

Everything is cool when you’re part of a team

Everything is awesome, when we’re living our dream

Everything is better when we stick together

Side by side, you and I gonna win forever

Well, this whole thing may sound like child’s play but the interesting point is that serious business leaders, or people serious about business regardless of position, are now slowly and less reluctantly paying attention to unconventional sources of inspiration, knowledge and even strategy. LEGO is not new to business, and goes way beyond being a toymaker. A globally recognised executive program, LEGO Serious Play, is designed to improve performance and enhance innovation, as well build collaboration. The research behind it has proven that the value of creative play and collaborative work is, without a shadow of a doubt, very dependent on a capacity to think and act outside the square.

The company behind this program, which was initiated by two professors who in the early 1990s were prepared to go beyond conventional thinking, quotes ever so quotable Plato: “You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than you can from a lifetime of conversation“. This is an element of collaboration that is familiar to most who have tried it – knowing the people you work with and building trust. Play should not be seen as a shortcut to what otherwise would be a longer process, but it also should not be ignored or thought of as ‘just play’.

In the world of demanding competition and severe disruptions, enterprises that can integrate knowledge and tools from variety of sources are fast realising that value is either created or destroyed. Understanding the process behind both can mean the difference between prospering and merely surviving. This is where a creative approach to building value by focusing on the delivery of what Morten T Hansen defines as the ‘collaborative premium’, comes into play. Excuse the pun. Along with LEGO, another regular creative outfit which owes a lot to the late Steve Jobs, Pixar, is a constant source of inspiration and knowledge ideas that businesses are starting to take notice of. Only recently there has been a lot of attention paid to the way Pixar fosters creative collaboration to produce a product that is way ahead of the pack. Next time you see a fish, remember that Nemo came from a very complex collaborative process that clearly produced the type of financial success most business leaders would envy.

These are only a couple of examples which are by no means limited. And, there is a very clear reason why they are becoming relevant in today’s business. Value creation has shifted to ‘the dream society‘ where things such as story, identity, narrative, values etc are in fact the key markets overtaking traditional goods and services. In order to create new value, business offerings have to be smarter in creating the story of a product and service beyond its marketing campaign. This value can then be propagated to beyond the limits normally associated with tangible goods. In turn, the ability to create value collaboration that is clever, strategic, creative and inspired by different sources is the principal business driver.

 

Sign up (see menu on the left) and join the ROADMENDER conversation

ROADMENDER Recommends

When exactly do you stop learning? Is there such a point in time? Most people (or perhaps I hang out with the wrong tribe) would instinctively say that you never stop learning. That’s a kind of conventional wisdom we think we live by. In reality I think it’s more a nice theory than what really happens. Learning is an attitude. It is also an intellectual need. In fact it is many things. Why we learn things varies significantly, but self-interest may be the most obvious reason when it comes to business. The problem with our learning attitude is that we are by and large a society made up of individuals who are not prone to explore, take risks and be more forward thinking. The comfort zone where we are given direction and a carrot works just fine. I can’t see how that will be the situation in say 20 years. Many have already made a point that in future we will all need to be entrepreneurs. That alone is, or at least should be, strong motivation to check our learning attitude and engage more proactively in it. Perhaps that is why, as a student of collaboration, I, relentlessly pursue the idea that curating articles on collaboration will be of some help to those who want to deal with obstacles that prevent them from learning.

..attitudes...

..attitudes…

 

71% of businesses failing on enterprise-grade collaboration

A survey by the Association for Information and Image Management [AIIM] showed that 89 per cent of respondents think that a formal collaboration tool is a vital component of a company’s infrastructure. The lack of a tool of that ilk has meant that workers are using the products such as Dropbox, iCloud and OneDrive to communicate with external partners despite the fact that tools of that nature are banned by most businesses. “As cloud solutions become a part of everyday life, it’s inevitable that employees will begin to use the consumer-grade file-share tools that they recognise to ease business processes if there aren’t suitable alternatives available, even if they aren’t the most effective or secure for business use,” said Piers Linney, co-CEO of Outsourcery. The survey went on to show that 71 per cent of workers think that the organisation for which they work has shortfalls when it comes to technical support for collaboration. Another 40 per cent admitted to feeling strongly that the business poorly supports collaboration and the adoption of consumer level solutions is likely to continue unless development of enterprise-grade solutions is prioritised…READ ON

 

10 Keys To Making Collaboration Work

collaboration toolboxYou probably already know that you need to be collaborating better. After all, there is no shortage of research, studies, case examples, articles (and more articles) full of reasons why better collaboration is good for business. So I probably don’t need to convince you. Nearly every organization I talk to says that internal collaboration is a priority for them. They’re investing a crazy amount of money in enterprise social platforms and collaboration technologies, for starters. But even culturally, companies simply want to know how they can knock down some of those internal walls and silos and make the most of the knowledge and expertise they have in their organization. The big question, then, is not why but how…READ ON

 

4 Signs You Need A New Approach To Collaboration

If you’re seeking to improve collaboration and communication across your organization, tools like SharePoint are able to help. But technology alone isn’t going to make a difference. To truly embrace the changes that collaboration tools enable, you need to change how your organization operates and thinks, according to an article on Re/code. The article highlights several pitfalls to avoid if you want to truly transform your workplace and drive cultural changes. “In other words, if you find yourself doing these things, it’s time to reconsider the tools and processes on your team, and try something new,” Steven Sinofsky writes. Here are four signs that, as Sinofsky puts it, “you’re doing it wrong.”…READ ON

