Competition to Collaboration: Changing New Age Success Mantras

Mar 13, 2019
“If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.”
- Lew Platt

Could HP know what it knows without communication or collaboration? Probably not.

Time and again when it comes to change management, tangibles have won the battle over intangibles. So while on one end we see technology adoption being materialized almost overnight, on the other hand intangible culture and behavior changes have demanded acute and persistent efforts, sometimes for years at a stretch. That being said, there are many who managed to evolve into a 21st century efficient enterprise and lead the world by example.

  • ING Direct Canada neatly demolished the slightest trait of all conventional systems. The new age ING Direct Canada worker doesn’t have any job title or office. It is the closest to gig work utopia that millennials have been imagining. Indeed, the future of work that we can look up to.
  • Motley Foll expanded its C-suite and got its first Chief Collaboration Officer.
  • Intuit used and is still using all data from its collaboration platform and Lowe's Home Improvement is using collaboration technology for its day-to-day work.
  • Cisco gets its best and fastest issues solved through its crowdsourced collaboration environment.

The list is ever-growing. But the burning question is: how did they do it? We can vouch for the fact that the change couldn’t have been as easy as rookies had thought it to be. Behind the 8 ball? Maybe. What is the lesson here for us? Change is difficult, not impossible. Here are the key takeaways from avant-gardes.


Measure it: There can be no real businesses without good ROI. Use analytics to measure the change. Both hard and soft matrices work and a hybrid approach customized to your need can be the perfect choice. Combining cost benefits with employee engagement is a staple model.

A cart before the horse doesn’t go anywhere: Technology left to itself can achieve very little. The whys and hows of technology should be thoroughly thought through. Organizations need to see the value that these technologies can bring for their businesses. Adopting technology for the name and fame of it is a big mistake. Penn State University has paved the way forward. When it organized its annual conference, it had little clarity or consensus on the kind of technology they needed. But during the conference, they picked the important ones they were going to pursue.

Be receptive: Employees are the ones using technologies for day-to-day work and you have to have faith in their competence and judgment. Their feedback bring genuine inputs and concerns. Booz Allen Hamilton lost its excellent employee engagement when it handed its employee feedback to IT.

Don’t go by the Book: Nothing kills motivation like micromanaging. Go beyond basic practices and guidelines and give employees space to do things their own way. CEMEX, a building materials company, introduced dark room to encourage innovation.

Change trickles from the top: Leaders can be the most powerful instruments to bring a change. Océ, a printing and outsourcing company, realized the reluctance of its employees to question or learn new skills which became a major impediment in its growth. It introduced a top-down approach with its leaders deliberately exposing their vulnerabilities to employees. The behavior was quickly picked up at lower rungs in the organization.

Nurture the roots: A larger vision is composed of small yet worthy contributions of many in their own way. Let your employees know what’s in it for them as an individual. AMP Bank in Sydney is a great example. The collaborating team leaders sat with each and every employee and explained the benefits of new technology.

Keep it simple: Collaboration should not look like another task in the to-do list of your employees. It should be seamlessly ingrained in the processes. TELUS centralized its technologies and they can be accessed with a single central navigation bar.

Reward Teamwork: Changing physical space, removing cubicles and other physical barriers create the right environment for teamwork to flourish.

Persist: Nobody gets it perfectly right for the first time. Budgetary constraints, reluctant managers, poor employee motivation, wrong technology choices will show up and will pose impediments. Work through these obstacles and roadblocks.

Darwinism is ubiquitous: Days of stability are way behind us. Collaboration is an ongoing effort. Adapt and evolve as the need arises. Accenture used holograms to bring its top leadership together for a town hall meeting.

The customer still is the king: With collaboration, organizations can use its collective intelligence to solve customer issues.

Big picture: Benefits of collaboration in organizations are undisputed. From employee engagement to idea generation to breaking down silo working, when it comes to results collaboration has only the best to offer.

THE UPSHOT: For almost a century, corporations were working in strict hierarchies and silos with information a propriety cloud of the privileged few. New-age technologies like Blockchain, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, coupled with cut-throat competition, impacted this cloud voraciously and burst it in a matter of years, dispersing a cloudburst of information (necessary, unnecessary difficult to say) over almost anyone and everyone in its path. The deep-rooted ones swayed to save their lives and the Monday morning quarterbacks were swept away with it. Some, never to be found again.

Then came the aftermath: Those who wanted to survive adapted and learned quickly enough to swim. They collaborated, learned and adjusted their moves with the new currents. Few took a lead and channeled this change, some even decided a new course for it. But, at the center of all these courses was the need for better collaboration.

Having said so, no two companies are the same. The synthesis of the best applicable strategy is the organization’s prerogative and privilege. Go find yours!

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