A recent study by Deloitte Access Economics on behalf of Google, paints an amazing picture about collaboration. The report is another in a string of research findings that raises a really interesting question: Which businesses are going to maintain relevance in five years’ time? This period, Deloitte says, will be like the ‘big bang’ in terms of disruption to the business environment, particularly to revenue sources; and something they suggest two thirds of businesses in Australia are facing.
The study also finds that businesses who have a collaboration strategy are outperforming their competition handsomely, citing that those businesses that see collaboration as important to their overall business strategy “are four (4) times more likely to see growth in their bottom line”. The direct link between collaboration strategy and the bottom line is clear and not at all surprising because along with the bottom line, businesses with a collaborative strategy are twice as likely to outgrow their competition. Other studies internationally have also shown this. Similarly impressive and of critical note are the impacts on people and performance. The study found that when employees collaborate, on average 73% of them do a better job and 56% are more satisfied. Those two statistics alone should be enough for any business executive concerned with competitiveness.
What seems very interesting is that collaboration is something that employees want more of in their workplace. It is also a practice that seems to correlate with levels of engagement in the workplace and overall well-being. All these factors have been well documented over the past decade or so. While some companies are investing seriously in collaboration, and we see its emergence as a strategic discipline, there are still those who seem hell bent on ignoring present and future demands on businesses. The practices to date have been largely concerned with creating teams of people who are a better fit to an economy that is truly yesteryears’. Emerging evidence shows that recruitment practices and the way we structure businesses to get the best out of people performance, does not match the new era of value creation; an era beyond information and the knowledge economy. The new form of economic value creation is far more about creative capacity, personal resilience and adaptability, than purely technical aptitude.
When we understand that people are more likely to be innovative when they collaborate (the Deloitte study indicates that this applies to 60% of employees), then it is not a stretch to see the logic in making the right investment in people. Investment in collaboration is smart. Its focus pays off in a range of ways, including the likelihood of people being better performers in the new economy. As studies have consistently shown, the talent aspect is a better predictor of performance in the new paradigm, where people are expected to come up with creative solutions, ideas and approaches on a more regular basis in order to deal with disruptions and stay competitive.
The demand for more collaboration in the workplace is clear. Along with the Deloitte report, other research studies internationally have released the same findings. In the Australian context, if this demand was met we would see an additional A$9 billion! And, that is on top of the A$46 billion already contributed by collaboration. Collaborative approaches to business seem to fit outliers’ profiles at the moment. The people who champion collaboration and are finding ways to make their business activity relevant and therefore more likely to be competitive, are outliers which, whether we like it or not, will become tomorrow’s norm. For some that will be a tough change to manage. The good news is that collaboration can be learned. It can be applied in all industries across all fields. It can be done well. Most importantly it will soon become a major KPI for anyone expecting to make a living through an honest day’s work.