STOP! If you are a child of the 1970’s you will know the rest. If you are not, it goes something like this: “Collaborate and listen”. Collaborative work models are becoming all the rage in business. Australian Business and Qantas are doing it. Qantas and Emirates have just done it. Australian Times and Astute Radio are doing it. As the collaborative work model becomes increasingly popular, it is important to remember that some collaborations are more useful to you and your business than others.
Collaboration is the new black. As the financial crisis continues and the UK narrowly escapes a triple dip recession, businesses are forced to think of more creative ways to generate revenue. Many organisations are linking together to find synergies and effective solutions. Organisations such as Creative Works London and London Fusion help businesses and educational institutions share knowledge for the benefit of us all. A recent Australian Government Report, The Australian Innovation System Report 2012 states: “OECD analysis shows that a major global trend in business innovation involves ‘networked innovation’, whereby firms increasingly seek external sources of knowledge, often from the public knowledge bases, and through formal collaboration.”
The paradox of today’s technologically connected world is that many of us feel disconnected with ourselves and others. The antidote is to start networking and collaborating with those we find a connection with. By coming out of our shells and giving others a “fair go”, we can start to remove judgements and develop win-win situations.
However, collaborating needs to be undertaken with care. For synergies to occur, step back and assess the relationship before you dive in. Here are three questions you can ask yourself.
1. Are your values aligned?
Consider what your own values and the values of your business are. Once you have understood your value system, find out whether your potential collaborators are on the same page. Aligned values can help you identify commonalities in approach, minimise misunderstandings and conflict, and also identify potential areas of contention.
2. Is your vision the same?
Be clear about the outcome you want for the collaboration. Draw, write or create a vision board of your goal and how you intend to get there. Getting excited about ideas and the potential is easy.
Implementation is another matter. Clearly communicate the day-to-day steps of what needs to happen to reach the joint vision. This way, everyone can decide on what roles they take on and how they will contribute to the end result.
3. Are you both in the right place in your business and lives?
Good intentions and ideas are a great starting point. If priorities are misaligned, there can be friction. Understand and acknowledge where the collaboration sits in your hierarchy of priorities. Compare that with how the other parties prioritise the venture. If you are honest about how important the venture is and the resources people are willing to input, it becomes easier to allocate roles and implement appropriate reward structures.
Values, vision and priorities can change as you progress. Make sure you check in regularly and communicate what has changed and what is on target.
Collaborations are a wonderful way of producing win-win situations. However, effective collaborations require planning and assessment to lay the foundations for success. If nothing else, what seems to have evolved in the last few years of financial turmoil is the notion that working cohesively together can bring better results for everyone.