try to teach adults to play together nicely,” Madelyn Yucht, president of
performance excellence for Linkage, joked during "The Art and Science of
Collaboration” workshop for senior executives.
Collaboration, the number-one competency in the 21st century economy, is not
easy, but can be learned and mastered. "It takes discipline and practice,”
During the workshop, a three-minute exercise had attendees choosing partners
and sharing information about recent collaborations, including what went well
and what didn't go well in their experiences. Instantly, the room's volume
increased, with eager conversation developing into impromptu collaboration.
experiences raised included trust, alignment, clear expectations and being
heard. Among the negative experiences mentioned were resistance to change, lack
of clarity among roles, decision rights and conflict management. All of these,
good and bad, are necessary considerations when collaborating, Yucht said.
in any collaboration, conflict does show up," Yucht said. Additionally,
all relationships are not created equal. There are transactional relationships,
collaborative relationships and strategic relationships. While it has become popular
to use the term "partner,” that term does not clarify a relationship, she said.
Tension arises when one party wants a certain relationship and the
correspondent wants another.
transactional relationship views organizations as easily replaceable, without a
need for extensive communication. In a collaborative relationship, there are
common goals and objectives and trust is fostered. Strategic relationships need
senior leaders to be committed and involved, with organizations that view each
other as integral to one another's future.
strategic relationship model embraces five points to consider: strategic
synergy, implementation capability, technical robustness, relationship equity
and financial return or value exchange. Speaking
about strategic synergy, Yucht said parties must ask themselves if they are both
trying to get to the same place. "All too often, we don't have these
discussions,” she said. "We make a lot of assumptions. This is the first place
where collaborations fall apart.”Implementation
capability also is crucial. "You can have a great idea and not be able to
execute it,” Yucht said. "Before you say something is a ‘go,’ take a look at
what's needed to organizationally manage a project.”
robustness requires the equipment, services and methods to make a collaboration
terms of relationship equity, collaborative engagements can be viewed in terms
of deposits and withdrawals. "We make deposits, but you can count on
withdrawals,” Yucht said. "We have to be very conscious about the relationships
we build, making those deposits and the power to be drawn in this area.”
Without a conversation about financial return or value exchange in relationships,
"we leave a lot of value on the table,” she noted.
If one organization doesn't
perceive value where another one does, there is no value, she said. Values must
be established early on in the relationship.