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 28 December 2015

Business and the United Nations: turning demons into angels

The above is a recent report which explores how the UN's relationship with business needs to change.

What stands out for me is the power of changing our perspective.

If the UN begins to see the business sector and its people, ideas and resources as part of the solution to the world's economic, environmental and social problems rather than part of their cause, the UN's relationship with the business sector will quickly change in some very powerful ways. Here are four of them:
  • Business will be partnered with rather than kept at arm's length    
  • Business will fully participate in initiatives rather than simply donate to initiatives
  • Business will be listened to and valued rather than preached at and discounted
  • Business will be encouraged to make good things happen rather than regulated to ensure bad things do not happen

There are, of course, difficulties associated with seeing things in the above way. The past, recent and ongoing bad behaviour of many well-known companies, banks and other business institutions raises serious questions about how much anyone (not only the UN) can see them as organisations that can be trusted and worked with. For some, trusting and working with these organisations probably feels like inviting a particularly vicious species of commercial vampire into the family business; better to keep them at least at arm's length, even better staked out and regulated, rather than embraced, infused with new partners' knowledge and resources and gifted new commercial opportunities to feast upon.

But how much does our common perception of the business sector contribute to its behaviour? If we see business as part of the problem does it eventually become part of the problem? Does keeping business at arm's length encourage business to be secretive and cunning and conniving in its attempts to gain access to new markets and new money making opportunities? Does encouraging donations rather than participation provide business with a ready made cloak of apparent good intentions that is an all too tempting camouflage for less than good intentions? Does being preached at and discounted create a steadily growing resentment fuelling a need to get noticed, get even and 'get one over'? Does regulating to stop business doing bad things encourage business to find new and innovative ways to do bad things?

Have we created, at least to some extent, our own business demons? Would changing our perspective begin the process of transforming them into angels?

Monday 30 November 2015

Bite-size pieces: meet on their patch

'Meeting partners on their own patch and at times that fit in with their day to day activities can of itself go a long way towards building trust, gaining better social and cultural understanding, and appreciating differing expectations and communication needs. It will also highlight the practical challenges presented by the locality and environment within which the partnership is working.' 

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
For more details click here.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Collaboration in the oil and gas industries: success factors and foundation factors


The above paper is an old one but it still has lots of value for those interested in collaboration.  

It suggest to me that part of the challenge for the oil and gas industries is about recognising that its justified organisational pride and attitude of self-reliance could hinder its approach to collaboration: I find it interesting that things like training, using an external facilitator and having previous experience of collaboration are not rated highly by the industries as success factors for collaboration.

Any organisation or sector could perhaps benefit from asking itself if the pride it feels in its track record and its attitude of self-reliance are limiting the effectiveness of its decisions about collaborative working.            

Also, the suggestion that the absence of some factors (absence of leadership; absence of fair allocation of risks, rewards and profits; presence of non-addressed cultural differences; and absence of willingness to change) can cause dissatisfaction and failure but that their presence will not necessarily lead to satisfaction and success is insightful and important. It is the first time I have sensed the ghost of Herzberg haunting the modern realms of collaboration.

This insight suggests that collaborations could gain much by drawing partners' attention not just towards success factors for collaboration but also towards what could be called 'foundation factors' for collaboration: those factors that if present will support the success factors, but if absent will undermine them.

Bite-size pieces: emergent

'One of the key responsibilities of the hub of a partnership is to spot, encourage and develop emergent leadership. It is a common trait of partnerships that as their work develops so too do the partners themselves. Those that perhaps started on the fringes of a partnership can begin to exhibit a particular affinity, passion, or expertise for a specific area of the partnership’s work. Once identified, such individuals or organisations need to be encouraged further into the partnership to take up leadership roles consistent with their skills, abilities, motivations and passions.'

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
For more details click here.

Friday 27 November 2015

Bite-size pieces: newness

'Focusing upon newness minimises the defensive mind set created by focusing upon competitors well established interests, activities and markets. It encourages competitors to band together and launch a combined offensive targeted at identifying and exploiting new and potentially lucrative opportunities, safe in the knowledge that their existing interests are unlikely to be threatened by those with which they are collaborating (at least for the duration of the current alliance).'

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
For more details click here.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Bite-size pieces

'Eradicating poverty in the world is a wonderful but massive goal that companies feel is too vague and out of reach. Key to engagement is breaking down objectives into concrete steps, into bite-size pieces.'

Blanca Hernandez Rodriguez - Chairperson EBRO FOUNDATION   

'Adding the additional step of interim outcomes makes the audit trail between what a partnership can deliver and its high level aspirational outcomes clearer to follow. This makes the attribution of cause and effect less arguable.'

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
For more details click here.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Bite-size pieces: flock thinking

Flock thinking occurs when:

‘Every individual within a group is influential and can have an effect upon decisions reached, but (for various and variable reasons) certain individuals are more influential than others and the rest of those present accept this.’

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
For more details click here.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Bite-size pieces: the golden chain

'A partnership’s ‘Golden Chain’ consists of those activities that when linked or combined can be seen to be both supporting and leading clearly in the direction of a partnership’s high level aspirational outcomes. A clearly observable, uncluttered golden chain of activities indicates that a partnership’s activities are well chosen and aligned with its overall purpose.'

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
For more details click here.

Monday 23 November 2015

Bite-size pieces: avoid slipping away...

'One way to avoid benefits slipping away through organisational cracks is for a partnership to focus on the legacy of learning (not just outputs and benefits) it will leave behind. The key lessons that contributed to a partnership’s success need to be recorded and accompany the more tangible outputs and benefits presented to those that follow.'

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:                                                       
(available now)
For more details click here.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Fourth Edition of 'Sleeping with the Enemy' now out!

