I was having a conversation with my business partner Jacqueline A. Hinds MA (HRD) CEIC MCEP where we discussed collaborative working. We were trying to unpick the dynamics of collaborative working.
Collaborative working can be done in different ways; two or more organisations can work together. Approaches range from informal networks and alliances, through joint delivery of projects to full mergers. Our discussion centred around alliances through joint delivery of projects. The pitfalls and positive outcomes that can be had when undertaking this approach.
We both agreed collaborative working should not be entered into lightly. due diligence should be undertaken. To make collaborative working a positive experience, there should be a shared goal/outcome that would benefit both parties. The Collaboration should be formalised by a signed agreement outlining how you both plan to work together, ensuring that there are no ambiguities.
Collaboration does not come easy to some. There are those who would rather have an adversarial approach than a collaborative one because it may be felt that working with someone in the same business area or even within a completely different business area will mean their brand may be diluted. Done correctly this should not be the case, collaboration should enhance both parties. An example of a successful collaboration would be Nike and Apple. It was a move that helped both parties provide a better experience to customers and no doubt increased their market share which in turn, increased their profits.
I have never rushed into collaboration with others, because I am a cautious person by nature. I try to be open-minded when approached by others to collaborate, I try and weigh up the pros and cons and ask myself, is it the right time for me, will this collaboration be in line with other things I am working on. What benefits will it bring?
Collaboration does not have to be companies coming together, it could also be two people coming together which was the case for Jacqueline and I. We had and still have a shared vision and values that led us to form Synergised Solutions Ltd. Our relationship has grown out of innovation and the desire to see change, one project at a time.
I have also been involved in collaborative working as the Founder of the #EthnicityPayGap Campaign. Collaborating with like-minded people and organisations is important for me to raise the profile of the campaign and the important issue surrounding the Ethnicity Pay Gap. I have had some great collaborations that have led me to be part of research projects, discussions in parliament and working with the media. All these experiences have helped to elevate the campaign.
So, when shouldn’t you collaborate? If your goals are pushing in different directions, attempting to collaborate will quickly become a contentious situation. If the cost of collaboration exceeds the benefits, this would be a good time to reconsider. Unclear objectives and a lack of operational guidelines will quickly cause any collaboration to deteriorate. If you haven’t signed an agreement outlining the terms of business, you may find yourself in a challenging situation.
Ultimately people/organisations need to decide if collaborating will enhance their business . Collaboration has the potential to increase visibility and improve credibility. Collaboration isn’t for everyone, going it alone has its rewards and benefits. You have to make the choice that works for you and your business.