• Robin Hawksworth

Collaboration works... So why do we fight it?

Everyone loves to work on their companies' collaborative projects. There is a certain motivating dynamic to sharing ideas and thrashing out details within a team.

...... it feels rewarding!

Then there are those who collaborate with suppliers and paid experts as they look to grow their business footprint through re-modelling, negotiating or marketing.

.....this feels practical!

Then there are the companies who work freely with those in the same street, the same city or same industry to openly promote each other and work together.

.....this feels scary....... this rarely happens.

What's in it for me?

A couple of years ago I suggested to a group of hotel Food & Beverage managers they should form relationships with local bars, restaurants and clubs to which they could direct their hotel's guests. My argument was that outside of breakfast they seemed not to be focusing on attracting diners so why not ensure their guests have a great experience during their stay. They where not surprisingly un-receptive.... The next morning I asked my waitress for recomendations, she directed me to the bellmen. It turns out that they recommend solely based on financial kick-backs from the restaurants... There it was it all it's narrow minded glory, the 'What's in it for me?' mentality.

I suggested the same thing to a group of businesses on a quiet city street in a bustling tourist destination. Work together, promote your street, deliver a common presence on-line, collaborate on festivals/promotions and suggest each other. From my outside viewpoint their competition was not each other, it was the streets closer to the centre of town so drawing the public away from this area was key to their collective success.... 'Why should I help the others, What's in it for me?... There it was again.

Why do we fight collaborating?

When others look to collaborate with us our primal brains starts to warn us that they are going to take something from us. We second guess their intentions, so rarely open our arms, pour the coffee and invite anyone in for an open conversation.

What are we scared off? Why do we instantly look to say 'No' or look for ways to garner the game so we gain a little more then they do. Before the first word is uttered legal teams are working on restricting any damage caused, get-out clauses, loss of business, theft of IP, etc... in other words 'We Need To Win' or 'What's in it for me?'

Now before you start shouting.... "We are collaborating with a coding company right now to build our app"... don't. If you are paying someone to work for you then you are effectively hiring them even if their payday is down the road.

Collaborating should be focused on collective gain and an equal stake in the future of all businesses.

So what is in it for you?

In a word everything...... Your future is a collaborative one. Your life is a collaborative effort. Your smart phone is pumped full of apps that push collaboration and openly sharing.

Having recently visited a business where seven companies work harmoniously under one roof, I quickly noticed that sharing office spaces, meetings rooms, legal help and cross-pollinated on clients benefits everyone. Especially the shared clients.

Even as I wrote this, I am sipping coffee in a building full of start-ups who share space, services, ideas and business advisors.

Why it can be scary to trust and be open in business, we are doing so more and more in other aspects of our lives which can be rewarding. In a borderless digital world we can connect and work with others around the globe as easily as those at the desk next to you. So why not open up a conversation today? Take a look at those around you who could benefit from your skills or experiences and those from whom you could learn. I guarantee that they are all fundamentally different from you, have different market dynamics and above all, a different mentality to business.

Rest assured they are not you and you are not them, in 90% of cases they are not direct competition.

If you have confidence in your companies abilities then openly collaborating is not scary.... it can may become a necessary experience.

So who wants to collaborate......? Anyone, Anyone, Anyone.....

Thank you for reading this and my other posts. I would love to read your thoughts and experiences on collaborating with other businesses.

Please leave a comment below, share with your colleagues.

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