The Fourth Edition includes a new extended chapter 'Why should The Devil Have All The Best Collaborations?', which explores what we can learn from the way criminals collaborate.

Here is an overview of the Fourth Edition's  Content:

 'An excellent book that outlines the value and benefit of collaborative working...' 
This book is about collaborative and partnership working best practice. It describes how to:
  • achieve the potential of partnerships and collaborations; 
  • engage effectively with hard-to-reach stakeholders; 
  • lead partnerships and collaborations effectively;
  • work well with competitors; 
  • identify differing organisational cultures and manage the interactions between them; 
  • manage partnership discussions effectively; 
  • encourage partnerships and collaborations to develop and move forward; 
  • deal effectively with the conflicting demands that lie at the heart of collaborative efforts; 
  • evaluate partnership processes and outcomes; 
  • appreciate and use the four principles that underpin effective collaborative working. 
The 4th edition includes a chapter entitled 'Why Should The Devil Have All The Best Collaborations?', which explores what we can learn from the way criminals collaborate. 
'Sleeping with the Enemy' is full of tools, techniques and approaches that you can apply to your day-to-day collaborative activities, and many of the book's ideas are explained through the use of practical examples and short case studies. 
If you need to set up, maintain and develop a partnership or any other collaborative effort, this book is an indispensable and insightful companion.

Bite-size pieces: carousel!

'Looking far and wide for potential partners can also avoid one of the great enemies of creative partnership working: the Carousel Syndrome. This describes the situation where the same old faces turn up to every new partnership initiative dealing with a particular issue or locality. This can lead to the same old approaches and ideas being recycled into new contexts. It is true that what has worked before might well work again, but without the energising and transforming contributions of new perspectives, second hand solutions are unlikely to provide complete answers to the new challenges faced by new partnerships.'

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
          4th Edition                                      

For more details click here

The murderers next door

Here is another telling example, this time from a remote region of Romania (Maramures), which illustrates how disempowering local people can have disastrous effects.

When local people had control of the system for dealing with land disputes everything worked fairly well. But things worked less well when central government took control: there were, quite literally, deadly consequences.

This shows,once again, that giving control and collaborating rather than taking control and enforcing is often the most effective option, especially where limited but easily taken and hard to police resources are concerned.

The Guardian: The Murderers Next Door

Saturday 21 November 2015

Bite-size pieces: lead and follow; yes and also

'To live, work and lead in this modern world we need to address challenging and complex paradoxes. We need results now and we need to build for the future. We need to lead and to follow. We need to be secretive and open and honest. Partnership working offers a way of addressing these complex paradoxes. This is because it demands a new, richer way of thinking that is based upon ‘yes and also’ rather than ‘yes or no’. Partnership working demands that we address both sides of a paradox by sharing and exploiting our diverse perceptions and resources.'

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
          4th Edition                                      

For more details click here



Friday 20 November 2015

Music collaborating for health

Music and collaborative working come together once again: 

Arts in Hospitals

This project promises to open up a rich seam of information about how creative collaborations between very diverse cultures and sectors form, develop and begin achieving things.

Hats off to the open-minded innovators driving it forward!

Bite-size pieces: withering on the vine...

'...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.'

From Sleeping with the Enemy - Achieving Collaborative Success:
          4th Edition                                      
For more details click here.




Thursday 19 November 2015

Bite-size pieces: create an attractive identity and reputation

'Where criminals seeking to attract potential partners in crime create identities and reputations that discourage the law abiding but attract a wide selection of the criminally useful, those seeking to collaborate within the legal overworld can create identities and reputations that discourage the non – collaborative but attract a wide selection of the collaborative.

For example, a high profile construction project focused upon building a new rail link to London's Heathrow Airport invested great time and effort into making a collaborative, partnership approach part of their culture and identity. This collaborative culture then ingrained itself into the day – to – day activities of the project, gradually providing it with a reputation that attracted a wide range of suitably skilled and collaboratively inclined businesses and organisations with the potential to work effectively in partnership within the project.'

          4th Edition                                      
For more details click here.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Bite-size pieces: the where and the when

'Criminals go to where their potential partners in crime are likely to be and they go to these places at times when they are likely to meet them, however inconvenient, anti – social or even dangerous doing so may be. 

Legitimate collaborations can certainly learn from this. They often suffer from the ‘Carousel Syndrome’ where the same old faces, the same old partners, turn up again and again and again, whenever a new collaborative initiative is formed. This does not enhance a collaboration's ability to be innovative or to benefit from new perspectives and insights. It also limits the pool of potentially valuable knowledge, experience and expertise a collaboration can call upon.

Being prepared to go to where more 'hard – to – reach' potential partners are, at times and in ways that are convenient to them, however anti – social or even dangerous these may seem, can make all the difference to a partnership's ability to engage effectively with its target audience and gain the knowledge, expertise and resources it needs to achieve its aims.'
          4th Edition                                      
For more details click here.



Bite-size pieces: magnetise your brokers

'Criminals know that they have to 'magnetise' the brokers or linking people within their collaborative networks and the breeding pools for developing potential partners contained within them. They know it is not enough to introduce and resource brokers, and that it is not even enough to ensure that brokers have good collaborative skills. Criminals know that for brokers to be effective in their roles they need to act as magnets within the network, attracting people to them not just because they have good contacts but also because they possess invaluable knowledge, skills, expertise and experience that aspiring criminals need.

 Those seeking to create legal overworld collaborations need to realise a very similar thing: that to attract potential partners the brokers they introduce to their collaborative networks need to be magnetised with the power of valued and sought after (mostly legal overworld) knowledge, skills, expertise and experience.'
          4th Edition                                      
For more details click here.