I build collaboration models as your:
- fixed term project advisor
- interim executive
- part time/fractal leader
- long term coach or advisor
- non-executive board director
We start by defining – often refining – your objective.
Your objective is the reason you are collaborating, so it must be clear, precise and accurate.
It may change over the course of the collaboration since you will learn more. Change is simplest to make when it is between two well defined knowns.
For example, your objective might be:
- exploration - conducting research, creating new products, assessing new activities etc.
- expansion - finding new customers, accessing new territories, expanding within new domains etc.
- transformation - deploying new technology, introducing new working practices, managing new owners etc.
Your reason to collaborate can be tactical and local to you, or fundamental and strategic for your organisation.
But it must be valuable enough that you can mobilise the stakeholders and resources you need to be successful.
Principles & Boundaries
Having set your objective you provide me your key documents and introduce your key people to help me understand how you can execute.
From this I write down your principles,
which confirm what you will always do within the context of this collaboration,
and your boundaries,
which define what you will never do.
It is essential to explicitly and repeatedly state your principles and boundaries.
Principles define expectations and boundaries define scope.
Barriers and Stakeholders
Collaborations remove barriers and open opportunities using joint working with relevant stakeholders.
Articulating the barriers that face your objective and identifying the stakeholders who control them makes it possible to build a coherent engagement strategy to incentivise those parties to remove them.
Not all barriers may be visible without further action, but structural issues and current problems need to be captured.
Key stakeholders may be few or many in number, they may be suppliers, customers or bystanders, and you may or may not need to build new relationships with them.
Review and Internal Sign-off
Collaboration involves new combinations of resources, new questions to answer and new decisions to make.
It is therefore vital that your decision makers understand and approve the collaboration and are prepared to resource it.
To ensure this you review, adjust, discuss and approve my analysis accordingly.
My initial review happens over an appropriate agreed timetable, maybe a week or up to 6 months, depending on the complexity and scope of your organisation and your objective.
Further reviews continue throughout the life of project to confirm progress, adjust direction and report outcomes.
Consistent stakeholder engagement makes collaboration work and this starts internally within your organisation.
We form the narrative through-line connecting every internal stakeholder to the mission set by your objective.
Your makers, sellers, administrators and leaders adopt this narrative to align their people, data and processes to effective collaboration.
Execution and your Collaboration Map
Planning, review and sign-off brings together a clear description of your objective, your principles and boundaries in achieving it, the barriers you face and the stakeholders who control them.
I draw this up as a Collaboration Map for you to use in communication and planning at each stage of the collaboration, either directly or as an aide memoir.
From here each barrier is understood in relation to the stakeholder(s) who control or influence it and you can begin execution.
This means creating or adjust the relationships you need to remove those barriers, implementing the structures, incentives and controls that move you from present state to desired state.
Your principles provide each stakeholder with a consistent expectation about your motives and intentions and build trust in you objective.
Your boundaries provide certainty for the limits of the collaboration and build commitment to this effort.
I am available to advise and lead on stakeholder relationships as necessary, with your given resource.