Collaboration, Trust and Accountability- part 2
What’s my role in a collaborative organization?



Editor’s note: This is the second and final part of 6 Characteristics of a Collaborative Organization

The trust factor

Collaboration is at the core of being human, people have been collaborating since the dawn of mankind in order to survive and maybe because of this, central to all good collaboration is trust. Trust, after all is essential in any long-term arrangement, and a genuine spirit of trust and togetherness in a group or among companies can pay huge dividends.

Why? Because it eliminates the need to look over your shoulder when you entrust and allow others to carry part of the work and makes you much more focused on your own tasks and efficient at executing them.

In modern day collaborative organizations, technology has created much more efficient ways in which to work cross functionally, cross culturally and in crowdsourcing ideas, which allow for a reach beyond the walls of any business.

Collaborative vs. Accountable?

Collaboration does not mean letting people off the hook for the consequences of their actions, instead it enables accountability to travel in many different paths across and through an organization. It can result in disagreements but in good collaborative environments disagreements should never result in an inability to work together toward a common goal.

“Once I speak some stupid thing it can become a beautiful thing,” says Iñárritu, who finds that together he and his collaborators grapple with an idea and turn it into something worthwhile. “Somebody else may return to me with a stupid idea and then maybe I can transform it. We speak something and it can be transformed. But that interchange of ideas is [like] a mirror you hold up to yourself. I find that extraordinarily useful to make much more potential than what I have in my mind.

Alejandro González Iñárritu” 2014 Oscar winning director

What’s my part in creating the collaborative organization?

The investment in collaboration really does pay off in many ways. From innovation and operational efficiencies to knowledge that is gained that can help to stretch the boundaries of an organization.

It is important to note that no collaborative business model can function without an organizational wide “buy-in” from all areas of a business – otherwise it becomes soloed and cannot function optimally. Don’t expect everyone to buy in immediately – it can be after all a significant disruptive change. Businesses are based on people, and everyone has a different ability to adapt to change. In the best case scenarios, organizational changes help to “weed out” those who will not or cannot adapt in favor of those who will readily accept and adopt the change.

What’s in it for me?

As a leader you can expect some growing pains with change, however the outcomes of creating a successful collaborative organization outweighs this significantly. The goal of creating a collaborative organization is quite simply to help people share as naturally as possible through empowerment, flexibility, and engagement, which ultimately results in a work environment that is efficient and profitable.

Some could argue that this new thinking is best left to tech start ups or internet based companies, but in fact even more established companies like IBM and GE are evolving their own derivatives of a collaborative system. IBM’s model revolves around “agile management”, in which self-governing teams have regular “scrums” to make decisions, GE’s version called FastWorks, is a system inspired by the “lean start-up” movement.

Ultimately, the best collaborations result in much more than a solution to a problem, they leave behind information, the expansion of institutional knowledge, learning and in best cases a transformative change.

From the Greek Aesop “United we stand, divided we fall” in business, this means sharing and leveraging resources that enable you to reach beyond your current position, whether it be financially or access to new markets, collaboration and unity between two divisions or strategic alliances between companies can help both entities reach beyond where they might have on their own.

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