Collaborative Working

I wonder if you are aware of the increased productivity you can make if you set your business to work more collaboratively using some simple yet incredibly powerful strategies?

When you are a relatively small organisation located in one place with limited external business partners and suppliers, collaborative working is much easier to do- it just happens.

Fig 1: Working collaboratively face-to-face and virtually

Everyone gets to know Sally does the finance and Trevor is the quality control, which documentation and systems to use and the correct business processes to follow.

It gets more complex and less collaborative as the numbers of people, tasks, processes, external organisations and systems increases.   This is especially if there is no collaboration governance within your organisation. As your workplace gets more complex with activities being performed in different locations and time zones by different people and organisations your ability to get work done right first time and quickly becomes more challenging.

Collaborative Approach

Developing a collaborative approach which helps you govern how people should work within a framework can help you mitigate the issues identified above and increase your level of collaborative working.  Here are several reasons for implementing collaboration governance:

  1. Having an “over arching” way of working is important if all your processes, people and systems are to work in harmony – it’s a bit like having a conductor of an orchestra
  2. There are many processes and procedures to follow – all of which individually work (to a degree – there is always room for  mprovement).  Making sure that a single or individual decision does not have a negative impact is crucial for your collaborative working to continue and improve
  3. In projects and business generally people are completing Before Action Reviews and After Action Reviews, but seldom are these  lessons shared across the organisation
  4. Data and information management is an every minute activity now – creating, using, filing, archiving and  retrieving it cannot be left ungoverned
  5. To work more productively people are always looking for the new shiny tool that will make it all better.  No it won’t unless you have a collaborative working approach that is governed.  All that happens is that you increase your non collaborative working approach!
  6. When you work with external partners and suppliers there needs to be a consistent way of working, especially when you are working with people internally and externally
  7. Making sure that the correct governance levels are in place so that business decisions and changes are reviewed and evaluated strategically, tactically and technically

Collaboration Governance

When you are trying balance the various strategic initiatives and normal day-today business activities, along with other personal  development programmes such as empowerment or operating in matrix organisation with cross functional groups delivering projects, whilst trying to achieve your personal objectives, can be very challenging for you, if not confusing.

Dealing with strong personalities and external actions which are outside of your control only adds further “barrier and constraints” to your collaborative working.  A major part of collaboration governance is dealing with the relationships first and foremost, followed by the processes and technology.  Not that the last two are not important, they are but collaboration is about people working together to deliver a better outcome than if you were to do it individually.

Collaborative working relationships

There are various types of relationships that you will need to engage with and can .  Identifying your relationships and the value that they represent to your business is one of the first steps for you to undertake.  Once you have done that assessing your collaboration competencies and the behaviours that are required against your current capability and maturity as an organisation and identifying individuals who will be involved in these relationships is an important step to creating better collaborative relationships.

One way to help you do this is to use BS 11000 Part 1 – collaborative business relationships, a framework specification.  Although BS 11000 is a specification I have put this into a more visual format for you to use so you can easily discover your collaborative behaviours and maturity both at an organisational and individual level.

Maybe you haven’t thought of the different ways that BS 11000 can help your business develop improved collaborative working within your business yet.

Let me share with you a collaborative approach that you can start to use immediately and help improve your collaborative working.

Keep on collaborating,


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