A ROADMENDER regular, guest blogger Keith Bancroft, returns with more insight into collaboration as a means to better ready enterprises. Keith and I have collaborated on the development of what we believe to be an innovative way of gaining a degree of business readiness that focuses on a paradigm shift within any business unit. The project, Better Ready Enterprises, brings together our combined experience from across all sectors and a variety of industries in both Australia and Europe. The following blog by Keith touches on some points relevant to collaboration and business competition.
In my last Roadmender blog I posed the question of “are we ready for collaboration” by way of asking some of the key questions ourselves and that of the potential collaborative partners etc…
Following on from this theme I have chosen to elaborate a little further as to how we get to a stage of being ready to collaborate. In theory this seems not that difficult to achieve and could be construed as common sense but, like most partnerships and collaboration they always have the potential in becoming complex to the point where it overwhelms invested parties and we walk away feeling somewhat wounded by the whole affair and the objective still remains undefeated.
So in order to be better equipped to go into such a sacred ground as forming a relationship with outsiders, I believe we have to start at grass roots level what I mean about that is (you’ve guessed it) we first have to look in our own backyard. The reasoning behind this is most organisations are failing internally to get to first base in their own world of dare I say it “joined up thinking”.
This failure starts to manifest itself at an individual level with their own set of experiences circumstances, predigests and outlook. As far as the organisational approach is concerned you only have to look and an org chart to quickly see where our behaviour starts i.e. lots boxes hierarches and reporting lines similarly to that of mechanical circuit diagram. Same could be said of our role and position descriptions in terms putting restrictions around how we are supposed to think and perform. So it comes to no surprise why organisations have become not only siloed in its thinking but competitive in nature towards its own residents so to all in tense and purpose it sees no value in collaboration in fact more alarming it regards fellow colleagues and business units as more of a threat. With these types of behaviours how can we be ready to trust third parties when we fail to tap into the value in our own environment?
Note By the way I’m not suggestions we don’t have org structures etc. merely that we shouldn’t view them as boxes and lines. I would suggest we look at them from more organic perspective.
So the big question on everyone’s lips is how to you break down these behaviours. We are all thinking that we’ve put the most advanced systems on the planet in place and we’ve followed all best practice processes and methodologies and even been on a number of some change management courses as well as brought consultants but still very little change and the behaviour remains the same in the long term. Incidentally I always notice people who have just come back from a change management course, they come back with new vigour and passion only to be received by their peers as if they’ve caught the bubonic plague.
The answer is we have to create different habits and habitats across the organisation. We have to start putting aside our prejudices which are based on our past i.e. you can’t drive forward looking in the rear view mirror. We have to start by finding the real value and usefulness of both individuals and groups regardless of their current resume, role or box on an org chart…they’re not a product they don’t have manufacture date or an obsolete button. We have to start tapping into not only are own resources but of those around us and mining for value within the organisation itself. Seeing the environment not as mechanism of threats built on hierarchies’ structures and methodologies which were originally developed in the 19th Century as part of Industrial Revolution.
Once you start to break down this internal barriers and start this type of thinking you can become much more aware of not only of the resources and values from within but that of potential partners and collaborations. By adopting some these behaviours can we then start to form some selection criteria and form the basis what’s required towards collaboration that will bring real value to all invested parties.
I have only touched the surface here of becoming ready for collaboration and it comes to no surprise that we have to start with ourselves which in theory sounds obvious and quite simple but in practice is another story.
Keith Bancroft is a strategist specialising in business readiness. Over the years, Keith has worked with a variety of large commercial enterprises in the UK, formulating initiatives for competitive growth. Keith has recently been involved in collaboration with a number of business leaders who have translated this type of thinking and approach into a business ready readiness framework. Keith can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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