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What is Collaboration and Why is It Important Today?

What is Collaboration and Why is it Important Today?

What is Collaboration and Why is it Important Today?

Collaboration is essential in business today, because nobody can succeed on their own.

Collaboration is a way to harness the collective intelligence of people from different organisations, in different industries and locations, with the aim of producing new products, new services and/or promoting their various brands to each other's markets.

We can categorise the different types in many ways.

1. Formal vs Informal.

Collaborations can be formal written agreements or informal arrangements. Example of informal: Corporate Coach Group and Cotswold Investigations, to create an investigation skills training course for managers.

2. Permanent vs Temporary.

Based upon a long range or a short range timeframe. What is considered to be long range or short range, is context related. If you are in the forestry industry, then long range is 100 years. If you are in the IT industry then, long range may be six months.

For example, the private finance initiative (PFI) was a United Kingdom government procurement policy aimed at creating "public-private partnerships" (PPPs) where private firms are contracted to complete and manage public projects. Initially launched in 1992 by Prime Minister John Major, PFI is part of the wider programme of privatisation presented as a means for increasing accountability and efficiency for public spending.

3. Strategic, or tactical, or single instance?

Strategic collaboration for a large project that will take years to complete. For example ATLAS is a particle physics experiment being performed with a special detector of the same name, in the Large Hadron Collider located at CERN, in Geneva.

Tactical collaboration such as Coca-Cola and Heinz: Collaborating to develop more sustainable containers which use less petroleum-based products and more plant-based products.

Single events such as the 2012 Olympic games, G4S and the Government.

4. Product / service creation or mutual marketing and name recognition.

Product and service creation: Collaboration between Adidas, Puma and Innovalley to produce innovative sports wear and accessories, which track and record performance levels of athletes.

The collaboration of Oxford University with global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the further development, large-scale manufacture and international distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University. Both partners agreed to operate on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, with only the costs of production and distribution being covered.

Marketing advantages. Both NASA and LEGO market each other's brands to children by having astronauts do scientific experiments using Lego, on the international space station. This makes Lego more appealing to a modern audience, and NASA accept Lego on board with the aim of sparking the interest of children and adolescents in the aerospace sector.

5. Effective or Not?

Is this a collaboration beneficial to all parties or not?

G4S collaborated with the Government on the transfer of prisoners from courts to prisons. Then G4s collaborated again to deliver prisons and detention centres for illegal immigrants and refugees.

G4S were given the task of security services for the 2012 Olympic games. This was a disaster, and led to a failure of security arrangements and necessitated the use of the Army to perform the task of security.

How can organisations collaborate effectively with others?

Rule One: Decide what is the exact purpose, reason and form of the collaboration.

Ensure that the nature of the collaboration is clearly understood by all parties involved.

  • Win-win is non-negotiable. Collaborators must trust each other.
  • Formal or informal.
  • Permanent or temporary.
  • Strategic or tactical.
  • Product / service creation or is it mutual marketing and accessing each others markets.

Rule Two: The goal must be specified.

The goal of the collaboration should be specified and defined. The goal is the aim, the mission, the objective, the vision of the project.

It is essential that the goal is communicated to everyone who needs to know in clear and specific terms, so that there is no possibility of misunderstanding. The collaborating parties must know exactly WHAT the goal is, WHY it is important, and HOW it is planned to be achieved.

Rule Three. The plan must be a joint plan.

There will be a joint planning committee, with members from all the collaborators involved in the process.

Assuming there are two collaborators, they must decide: what A wants, what B wants and what is logically possible.

Rule four: effective implementation must be co-ordinated, well designed and well executed.

The moment action is initiated, it will create feedback. Feedback on information that relates to the results of recent actions relative to the goal. The feedback will reveal one of three conditions:

  • The actions are taking us towards our goal: Effective action.
  • They are not taking us towards our goal: Ineffective action.
  • They are taking us away from our goal: Counterproductive action.

Rule five: Feedback channels between collaborating parties are always open and active.

Feedback is an active, not a passive, activity.

Rule six: Adaptive and responsive and evolve.

The world is a changing place and therefore the collaborations are adaptive and evolutionary. Opportunities are appearing and disappearing every day.

Although the situation always seems to be chaotic, the principles that govern successful collaborations remain constant.

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