Collaboration happens when there is the right kind of work environment in place. The question leaders often ask me in executive coaching sessions is the following: “What is the right kind of environment to be in place to support more effective collaboration?”
A classic Lencioni answer would be when managers really know their people, these same people employed know who their work impacts and how, and finally those employed know how to assess their own progress or success. But a more in-depth answer is needed to fully understand the question.
For the above to take place, performance management needs to assist managers and employees in becoming better. This system should provide clarity about what is expected along with goals, roles, responsibilities and core values. An effective manager should take the above information and provide routine feedback about whether or not the employee is adequately meeting those expectations.
But let’s zoom out and look at the bigger picture related to collaboration and partnerships. Ron Adner in his book, The Wide Lens: A New Strategy For Innovation (Portfolio/Penguin, 2012) notes that “Success in a connected world requires that you manage your dependence.” And for these strategies to succeed, it is no longer enough to manage your innovation. Now you must manage your innovation ecosystem which means collaborating or partnering with more people outside the organization than just inside the company people.
The risks of this level of collaboration are many. The first, the above author points out, is Execution Risk, i.e. the challenges you face in bringing about your innovation to the required specifications within the required time. The second is Co-innovation Risk, i.e. the extent to which the successful commercialization of your innovation depends on the successful commercialization of other innovations. The third is Adoption Chain Risk, i.e. the extent to which partners will need to adopt your innovation before end consumers have a chance to assess the full value proposition. The reason I bring this all up is to remind us that not all partnerships are internal and there is a high potential for Co-innovation Risks and Adoption Chain Risks that could take place during the next six to nine months. Therefore, be very mindful of where, and when you are seeking collaboration because there are operational and strategic risks in play around the whole affair.