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Business people are often caricatured as hard-nosed, competitive and single-minded – their mantra “my way or the high way”.

Blog & Insights


Collaborate to succeed!

Posted on 2nd January, 2016 in General

Posted By SWGS Team

“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” —Charles Darwin

Business people are often caricatured as hard-nosed, competitive and single-minded – their mantra “my way or the high way”.  But the truth is, this stereotype is not accurate and all organisations are waking up to the fact that to survive, let alone flourish, collaboration strategies are crucial for success. 

Collaboration can positively impact in a number of dimensions.  Below are just a few of the possible choices:

  • Reducing costs.  Often the initial driver, conversations with other organisations about sharing roles or premises, can lead to wider partnership opportunities.
  • Accessing new customers.  Being able to offer products and services beyond their own networks can be very attractive, and with social media engagement can be very successful.
  • Accessing new marketing channels.  Where products have been previously accessed through one channel, working with selected partners can help build new routes to market.
  • Accessing new capability.  Where your company lacks a specific skill set, collaboration can be a great way to source this capability quickly.  Where one of the partners is looking for an exit strategy this can be an excellent way to bring this to reality.
  • Creating scale.  Particularly where organisations have expensive production processes, collaboration can help achieve greater savings and efficiency. 
  • Innovation.  Combining talents can generate greater creative opportunities and not only between organisations, for instance, collaboration with customers is one of the best ways to support product and service improvement.
  • Suppliers.  Perhaps to assure continuity or creating a competitive advantage by accessing consistent supply.

7 Steps to Collaboration! 

1. Articulate why you want to collaborate and consider whether this could be achieved through other approaches.  What is your key driver: Cost reduction? New customers?  Innovation? 

2. Identify the potential partner(s) and research them.  Are they really the right ones for you?  Do they have the capabilities you require? Could you work with them? 

3. Approach them direct or through a trusted adviser at the right level and identify whether they are keen to talk more.  At this point you should be careful about giving too much information away but also you need to generate sufficient rapport.  Remember most collaboration breaks down at this stage through a lack of trust. 

4. Identify an agenda of areas you are prepared to discuss.  You might want to agree confidentiality arrangements.   

5. Agree a timetable and approach.  You don’t need to go the whole hog…why not build trust through piloting an approach?  There are a whole range of collaboration options from preferred partner status to full mergers.  

6. Even for limited collaborations it is important to document the agreement, considering areas such as: 


  • Purpose and objectives of the collaboration. 
  • Key targets. 
  • Escalation routes. 
  • Review and termination dates. 
  • Allocation of costs and revenue. 
  • Ownership of intellectual property and assets.

7. Finally, make sure you create a structure whereby both parties regularly review progress, building trust and rapport.

Chris Lorimer is a Director of South West Growth Service Limited. For further information, contact Chris at [email protected]

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