The key is not to reformulate collaboration as something else to do, in addition to other priorities, but as a fundamental means to address all the challenges of the organization
I recently had the opportunity to participate in Lisbon in the III International Conference of the Forum for Integrated Governance that was conducted with the motto of «Collaboration: Impossible Mission». The initiative had the institutional support of the Ministry of Presidency and Administrative Modernization and the Ministry of Labor, Solidarity and Social Security of Portugal, and was attended by several national and international speakers, experts on the subject of collaboration that shared their knowledge and experiences of collaboration between organizations.
For me it was very gratifying to see the level of consensus in the Forum about the need to seek a new balance between hierarchy as a guarantor of predictability and control and netarchy as the engine of innovation and growth. The reality is that the imperatives of integrated management, necessary for citizen-centered public administration, are not achievable only with the hierarchical, highly centralized and bureaucratic structures that we have built so far.
The social web shows us every day that sharing creates value. But building a collaborative organization is not an easy task and requires a transformative approach to culture, new collaborative processes, and the social technologies that make it possible. And above all it requires the example and unwavering commitment of management. Fostering a culture of collaboration represents a great opportunity for organizations to develop the full potential of people in terms of creativity, initiative and passion for what they do.
Collaboration between organizations at the operational level allows us not only to increase productivity, to make staff work more effective, and to improve organizational communication, but also to enable a new generation of services centered and designed for citizens. Collaboration is not only the way to achieve an integrated governance, but is the basis for open innovation in a complex world that requires, every day more, collective responses. Collaboration in public administration allows us to make a giant leap forward in areas such as relations with citizens, acceleration of open innovation, or the introduction of new one-stop services that make life easier for people and businesses.
Three key elements for collaboration Collaboration is not easy, but it’s worth the effort. In a global world of accelerated changes, the borders of our organizations become liquid and work teams are increasingly virtual, dispersed or multifunctional and composed of members that have not been known in many cases before. Setting up a multidisciplinary team with representation at all levels of the organization to lead a collaborative initiative requires:
- Culture of collaboration. Culture is the DNA of an organization and is an essential pillar for any successful collaboration. Collaborative organizations thrive in a culture of openness, flexibility, and shared goals. In a true collaborative culture, people trust each other and share information to better serve the needs of citizens or management.
- Collaborative Leadership. The context in which our future leaders have to operate is quite different from what we were accustomed to in the previous decade. Therefore, leadership styles need adaptation. Effective leadership in today’s climate requires flexible collaboration, listening, influence, and adaptability, rather than command and control. For collaboration to be successful, leaders need to be authentic and transparent in decision-making.
- New spaces and times for collaboration. The new social technologies naturally connect people inside and outside the organization making possible the emergence of a collaborative culture, where sharing creates value. But it is essential to dedicate new spaces and times that make possible the collaboration without sacrificing the current operational capacity. Organizational duality, hierarchy and redarchy, consists precisely in reformulating collaboration so that it is not «something else to do», one more element in the list of priorities, but a fundamental means to address all the priorities of the business.
Collaborative leadership model
Collaborative leadership consists precisely in mobilizing others – outside and within our area of responsibility – to achieve understanding and agreement on what needs to be done and how to do it, facilitating the individual and collective efforts of adaptation and developing the new skills and habits necessary to adapt to the new circumstances.
Unlike formal leadership, where authority derives from our position, collaborative leadership is exercised from our personal power and our credibility. It does not originate, therefore, in the position we occupy, but in our proactive action as leaders, based on our passion and compromise, our self-confidence and our ability to take the initiative and lead the necessary changes.
How to make it happen in our organizations ?. Basically responding systemically and continuously to the different challenges, working as a flexible and agile network, outside but aligned with the traditional hierarchy, establishing a coalition guide of change drivers exemplifying the collaborative behaviors and constantly seeking opportunities, and launching new initiatives to capitalize them.
Collaboration is a transformative journey, not an isolated project. Leaders who take the time to instill a culture of teamwork and collaboration will empower their organizations with the speed, adaptability, productivity and innovation required to grow and thrive in a world of accelerating change. And on this journey, you will discover that it is worth the investment, since the collaboration is equally powerful in its ability to support business goals as to frustrate them.
I share my contribution to the event[slideshare id=71329468&doc=integratedgovernmentjc-170124131456]