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What is Collaboration?

By April 26, 2013All members

What is Collaboration?

collaborating, working together, circle of handsI’m often asked, what is collaboration? According to the dictionary, collaboration is where two or more people or organizations work together to realise shared goals. Collaboration enables you to share skills, experience, tools, knowledge, ‘clout’, resources etc. Done well, it can save you time and money, and get you more business faster. There are lots of different ways to collaborate and over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at the different ways you can collaborate and benefit your business.

Most small businesses are very good at what they do, but often don’t have all the skills necessary to do all the things they’d like to do. Perhaps you want to utilise technology you are not currently familiar with.  Or you’d like to access a new business sector, or just work with someone who has a different perspective or greater knowledge. You could buy in these skills but it can often be more beneficial to share your own knowledge or activities with someone to your mutual benefit.

Collaboration relies on trust and openness, and works best when there is clear agreed goal or objective.

These days, of course there are many tools to ease the process of collaboration. Social Media has made it even easier to work and can be used to collaborate with other people both locally and worldwide. If you don’t want to risk exposing your own idea, why not pose a question about the problem you are trying to solve or the opportunity you are trying to exploit to a very wide audience via Social Media and get some diverse and interesting ideas. In the technical world, this is called ‘crowd sourcing’.

Why Collaborate?

In the wider world, organisations are finding that they can have greater impact from collaborations than with the isolated intervention of individual organizations. In other words, collaboration may be the key to creating a better environment to do business in.

We live in an increasingly interconnected world, where business and other organisations are relying ever more closely on other people to deliver key parts of their services. This places great pressure on organisations to understand how (and when) to collaborate.

Collaboration enables organisations to deliver more, and more effectively.

Many companies now collaborate with their customers about the definition and supply of products and services.  Similarly, many companies collaborate with their suppliers about the definition and supply of products and services.  There are also collaborations between companies that would previously have regarded themselves as competitors, where they work together to target a particular market opportunity.

Another example would be large construction projects, which require a significant degree of collaboration.  Nuclear power stations are a good example.

At a more detailed level, there is plenty of evidence that suggests that people from different functions coming together to share their knowledge to solve problems is both a good route to good solutions and to innovations as well.

With thanks to Denis Bourne of for collaborating on this post.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing tips, hints etc. on how to make your collaboration work. If you’d like to receive these ‘hot off the press’, please sign up for our newsletter here This the first in a series of blogs designed to answer the question – what is collaboration?

One Comment

  • Phil Whitting says:

    Very interesting post Jacqui, I can vouch for the power of collaboration based on an interesting recent experience.

    I took a phone call from a company who were looking for a solution to their client’s problem; they needed to team up with someone because part of the problem was outside their normal sphere of competence.

    You will understand what I mean by that if you take into account the fact that my company markets systems that provide indoor GPS coverage, and the caller was an expert in systems that monitor the integrity of large-bore water mains.

    I think you would agree that it would be difficult to imagine two more different business activities.

    The caller was from a company called Syrinix, and he was looking for a partner to fill in the product and skills gap that was keeping him from providing the full solution his client desperately needed.

    The full story can be seen in a case study on my site, but in essence Syrinix had been tasked with solving a problem caused by the giant drilling machines operating under the streets of London during the construction of the new Crossrail tunnels.

    The drills were coming perilously close to some very large water pipes which had to be fitted with monitors that would raise an alarm should any situation arise that could cause a potentially catastrophic leak. All this was well within Syrinix’s expertise and experience, even if it was a new environment for them to be installing their equipment.

    However, each monitor required a GPS signal to provide the management system with an accurate location identifier and timing signal – the problem was that some of the monitors were up to 150M from the nearest street opening. This is where Faltech’s design skills came into play; this was not going to be solved with an off-the-shelf kit.

    Once the problem had been defied, I set about designing a solution to deliver the GPS signal from a receiving antenna in a street cabinet, all the way down a tunnel to the monitoring equipment. Naturally the goalposts shifted a few times and that caused us to regroup occasionally, but as we progressed we both gained a better understanding of the complexities each other was faced with.

    The bill of materials was finally agreed upon (and the price of course), the order was placed, the kit was delivered and tested in-house prior to installation – all completed within about three weeks.

    The installation went ahead with nothing more than a couple of small snags that we ironed out between us, and ultimately everyone got what they wanted – a mutually-beneficial situation all round.

    So yes, I am sold on the benefits of collaboration!

    See the press release here

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