 

Why Your Business Needs To Break Into Emerging Markets

Looking for the next big opportunity to grow your business? It might just be thousands of miles away–but instantly reachable through low-cost digital technology. Globalization has destroyed middle-class jobs in developed economies but it is also creating whole new groups of customers that U.S. businesses can serve. The action is in emerging markets, where millions of people have finally escaped grinding poverty and can now afford what is considered a middle-class lifestyle. But entrepreneurs need to figure out how to capitalize on that opportunity in order for it to create more jobs here…READ ON

 

The ABCs of Transformational CSR

responsible business

You’d be hard pressed to find any mid- to large-sized company today that is not paying some mind to its role as a good corporate citizen. We all know it’s the right thing to do and, in this age of transparency, you’re at risk if you ignore it. The Responsible Business Continuum. But there’s a huge divide between those that pay lip service and those that can measure results. We call this the Responsible Business Continuum. On this continuum, the smart ones have figured out how to leverage citizenship for business advantage:…READ ON

 

Collaboration is about having a common goal

When it comes to sharing (information, facts, pictures, data) there is one single thing that differentiates true collaboration from mere communication and exchange: a common goal. We collaborate when we all have an end in mind and that has to be the same for each and everyone. From there it emerges the power of passing ideas, information around. It is then when we bring the best of us so the whole group can move on. If we don’t have that same goal, what is it that we do? Well, call it building relationships, relating to others, having fun, even gossiping, but it is not collaboration…READ ON

 

 

…and now for something completely different…

 

The slow death of purposeless walking

walkingA number of recent books have lauded the connection between walking – just for its own sake – and thinking. But are people losing their love of the purposeless walk? Walking is a luxury in the West. Very few people, particularly in cities, are obliged to do much of it at all. Cars, bicycles, buses, trams, and trains all beckon. Instead, walking for any distance is usually a planned leisure activity. Or a health aid. Something to help people lose weight. Or keep their fitness. But there’s something else people get from choosing to walk. A place to think. Wordsworth was a walker. His work is inextricably bound up with tramping in the Lake District. Drinking in the stark beauty. Getting lost in his thoughts…READ ON

 

Sign up (see menu on the left) and join the ROADMENDER conversation

Is business resilience possible without collaborative advantage?

Collaborative advantage, a concept developed by Rosabeth Moss Kanter and now 20 years old, continues to gain traction. The major difference between the time when the Professor Kanter developed the concept and now, is a massive environmental shift. Collaboration today is not only a response to wicked problems on a societal level, but is much more closely aligned to challenges faced by small agencies across the public, private and community sectors. Collaborative advantage is now relevant in a way it has not been in the past.

effective collaboration

David Hume, a contemporary of the father of modern economic thought Adam Smith, argued that it is not possible to win an argument against a person who defends an opinion in which one does not believe; the mere reason being that when someone holds a view that is not grounded in reason, then debating it is fruitless. I think this is a relevant point today as there are a growing number of people who are starting to believe in collaboration based on reason and facts. This in itself is solid ground upon which to further the discipline, which is open for debate and discussion among those who believe in it. The relevancy of this is that only then can we further explore the importance of business concepts such as collaborative advantage.

Collaborative advantage is an outcome that has proven to be hard to achieve. Mastery of collaboration management and governance are only two of the absolute essentials for it to become reality. I argue that collaborative advantage is necessary if a business (perhaps slightly less so in the government context) is to be resilient. In this instance I refer to a ‘resilient’ rather than ‘sustainable’ business as I increasingly agree with the view that resilience is replacing sustainability as the principal factor in the lifetime of an enterprise. Collaborative advantage is a unique form of value that is not easily defined by an algorithm. While it can be measured and applied, it is not something that can be precisely predicted. I would not go as far as suggesting that collaborative advantage is a case of 1+1=more than it should, however in almost all cases it can be argued that the value of collaboration advantage is not only in what is clearly and precisely measurable, but also in the intangible opportunities it offers to smart collaborating partners.

Unifying resources such as knowledge, skills, social capital, etc. brings about collaborative advantage that is shaped by both the partners themselves, as well as a broader set of factors that inform the marketplace. Collaborative advantage is not entirely confined to the sum of all parts that collaborating partners bring, as much as it creates new potential for innovative and creative solutions that otherwise would remain undetectable in the course of strategy formulation or/and strategy execution. This specific quality is precisely one of the key reasons why collaboration requires ‘creatives’ to be involved in the decision making. To clarify the idea of creatives I strongly agree with the following factors identified by Barry. M Staw in his research work on organisational psychology: risk takers, nonconformists, persistent, flexible and put in long hard hours. However, creatives are also described as individuals who pose independence of judgment, autonomy and self-confidence, all of which is valid, but when it comes to collaboration the former set of factors are far more critical. The likelihood of the emergence of highly deviant ideas that creatives come up with in a collaborative setting is in a large part due also to the combined information, knowledge, resources etc that collaborating partners contribute. Therefore, the collaborative advantage can offer solutions that while not conventional, are highly effective and relevant to an enterprise. If these solutions are then applied in a business process, it is possible for a business enterprise to be much more resilient than when it follows a conventional path. Regardless of size and type, resilient companies recognise that resilience in business is not confined to the ability to deal with a disruption as much as it is about the ability to continue to grow after the disruption. A critical part of the ability to grow is competitive advantage, which is precisely what collaborative advantage can offer.

 

Sign up (see menu on the left) and join the ROADMENDER conversation