The latest version of my book Achieving Collaborative Success is now freely available to read and download. Click on my picture to get it.

Monday 20 October 2014

Looking out for others

Here is an excellent and short TED talk by Simon Anholt, which explores the concept of 'good countries':

In this context 'good' refers to countries that look outward upon the surrounding world, seeking ways to help and support other peoples and countries. It does not mean countries that are good at looking inwards upon their internal landscapes, seeking ways to support and develop their own economies and standards of living.

Being good and supporting others enables a country to gain social capital that helps it form, develop and sustain mutually beneficial relationships with other countries. After all, with which would you rather do business? A country with a reputation for doing good, or a country with a reputation for self-interest?

But looking outward with the intention of doing good for others is not enough. A country that is serious about doing good for others needs to challenge its deeply held assumptions about how to do and achieve things effectively. This is because looking outwards and doing good for others inevitably involves collaboration, and collaboration reverses assumptions about how to be effective and successful.

This reversal is summed up by four principles that underpin the dynamics of the collaborative world:
  1. The more we keep the more we waste
  2. The more others take the more we gain and the less the cost the more the value  (These two ideas are so closely related that they effectively act as one principle.)
  3. The more we control the less we control
  4. The more we collaborate the more we come into conflict
I explain these principles and give examples of them in action here:

Saturday 18 October 2014

The sharing imperative

Here is a link to an excellent short article by Bala Chakravarthy (Professor of Strategy and International Management, IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland), about the importance of sharing knowledge, expertise, resources, etc., across organisational boundaries:

Sharing effectively across organisational boundaries is becoming increasingly difficult because of the retrenching and centralising initiatives many national and international businesses are implementing in response to the recent (and ongoing) economic crisis.

The four practical actions described by Professor Chakravarthy will help your organisation achieve an effective balance between structural efficiency and overall organisational development, growth and effectiveness.

The article takes about ten minutes to read (well worth the investment of time) and is an abridged version of a larger article, the references to which are given at the bottom of the last page.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

To integrate, or not to integrate: that is the question:

Here is a research briefing from the Social Care Institute for Excellence that examines the factors which promote and hinder joint and integrated working between health and social care services:

It briefly describes four different approaches to joint working between health and social care services (see page four). These are:
  • Discrete and targeted. (Services working jointly but maintaining their separate systems and approaches to meet the needs of a specific group of people.)  
  • Discrete and inclusive. (Services working jointly but maintaining their separate systems and approaches to meet the needs of the greater population.)
  • Integrated and targeted. (Services working closely together and merging their systems and approaches to meet the needs of a specific group of people.)
  • Integrated and inclusive. (Services working closely together and merging their systems and approaches to meet the needs of the greater population.) 

Consideration of the above approaches can help inform the decisions you make when setting up and developing a collaborative initiative, whatever its purpose. 

Which of the above approaches, or mix of the above approaches, would help your collaboration achieve its objectives most effectively? Would the time and effort required to integrate services be worth the benefits achieved? Would the more immediate advantages of connecting but not changing existing services be more valuable to your collaboration than the longer-term benefits of integration? Do the current context and challenges of your collaboration require it to change its joint working approach from discrete to integrated, or from integrated to discrete? Does your collaboration require a narrow focus on specific issues and people, or does it need to broaden its remit and seek to appeal to and engage with other related issues and new and different people? 

Many problems and difficulties associated with collaborative working are caused by incorrect assumptions about the level of joint working required and the scope of activities that need to be undertaken. Help yourself to form correct assumptions about how you need to work with others and what you need to do together; pause to reflect upon the above four approaches and how they may or may not help your collaboration achieve its purpose.