August 14, 2020

Most underrated business skill: Collaboration

Marko Kovacevic

There is no doubt that we value and promote collaboration within our organizations while searching for the right talent. Still, when it comes to practicing collaboration as a business-to-business relationship, it is often not sought after. We are keen to see our business units collaborate better with each other, but we don't want our company to do the same with other organizations.

We believe this is a must in today's business reality — to test, try, and adopt as part of the growth DNA. If we are brave to embrace it as our approach, our organizations, people, and society will benefit.

Collaboration enables sustainable growth.

Collaborating with other organizations and businesses enables healthier and more meaningful growth. With collaboration in mind, we focus on activating values already created and amplify them through synergy.

The old formula is very simple and known by all of us. We are competing in the uncollaborative approach, striving to grow our value by diminishing someone else's.

The new formula is even more straightforward. The collaborative approach enables us to focus and thrive in what we are great at and do what motivates us the most. The collaborative approach exponentially multiplies the number of paths we can take because our partners complement us in know-how, outreach, creativity, and opportunities. Collaboration with different organizations motivates us to be more agile and adaptive. It also helps us anticipate the upcoming changes faster since we are not only focused on what is happening in our immediate business surroundings.

This is why we believe that growing together in close collaboration is a step forward for the entire society, and we call it "Evolutionary growth". Evolutionary growth brings three essential benefits:

  1. Creating more opportunities - by testing, and scaling-up faster while diversifying company culture from competing to collaborating. 
  2. Grow motivation and entrepreneurship - Teams will be more motivated and satisfied because they will be doing what they are great at, and have a collaborating partner with their greatness for the areas of uncertainty. 
  3. Qualify for a bigger game - We would have fewer situations where big players are coming to new markets and diminishing small ones. Collaborators are multiplying knowledge, added value resources, capacity, and opportunities from day one with no reservation (no competition between each other).

Collaboration champions

When done right, collaboration is a forceful driver of growth and development. Think of Red Bull & Go Pro, Deezer and Telenor, Aston Martin and James Bond 007. These examples focus on marketing and sales, but there are many other ways, both big and small companies can collaborate.

Here are some examples, done by the companies we are fortunate to be working with and, who also believe that collaboration will help them unlock the next level of growth:

  • A large global corporation and a leading local company are joining forces on the innovative market opportunity to change global industry standards. Together, they have a unique understanding of the overall market, motivation to innovate from local to global, and are increasing their funding capacity. This is not dividing the current value; this is creating new value for all.
  • A small software company, specialized in a niche and hard to master technology is collaborating with several larger enterprise software companies. The niche company stays independent with its unique culture and focus. Its expertise and collaboration model enables them to partner up and create a joint value platform, where big guys are extending their offer and value-add to their enterprise clients with the solution of the small company.
  • Cafes and restaurants from a posh neighborhood in one European capital have decided to join forces and create a joint loyalty program and mutual promotions. This collaboration will help them create unique long term value for their loyal customers, grow their sales, and grow their relevance compared to other popular areas.

Can COVID-19 drive collaboration?

In times of a global pandemic, it seems that collaboration between organizations might become more necessary. The inability to travel, and the need for fast changes, made a significant difference in pushing businesses to find new models to adopt. Many businesses turned to collaborative partnerships to open up new markets, create new value propositions, and keep their business adapting to unique circumstances.

We've seen it already happening with companies striving to improve their e-commerce, and we are witnessing it more and more in other areas as well.

It’s not gonna be only about the technology; but finding ways how to put creativity in collaboration rather than competition. We need small and medium-sized businesses to thrive, they are the strongest force of innovation and sustainability.

Let's join forces to ensure that the collaboration will be a standard component in the new business circumstances to grow value for all stakeholders.