Collaboration is not an option but a necessity to support performance, innovation and efficiency. Whatever your organisational configuration (Mintzberg), whether it is bureaucratic, entrepreneurial, missionary, adhocratic or professional, you will have to improve collaborations if your goal is to turn your organisation into a community. In fact, without collaboration, no ecosystem can survive long enough to accomplish much.
Key #2: Improve your collaborations
The main challenge found out through a survey I conducted in 2016 at the European Commission is to improve collaboration in the inter-organisational space. This is where it is perceived as the least effective. Let’s call this type of collaboration “cross-collaboration”. It happens when people collaborate in the Around (not within their teams) and in the Outside with external people. In very complex organisations, the Around can be of a great importance.
Why cross-collaboration fails
“Whether we like it or not, we are led to collaborate beyond our working teams with another service, with our publics, with The “Others”. But we are not good at this…”
The results of my survey reflect a major problem in our organisations today. Cross-collaboration can be weak. There are many reasons for this, for instance:
- This form of collaboration happens in a space where formal authority can be blurred.
- People maintain a limited network of relationships outside their usual teams.
- Employees feel that they need to rely heavily on procedures.
- There is a perceived lack of trust when collaborating outside formal teams.
- In this inter-organizational space, members need more than ever to show autonomy, and responsibility – which is not the traditional practice of their organisation.
The power of cross-collaboration
Collaboration means that the traditional top-down model “command-and-control” must give room to a “collaborate-and-connect” horizontal approach. The benefits of cross-collaboration are numerous: breaking silos, ensuring strategic alignment or increasing synergies and efficiencies.
Unleashing the full potential of cross-collaboration
To be successful, a cross-collaboration process needs more players who are involved, creative and empowered. More active players and less followers, using the leaderful approach described in my previous post.
To achieve this objective, managers need to create more opportunities for cross-collaboration in an “enabling” and “empowering” environment. By promoting a permanent process of relationships construction between people (Falzon), they will make sure to develop collaboration opportunities on top of traditional team collaboration.
“In the 21st century, we must build communities in which everyone shares the experience of being a leader, not sequentially but simultaneously and collectively.” (Realin)
In order to help you remove one by one the barriers to cross-collaboration, together with Yves Monsel, we designed a seminar that allows for enhanced and successful collaboration “with others” addressed to all employees. I invite you to contact me here or on LinkedIn should you want more details.