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Thursday 28 August 2014

The more we keep the more we waste: key questions to ask

Goldcorp Inc., a large Canadian mining corporation, kept all its geological data to itself. This was consistent with the accepted assumptions and practices of the sector, which instinctively tended towards confidentiality and secrecy. Over time, the company became 'data rich', but efficiency and profitability poor. This was because Goldcorp failed to realise the value others external to the organisation could add to the data by analysing, manipulating, developing and presenting it in new, innovative and useful ways. Goldcorp's data was allowed to wither on the virtual vine, its juicy bits of information never harvested and fermented into vintage wisdom and sparkling insights.

 Key questions:

  • Are we keeping something to ourselves because it is easy and/or habitual to do so? (As mentioned above, the mining corporation Goldcorp initially kept its geological data to itself, in line with the habitual practice of its sector. It was only when this data was shared with others that Goldcorp was able to exploit its full value, improving the efficiency of its mining processes and increasing its profits.)        
  • Are we keeping something to ourselves because we fear we might lose out or be at a disadvantage if we share it with others? How do we know that this will be the outcome? (Probably at the heart of Goldcorp's initial unwillingness to share its data was an assumption or even fear that the corporation would lose something, be this a perceived competitive advantage or simply the ability to keep its financial issues and concerns to itself. The actual outcome was very different; it was an overall gain for the corporation in terms of efficiency and profit.)   
  • Are we keeping something to ourselves simply because we think it gives us status? (Interestingly, Goldcorp's Directors did not wholeheartedly support their Chief Executive's decision to share the corporation's geological data. Could it be that the Directors saw control of and access to data as powerful levers that could help maintain, emphasise and perhaps even justify their status?) 
  • Do we have resources, knowledge and people 'withering on the vine'? If so, who could help us harvest and use them to good effect? (Goldcorp's data was certainly 'withering on the vine' until people with new perspectives and ideas where able to access it and harvest its value.)

To see the full post click Here.

For more about collaboration go to: Sleeping-with-the-Enemy-Achieving-Collaborative-Success-2nd-Edition.

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