Collaboration is not a discretionary strategy: it is primarily an emergent business sustainability driver. A common habit of many managers is to aim for ‘low hanging fruit’ rather than taking a long term view. Meeting monthly sales budgets is a prerogative that leaves little room for risky and in many ways disruptive strategies or approaches such as collaboration. Be that as it may, nobody gets out unscathed from the trap offered by the sweetness of low hanging fruit.
So what can be done to address this problem? Without pretending that one simple solution would bear equally measurable results to every type of organisation, I would invoke something that can best be described as ‘intensive purpose’; an approach where the purpose of the total endeavour by any enterprise is underpinned by all key drivers, no matter how complicated they may seem at first.
Naturally or not, it is rare to hear of a business manager who does not account for all drivers in their strategy. However, it is often the case that some emerging drivers are ignored, particularly if they are evolving and thereby lending themselves perfectly for doubt by established conventional wisdom
This leads to a second factor: examination of emergent drivers with increased opportunistic attitude. Collaboration as a strategy invites us to think about competition as an innovation platform which produces new opportunities for growth. Collaboration is then a market creation practice as much as a mode of production. Collaborating entities realise that collaboration is not about splitting the pie in equal parts, but rather first and foremost about making a better tasting pie. This new taste thus creates new demand, which previously was not on the radar of either of the collaborating entities.
This is not as same as suggesting that innovation cannot happen without collaboration. It is the innovation for growth specifically that is far more likely to occur through collaboration, which is conceived as a business driver. Some aspects of this type of collaboration is likely to make certain practices in any organisation obsolete or redundant, which, when it happens, is a good indicator that the organisation is undergoing real growth-driven change. This should be a prerogative of all enterprises: a discretionary approach to collaboration is equivalent to avoiding investment in major IT systems or the like. Postponing an attitudinal shift, from assuming that the collaboration can be adopted at any time, to understanding that it takes time for the practice to mature into a solid business culture, is not a matter of managerial discretion. Rather, it is a question of business leadership and accountability whereby business resilience is undoubtedly dependent on how well enterprises understand, adapt and integrate emergent drivers.
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