More For Less
Watching BBC2’s Horizon Special last night presented by Liz Bonnin I was struck by a recurring theme: Collaboration. I have long been an advocate of this approach be it between individuals or like minded companies and especially on the theme of my last post on ‘One Team’ where when suppliers in a service delivery business collaborate and become coherent the service business starts to literally achieve ‘more for less’.
You can watch the programme on BBC iPlayer or look at the content here.
Scientific and engineering progress is no longer the domain of the solitary expert working in isolation in a lab or workshop, things are developing at such a pace that by the time they shouted ‘eureka’ their discovery would not be unique. Also as we know more about science and the laws of the universe it becomes impossible to progress without multidisciplinary collaboration. One brain is simply not powerful enough. Imagine the progress possible once we get beyond the ‘Singularity’. See my post Vote HAL For President .
So what are the reasons for collaboration coming to the fore? If we look to examples from the past typically collaboration was the result of a compromise or deadlock meaning that two competing parties were compelled to work together rather than one lose all of an opportunity. Witness coalition governments, but is this really collaboration or just ‘serial compromise’? There is a massive difference. Serial compromise is a moderating process and true collaboration achieves something greater than the sum of the parts.
Here’s a couple of good examples of collaboration in recent time:
- Wikipedia, now the ‘go to’ reference source for nearly everything we want to know. Its not long ago that MicroSoft invested millions of dollars in Encarta which we had to pay for and was always needing to be updated. Wikipedia is richer, more current and its free with its content being produced by people all over the world who are experts in their field.
- Linux, this operating system wasn’t developed in secrecy by a multinational, Linux is the finest example of open software collaboration, it is powerful and efficient and is freely distributable. Even the Android mobile OS now used in over 75% of SmartPhones is based on the Linux kernel.
What is bringing about this change?
There are 3 things that are coming together to make this change possible and really we are only at the cusp of this, if you will, the ‘Inflexion Point’.
- Global information communication via the internet allowing ideas to be published exchanged and developed rapidly
- A tempering of investment, often the funds are not there but the need and passion and the ideas certainly are
- The information processing explosion, the power of personal computing, the ability to perform tasks on devices which in the past would have required massive investment typically requiring a large company.
6 Reasons to Embrace a Collaborative Approach
- It really is possible to achieve ‘more for less’ and in this economy that is compelling
- Technological advancement is of benefit to mankind so if it can be done it should be done
- Collaboration in your supply chain will take out cost, increase efficiency and increase customer satisfaction more than anything you can do alone. See my post A New Game from Old Lessons – One Team
- Collaboration takes out the inefficiencies of human endeavour, it makes thought and action processes coherent, it reduces the ‘Brownian Motion’ of uncoordinated research and development and makes lives more fulfilling
- The opposite of collaboration is competition, competition has its place but only when keeping score is more important than the outcome
- It increases the horizon of what is possible, in business, in science and for mankind and after all, isn’t that what we are here for?