Collaboration is a different currency

In the last 25 years of consultancy life, in different ways and at different times, the same conversation seems to crop up.  “My team has the capability now – why should I work with that other team?”. It could be one geography asking this of another, for instance the India team questioning the need to collaborate with the UK team or sometimes one unit say the PR team having the question about the need to work with the digital team or the policy advocacy team. The answer is simple, when you needed the other team to pitch in at a time you did not have the capacity and capability it suited you to work with them. Now is it fair to take the work away from that team?

The best way forward lies in following the principle of “doing what is best for the client”. Not what is fair or right for internal P&L management. One of the lines from a conversation with a leader that stays with me is “collaboration is a different currency”. This was a very wise observation. If a reward and recognition structure is built solely on targets of revenue by business unit, there is no incentive for collaboration. On the other hand, if we recognise and reward collaboration with celebration of Co-created work output between different units and create structures that encourage collaboration, then the currency of exchange will change. It will start moving from ‘me’ to ‘we’.

Creating opportunities for collaboration and Co-creation requires intent backed with structural change. We mirror and mimic leadership behaviour so when we see leaders set the tone of collaboration then it normalises this as behaviour for teams down the line. The best guiding principle is to focus on doing what is in the best interest of the client. It is impossible to go wrong if you follow this simple formula. Enlightened self-interest and working for the client’s best interest align beautifully.

Instead of asking who gets the revenue ask how can we solve that for the client. When the solutions start flowing so does revenue and then there is enough for all to share. We must examine what and who has currency in a company – they are the ones who have the responsibility to set the tone and structure for collaboration.

Here are some of the ways we can help the currency of collaboration grow in strength and value.

  1. Celebrate the ‘we’ wins (don’t put individuals on a pedestal)
  2. Call out the contributions of different people (especially the unsung heroes who often work in the background but are often the backbone)
  3. Shine a light on the process. (Ensure that compliance and adherence to established collaborative ways of working are applauded)

If we make the currency of collaboration the most valuable internal coin, it will be treasured and traded every day and in all meetings. This is needed to shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’. Till then it will be a currency we invest in for those special occasions, while our everyday currency will remain me, myself, and my performance. What is the currency you and your team use?

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

Be the first to comment on "Collaboration is a different currency"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.