“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” —Charles Darwin
Business people are often caricatured as hard-nosed, competitive and single-minded – their mantra “my way or the high way”. But the truth is, this stereotype is not accurate and all organisations are waking up to the fact that to survive, let alone flourish, collaboration strategies are crucial for success.
Collaboration can positively impact in a number of dimensions. Below is a checklist of just a few of the possible choices:
So what to do if you want to collaborate?
7 Steps to Collaboration!
1. Articulate why you want to collaborate and consider whether this could be achieved through other approaches. What is your key driver: Cost reduction? New customers? Innovation?
2. Identify the potential partner(s) and research them. Are they really the right ones for you? Do they have the capabilities you require? Could you work with them?
3. Approach them direct or through a trusted adviser at the right level and identify whether they are keen to talk more. At this point you should be careful about giving too much information away but also you need to generate sufficient rapport. Remember most collaboration breaks down at this stage through a lack of trust.
4. Identify an agenda of areas you can discuss. You might want to agree confidentiality arrangements.
5. Agree a timetable and approach. You don’t need to go the whole hog…why not build trust through piloting an approach? There are a whole range of collaboration options from preferred partner status to full mergers. Consider what approach will suit you both.
6. Even for limited collaborations it is important to document the agreement, considering areas such as:
· Purpose and objectives of the collaboration.
· Key targets.
· Escalation routes.
· Review and termination dates.
· Allocation of costs and revenue.
· Ownership of intellectual property and assets.
7. Have regular reviews to discuss progress – remember Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Chris Lorimer is an
experienced management consultant who has helped many owners, Directors and staff to achieve more.