The drive to competition sometimes causes companies to shut down their ‘borders’ in an attempt to gain an advantage over competitors. Business doesn’t seem to work very well that way in an era where open collaboration happens all around us – Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter or Linux anyone?
I think that the real challenge of modern business is implementation and not strategy. It’s one of the things that I’m sure led someone (probably Peter Drucker, although that’s not without controversy) to say “Culture eats strategy for breakfast“. In my experience, it’s not that hard to come up with a good strategy, it’s hard to get the whole value chain doing their piece as best they can and better than other organisations. And just as importantly, when it comes to CSR, it is usually very difficult to solve fuzzy issues without collaboration. For example, a group of large companies in a Middle East country recently banded together to start recycling programmes in the region. By themselves none of the companies could reach the critical mass needed to make it financially worthwhile, but acting as a buying group, they were able to come up with a model that reduced all of their respective costs, and won some admiration from their employees.
Just finished reading an interesting publication from BITC which addresses Collaboration as a business-critical issue – Shared goals, shared solutions. Collaboration is certainly not easy to do and the guide helps someone who is thinking about collaborating ask some of the more important questions about how to make it happen. It is also peppered with micro-case studies of collaboration. And it gives a few important pointers on the competition law implications of collaborating with competitors (at least in the UK).
It’s by no means the last word on business collaboration, but an important arrow in the quiver of anyone thinking about collaboration.