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To collaborate or not to collaborate


I’ve written a bit recently about some of the processes involved in collaborating with 3rd party organisations. I spoke about the need for compatibility in terms of culture, systems and processes, but also complementarity in terms of what that organisation does.  Generally speaking, the higher both the compatibility and complementarity of two organisations, the better they are likely to be as collaborators.

That can be a rather simplistic approach however, so today I’d like to look at some of the considerations you should use when determining whether a potential collaborator is a good fit for you or not.  We’ll look at four areas where you should be looking for as good a fit as possible.  Suffice to say, you don’t need a perfect fit in all areas, but should aim for a strong fit if possible.

  1. Culture – I’m big on culture, so have to start with this.  This is less about what you and they do, but how you go about doing it.  If you don’t have a strong cultural fit then it will be really hard to collaborate, as the respective cultures underpin everything you do.  This is a deal breaker, so we’ll ask this one first.
  2. Strategy – When assessing the strategy of a partner/s, you’re looking for ones that are complementary to your own.  The whole point of collaboration is after all to better the prospects of each party achieving their goals, whilst at the same time ensuring that neither party will end up competing with the other.
  3. Organisation – This is where the compatibility I mentioned earlier comes into it.  You want to ensure that your management styles are compatible, that your systems and processes work well together and so on.  Remember, the point of collaboration is that you and they can coordinate decisions and actions successfully.
  4. Resources – I spoke in my last blog about the relative status of you and your collaboration partners.  Resources play a fundamental role in that, as successful collaboration obviously requires each party having the means to contribute to the relationship.  Whether the resources in question are financial, talent based, technological or otherwise, there needs to be a degree of equality here for the collaboration to work.

These four areas should give you an understanding as to whether your collaboration is likely to work or not.  You don’t need a perfect fit in each of them, but the higher your compatibility the better the relationship will be.

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