Coopetition is often cited as a modern business strategy, but the term was actually coined way back in the 1940s. Its novelty has long since worn off, and in today’s unforgiving market, it’s no longer relevant. A more appropriate way to expand business success is described with a less imaginative word that encompasses a more effective activity – collaboration. What exactly that entails, however, and how it’s best done are often misunderstood.
Ignacio J. Martinez-Moyano, a computational social scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, wrote a book about collaboration. He defined it as “the process of two or more people or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal.” Sounds simple enough. But in reality, there’s a lot packed into that short statement.
Return on Investment
First, there’s the issue of what it means to be “working together.” There are a lot of meetings, phone calls and conference discussions that are characterized as collaboration, but aren’t. The interactions may even result in an agreement or the formation of a partnership or joint venture, but they still aren’t collaboration.
Why? Because in the end, nothing happens. No task is completed or no goal is achieved. The collaboration is announced with great fanfare, and then instead of actually “working together,” the two parties go their separate ways. They don’t cross-sell, cross-promote, integrate or institute any kind of new behavior that combines the advantages of both parties into something that helps to build business. One plus one doesn’t equal three; it equals one-and-a-half.
The only justification for the investment of time, energy and effort required to implement a successful collaboration is the gaining of competitive advantage. If the discussion required to initiate a collaboration doesn’t substantially move the needle in terms of an organization’s sales, market position or brand power, it’s not worth doing. Period.
Collaboration can be used to complete any of a number of different tasks or to achieve any of a number of goals. It should not, however, be initiated because of some vague notion that talking to others is a worthwhile activity. That’s called networking, which can of course be beneficial, but it’s not collaboration. It’s not going to move the needle in terms of an organization’s sales, market position or brand power.
Instead, collaboration, at least collaboration that’s worth doing, has a specific goal, and everyone involved should be clear on what that desired outcome is. To put it another way, the most successful collaborations occur when the members of both parties come into the relationship with their eyes open and fixed on what they want to get out of it.
What are some appropriate goals for collaboration? They include:
• The formation of a strategic partnership or joint venture;
• The development of interoperability among different organizations’ products; and
• The acquisition or exchange of competitive intelligence and/or information.
Where can you do effective collaboration? Well, almost anywhere. But here’s the rub: it’s often difficult to get the right parties together and to do so in an environment that fosters meaningful discussion. It seldom happens, for example, on the exhibit floor or in the hallways during coffee breaks at traditional conferences. It’s too hard to connect with the right people and when they do connect, there’s only time for a superficial exchange of information and ideas.
That’s why the TAtech Fall Congress & World Job Board Forum features something called the TAtech Deal Center. Unlike a conference exhibit hall, it’s specifically designed to facilitate meaningful B2B discussions. And, those interactions begin even before the conference starts. An online scheduler enables conference goers to see who else is attending and to preschedule meetings with them in the Deal Center. There’s no missing out on important connections and there’s plenty of time to explore a collaboration with each and all of them.
Coopetition had its day; in today’s ever-morphing market, collaboration is king.
Food for Thought,
TAprose and Job Board Journalist by Peter Weddle are brought to you by TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.
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