Collaboration is a Key Competitive Advantage

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RP_Group_blueIn the 20th century, the key to business strategy was the linear value chain. The goal was to maximize bargaining power with buyers and suppliers, while at the same time minimizing threats from new market entrants and substitute goods. A strategy was like a game of chess and you had to maneuver all the right pieces in all the right places.

Today, that linear world has broken down and we operate in a semantic economy where everything connects. It no longer matters what resources you control, but what you can access and many of the best assets lie outside your organization. Firms that can collaborate win. What is collaboration all about?

SOCIAL ECONOMY
Today, that linear world has broken down and we operate in a semantic economy where everything connects. It no longer matters what resources you control, but what you can access and many of the best assets lie outside your organization. When everything is connected, closing yourself off means that you are more likely to lose access to valuable resources than you are to protect anything that can’t be duplicated elsewhere. That’s why now we need to use platforms to access ecosystems of talent, technology, and information. Nobody can go it alone anymore. Strategy in a networked world can no longer focus solely on efficiency.

Today many large companies see themselves as essentially utility companies, providing fundamental technology and letting smaller firms and startups explore new business models. Innovation has come to be seen as largely a matter of agility and adaptation. Small, nimble players can adapt to changing conditions much faster than industry giants. That gives them an advantage over large, bureaucratic firms in bringing new technologies and other products to market.

That’s why today’s economy is a social economy with collaboration at its center. In the past, we could dominate by accumulating resources and driving efficiency, but now agility and interoperability that rule the day. We need to shift our focus from assets and capabilities to trust, design and networked organizations.

SUCCESFUL COLLABORATION
Collaboration isn’t simply about “being nice to each other”. Effective collaboration, whether between individuals or whole businesses, is about strong, robust relationships where partners can scrutinize each other and deal with conflicts constructively in an environment based on trust.

Wikipedia says: “A Collaboration is a purposeful relationship in which all parties strategically choose to cooperate in order to achieve shared or overlapping objectives.”

Herminia Ibarra says: Collaboration is a way of working that attracts and involves people outside one’s formal control, organization, and expertise to accomplish common goals. Understanding what collaboration is not is a crucial part of getting better at it.

At Collaboration Growers we have developed the Collaboration Wheel. It is a 6 step process which guides you in terms of setting up your collaboration platform. If you would like to know more about the Collaboration Wheel you can check out this blogpost. The process has 6 steps:

  • Define the need and create awareness
  • Build the guiding governance
  • Build the collaboration platform
  • Define the customer collaborative activities
  • Get moving: Seek, assess, validate and engage
  • Stay on top of things: Manage and exit

The world needs new solutions & more effective collaboration to solve some of the biggest challenges. That is why we inspire companies to move to more open forms of strategic innovation. We are doing that by mobilizing capabilities and resources for mutual benefits and by putting more focus on trust in the relationship. Get inspired on the Collaboration Growers platform.

 

The Collaboration Wheel – Your Tool for Successful Collaborations

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In a time of rapid change the ability to innovate and change quickly and effectively, again and again, is perhaps the only enduring competitive advantage. Those firms that can innovate and change constantly will thrive. Those that do not or cannot be left behind. This demands that companies seek outside their own ecosystem for ideas and execution in timely speed. Companies need to collaborate.How could a structured approach look like in the entire lifecycle of the relationship? 

We have developed the Collaboration Wheel, a tool which can help you create successful collaborations.

1. DEFINING THE NEED AND CREATING AWARENESS
As a company you need to be able to explain why you are looking for inspiration outside your own ecoinnovation system and most importantly how should it benefit your company? It is important that the open approach is anchored in your company´s strategy. It is also important that your leaders have a collaborative mindset. Check out this blogpost on Collaborative Leadership skills. Keywords:

  • Alignment with your company´s strategic objectives
  • Objective with your company´s Collaboration or Open Innovation Manifesto
  • Collaborative Leadership approach

2. GUIDING GOVERNANCE
The governance structure behind your approach is your backbone. The question is what type of collaboration culture you would like your employees to work by. What are their current skills and how much trust are they capable of and willing to put into the relationship? From an idea is generated to the idea is implemented – what are the roles and responsibilitues in that proces – and what happens in the relation if it does not get implemented. Keywords:

  • Creating a collaborative culture
  • Assessing people collaborative skills
  • Assessing the company´s collaboration maturity
  • Trustometer – Ecosystem trust
  • Stakeholder management
  • Decision making process
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Intellectual property Management

3. COLLABORATION PLATFORM (PEOPLE WITH PEOPLE)
Now that your backbone is in place and anchored in the strategy it is time to engage the people that are part of the process. What sort of tools and processes are you going to utilize for knowledge exploration, retention and exploitation? Keywords:

  • Knowledge exploration
  • Knowledge retention
  • Knowledge exploitation

4. CUSTOMER COLLABORATIVE ACTIVITIES
How is that your partners should be involved in your ecosystem, what sort of information are you going to share with them and how will you assist them? Keywords:

  • Ecosystem involvement
  • Customer communication
  • Customer assistance

5. GET MOVING
You have the system in place. Now it is time to seek out the ecosystem partners, assess their willingness and validate their capabilities. Keywords:

  • Seek ideas and ecosystem partners
  • Assess willingness
  • Validate ecosystem partner capabilities
  • Engage, collaborate and build trust

6. STAY ON TOP OF THINGS
It takes trust to manage a relationship. Do you have the knowledge about what triggers trust and how to use it effectively in your relationship?
If the relationship is not benefitting the company and the strategic direction it is time to say goodbye. How is the process and what triggers it? Keywords:

  • Manage relationship and maintain trust
  • Exit strategy, triggers and process

The world needs new solutions & more effective collaboration to solve some of the biggest challenges. That is why we inspire companies to move to more open forms of strategic innovation. We are doing that by mobilizing capabilities and resources for mutual benefits and by putting more focus on trust in the relationship. Get inspired on the Collaboration Growers platform.

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