CSR Ideas

Enterprising Collaborative (EC): takes off in Australia

Enterprising Collaborative (EC) takes off in Australia.  Photo courtesy: Mike Gene O'Callaghan

Enterprising Collaborative (EC) takes off in Australia.
Photo courtesy: Mike Gene O’Callaghan

Several months ago I wrote about a new model of collaboration which I developed as a strategy to help a small not for profit organisation move towards an independent stream of revenue. Independent of limited government funding that is. This model is best described as the ‘enterprising collaborative’ (EC) model which, as I wrote then, 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 a multi-functional platform which incorporates Collaboration as a Service (CaaS) strategy, together with CSR and social entrepreneurialism”. The full article can be read here.

An EC is the combination of a community hub, a shared space, a learning and networking space, a commercial, not for profit project base, a business mentoring hub and more. And I am delighted to announce that an operational EC project was successfully launched on the Sunshine Coast last week in the presence of many distinguished guests. The buzz was phenomenal and it was almost without exception that people felt that this new space has a very bright future and is a fitting step forward for all stakeholders. The private business partners who poured a lot of energy into the project showed that, philanthropy aside, the business community can approach CSR using more entrepreneurial methods. With the success of collaboration as the basis for business growth increasingly being recognised, it did not surprise me nor my colleagues to witness the excellent reception received by the launch.

An enterprising collaborative is really about balance; a balance of interest and collaboration between the parties. While in this instance the stakeholders shared a considerable goal, they also had a set of specific outcomes they wanted to achieve to make their collaborative resilient. To paraphrase one of my colleagues who manages a major not for profit in Brisbane, it was great to see that collaboration produces tangible solutions for not for profits, businesses and government/s alike. The major focus of an enterprising collaborative is the commercial sustainability of the initiative which allows an almost unlimited capacity for adaptation to specific circumstances. However, I also recognise that in order to make things work it is vital to account for a diverse range of minor factors that can come into play when a collaborative project is envisaged. In the case of this first of its kind initiative in Australia (my research also leads me to believe that nothing like this has previously been trialled anywhere in the world), collaboration was the deliberate strategy employed to create new opportunities for growth for all parties involved.

As a recent survey of over 1000 company leaders by International Data Group (IDG) indicates; successful companies run on collaboration. In the age of ‘unresolved uncertainty’, businesses, be they community based or high level corporates, have to remain relevant and competitive; or in the words of Jack Welch (former chairman and CEO of GE), “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete”.

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