Flat hierarchies, redefined leadership models and wicked problems: business partnerships face several challenges when working together. What’s needed is a new language of collaboration.
Is it possible that today we are operating in a new economy, one in which collaboration is inevitable? We believe there are three trends that foster the momentum leading to collaboration among organisations from for-profit, not-profit, and government sectors.
First, we are interconnected through wicked problems. These are the types of problems that demand innovation and can morph into related problems. Such is the case with environmental problems like water shortages: how will the agricultural, food or beverage industries be sustainable without addressing water issues? Consider educational problems that can have devastating effects on our workforce and organisational bottom lines: how can organisations be competitive without prepared workers? Wicked problems demand creative thinking from the best and brightest from all sectors and stakeholders of a working society.
Adding to the momentum of collaboration are the internal needs of organisations to innovate and capture ideas and energy that might be previously slowed in traditional hierarchies. Organisational structures are in the midst of change. Leadership is being redefined as having the ability to work with a range of stakeholders in and outside of a single organisation. Cutting edge organisations are adopting flattened hierarchies and collaborative mindsets to harness their talent.
Which leads to the third contributor towards collaboration in and amongst organisations – a ready workforce. Younger generations of workers may be the most collaborative-ready workers yet. They are comfortable with technologies that ease the difficulties of collaborating across organisations and indeed continents. They are known to have had close relationships with parents and other authorities in their life, cultivating a worldview of flattened power relationships. In other words, they eschew hierarchies anyway, and hierarchies are problematic for collaboration. Finally, they thrive on connection, which is at the heart of collaborating.