Multiple value creation: 4 tips for successful collaboration

Truly successful collaboration is difficult. No less than 60 to 80 percent of collaborations fail, research shows. However, in tomorrow’s economy

However, in tomorrow’s economy, cooperation between organisations and people will become increasingly important. It is necessary for an organisation to survive. And for achieving multiple value creation, where economic, ecological and social values are in balance. So the question is: how do you work together successfully? Four building blocks for successful collaboration. With surprising results.

What is collaboration?

Working together is about being able to deal with differences. In ambition, interests and relationships. For a successful cooperation it is very important to connect the differences. This can be a challenge, because each party has to give up some of its autonomy. It creates an area of tension between its own interests and the common interests of the cooperation. Conflicting interests are common in a cooperation. The trick is to connect these interests.

Three ways of working together

Multiple value creation is therefore about joint innovation based on cooperation. In theory, there are three ways of working together:

According to the principles of the market (the marble bag)

Organizations operate independently of each other. This is a short-lived barter exchange, less suitable for multiple value creation, which in fact requires a long-term cooperative relationship between organizations.

According to the principles of hierarchy (the rake)

The classic form of control. There is a central steering body that coordinates everything tightly on the basis of fixed dependency relationships and formal procedures. Less suitable for multiple value creation, because an organisation must be able to respond quickly to the changing market.

This approach works well in extreme life-and-death crisis situations. However, research shows that this approach does not always work equally well in other circumstances. This is because the connection with managers and the shop floor is missing, while it is important that managers and employees are given the space to shape change processes themselves.

Many organizations therefore choose a bottom-up approach. The risk here is that the connection with the management will deteriorate, so that it remains a project because no decisions are taken. It is therefore better to opt for a combination of top-down and bottom-up: the inter-medium approach.

According to the principles of the organization network (the pancake)

Here the power is divided between different organizations. A major advantage is the flexibility and ability to deal with change. This creates competitive advantage. It requires embracing uncertainty. Thanks to the relationship, parties can easily exchange knowledge, products and services. The adage is not ‘everyone a boss’, but ‘everyone the boss’. The leadership and the power are then often shared between different people.Effective leaders recognize, acknowledge and leverage the difference in interests and perspective between organizations.The pancake we also call: the organizational network.

Four key factors for successful collaboration

There are many nonsense theories about collaboration. Few theories areevidence-based, so much unnecessary knowledge, resources and energy are wasted in practice. Precisely because cooperation is so complicated and many collaborations fail. Therefore, a model for effective collaboration has been developed (see Figure 1). This model has been scientifically validated. Below is an elaboration of the key factors that proved to be predictive of the success of a partnership over several years.

4B model cooperation Figure 1

Upstream key factors (ratio)

This includes factors related to rational strategic choices:

Defining a shared vision and strategy

With every organizational change, it is important to define a vision and strategy of the organizational network. Where do we want to go with the organization? What do we do and what do we not do? And how will we contribute to society in the coming years?

Read more about defining vision and strategy in this blog

Steering the joint decision-making process

How do we set up the organisation network (the ‘pancake’)? Who has what roles and responsibilities? This must be properly recorded for successful cooperation.

Undercurrent key factors (emotion)

Undercurrent key factors we mean all non-rational, cultural aspects:

Discussing the interests

What are the interests of each partner in the organisation network? What will each bring in terms of knowledge, people and money? Discuss the social interest, the organisational interest and the personal interest. The social interest is the least important, and in the healthcare sector it is often about ‘putting the client first’. It is more exciting to expose the organisational interest. The personal interest is usually not discussed, although it is very important.

Research has shownthat this is the fundamental success factor for collaboration in an organisational network.

Creating meaning for all stakeholders

Also discuss what value the collaboration brings to each partner. This can be a very rational value, such as purchasing advantage. An appealing vision is important so that every cooperation partner can identify with it.

Work on all key factors

Research showed that the key factors ‘governance’ and ‘interests’ had to be in order at the start of the cooperation in order to be successful three years later. It also turned out that partnerships that focused on all the key factors were more successful than partnerships that focused on one or more of the key factors. It also turned out to be crucial to keep identifying the ‘interests’, the development of joint decision-making (‘governance’) and the unlocking of personal values (‘meaning’) during the collaboration.

Zunder friction no shineas it turns out

Another interesting result: it takes a turbulent cooperation process to connect the four key factors. It is therefore a good idea to have a constructive “quarrel” every now and then (Figure 2). However, if partners are risk-averse and do not dare to put their organizational and personal interests on the table, it is a recipe for failure.

Phasing of successful cooperation

Figure 2

Do you want to know more about value creating leadership? Then download the ebook Leadership in the Economy of Value below. Or click here for our leadership training courses.

Pim Valentijn

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