Great things happen when we work together.

Collaboration is no longer just a strategy – it is the key to long-term business success and competitiveness. 

Those working in change and transformation have long understood this fact as we juggle the demands of internal & external stakeholders, align objectives to ensure common understanding and deliver solutions that bring people together.

We have all had experience of working in programmes where a lack of collaboration has resulted in programme failure.

So, what can we learn from these experiences and how can we ensure that, as Transformation Leaders, we integrate a collaborative approach to ensure successful delivery of change and transformation?

Here are my 7 steps to successful collaboration

  1. Collaboration is about working together – as the world as become more complex and global, businesses have become interdependent upon each other. This has required a mindset change for many, especially when pulling together contractual terms and conditions that often fail to reflect the collaborative nature of the relationship by creating ‘win : lose’ conditions.
  • Collaboration requires Leadership – leadership to foster collaborative relationships across the supply chain in the first place but then (more importantly) leadership to maintain the collaborate nature of the relationship when things go wrong (which they will undoubtedly do).  As a transformation leader, one essential skill that you will need is the ability to keep everyone ‘on-board’.
  • Collaboration requires a clear vision – not only a clear vision but also a consistent view of that vision across all parties.  Taking time upfront to ensure this consistency and ensuring that it is understood by all stakeholders is essential in ensuring that the commercial aspects of the relationship reflects the vision. Time taken at the start will save a lot of time, cost and heartache as you progress through the change initiative.
  • Start your collaboration on something simple, but always think big – collaboration takes time and energy and like anything, gets easier the more experience and success that you have together.  As such, it is always better to start small, build up your collaboration muscle on something simple, something that you can deliver quickly and relatively easily – this builds trust and as you deposit more into your ‘Trust Bank’, the bigger the investment that you can call upon to get you through the challenging times.  Going into something big without these smaller wins and without any deposits in the ‘Trust Bank’ often results in a breakdown in relations when the waters get choppy.
  • Collaboration takes two ears and one mouth – and the willingness to use them in this ratio!  A big part of building trust is to form a strong relationship in the first place. To do this, become an active listener and help the other parties where you can.  I always remember a quote that someone told me years ago “Be Interested rather than Interesting”. Never is this more apt than when building up a collaborative relationship.  Listen to alternative views, invest time in understanding these and empathise.
  • Collaboration is a journey not a destination – as highlighted earlier, it more of a mindset than a ‘thing’ and like anything you will have successes and failures along the way. However, don’t give up when things don’t go to plan.  Step back, reflect and learn from the experience so that you can apply these lessons in the next collaboration opportunity.
  • Collaborations are based upon a strong networks and teams that have complementary skills and experiences – integrate different perspectives, build a team of diverse organisations or individuals and embrace new ideas and approaches. 

One of the core objectives of #TLH is to help you to build your network of relationships with people that you know, like and trust – these will develop into collaborations moving forward as you embrace opportunities presented from within the network.

As a Transformation Leader, if you can act as a conductor and ‘lead’ your organisation, the key stakeholders and third-party organisations along the journey of embedding a true collaborative partnership – the benefits will be clear for all to see.

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