Collaborate > Innovate + Automate

Collaborate > Innovate + Automate

I have spent the past year meeting and talking to SME business owners, C-level executives, senior to mid-level managers, service industry professionals and even graduates looking for or having just started jobs. Each and everyone has specific set of skills, knowledge, talent and passion for what they do, and a keen sense of direction of where they want to go.

Many of us are influenced by the success of our business icons like Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Richard Branson (Virgin), Elon Musk (Tesla) and…heck…even Donald Trump (Trump).

We see the dollars in billions, and the publicity, fame, following and so on…but we don’t see the millions of people behind these individuals who helped them reach this status. Many successful people have reach those levels through the support of their family or friends or even key supporters who helped them through their tough times, so they stay true to their goals and dreams of building the next big thing.

But even that’s not enough, what I find is most amazing is their ability to collaborate. Yes, we have heard stories of each one of them being eccentric and difficult, but truly, you can’t please everyone all the time, and definitely not, when millions or billions in revenue is at stake.

Collaboration is the ability of one individual or entity to reach out to another and work out a solution together to a given problem, so as to achieve an end outcome with purpose. 

So how does one prepare oneself to be a top collaborator? How does one build this ability to reach out to another, and ask for their resources, and then utilise those assets to create / grow an opportunity into a viable business service or product? 

It’s by building a mindset that is always searching to fill gaps that exist – within a market / industry / service / product / company / job. When you’re always looking to close the gap, and improve a product / service for the benefit of the customers, and for increased profitability, then you’ve got the entrepreneurial approach.

With this mindset, everything looks possible, and every difficulty an opportunity to create something better, bigger, faster, smarter. Spending money is seen as investing in future growth rather than expenses. Good collaborators are visionary, as in they see what might be, than just what is.

Collaboration is the cornerstone of every freedom struggle, from historical heroes to modern leaders like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. In politics, in education, in science, you will see collaboration taking place.

Ideas are being shared, knowledge is being distributed, and people are being trained through R&D, to find ways to make things work, across different departments, companies, industries and nations.

A great example of collaboration is a Formula 1 or Le Mans 24 Racing team. They use all the R&D learnt on the track, to take back to the manufacturing set up, and make improvements and innovations in their road cars. Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Jaguar, Nissan, Audi , Toyota – all use these processes to continually bring the next best car on the road.

On a human level, there are a few steps or skills necessary to have, before collaboration happens. You need to know how to network so you can meet the right people. You need to be good communicator so you can both listen attentively and speak fluently. Your ability to remember names of people within your network so you can connect the opportunity to the person at the right moment. And above all, be able to negotiate well when it’s needed.

The buzzword in the past decade in business is automate. Everyone seems to be automating their processes and people, but within the office walls how many are really collaborating. I’ve worked in corporate roles, where one person on one floor doesn’t ever know what someone else within the same floor or building is doing, let alone the whole organisation. This leads to waste of time and resources, which is being paid for but not being put to good use.

Now look at a progressive company, where staff are encouraged to speak their mind, and share their ideas, and then go and work on projects with freedom. This is not uncommon in Facebook or Google, and you can see why, they lead the market in terms of revenue, position and growth.

In India, there is a saying that we 1 + 1 join then its not 2 but 11. Mathematically absurb, but when collaboration truly happens, then it’s possible.

In my business, I have recently collaborated with a leading stylist to offer an upscale made to measure service, which offers luxurious quality and personalised service. The aim being to please those that are looking for the best, and don’t want to compromise on their style or choices.

To reach the point of starting this business, it’s taken months of talking and sharing ideas, concepts, etc. Finding the best fit in terms of business model, customer service and innovation, so that we are at the edge of offering the next best thing. With quality improvement and control, comes the responsibility of maintaining a competitive price point, so the product / service is a viable option for customers to consider. All of which came out through collaboration.

So yeah, speaking from personal experience, never discount what’s possible through collaboration, as long as you’re prepared to honestly put in the time and effort to see it through. Try collaborating with others, even competitors, and you’ll find that business and life is not really as difficult as its made out to be.

Please let me know what you think of this post, and share your views and examples of how and when you’ve collaborated with the type of outcome you’ve had. Maybe we can collaborate at some point, and I’m certainly open to suggestions.

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