Value-Focused Transformative Collaborations (VTFC)
Transforming Partnerships to Co-Creative Collaborations
The focus of APEX STP, LLC is working with executive business leaders and their teams to identify astute insights that transform their business collaborations.
APEX STP, LLC specializes in helping leaders make the most from their collaborations.
Innovative collaborations involves going beyond alliance management, relationships, trust and constructive conflict management.
We bring an independent perspective to these relationships, diagnose problems and resolve issues.
APEX STP, LLC has developed a collaboration assessment and action planning tool and process (VFTC) that can be used to establish effective collaborations or used as a health check for existing alliances. The assumption underlying this tool and process, is that modern business involves complex organizations and networks through partnerships and collaborations with academia, industry alliances and service providers. There are many challenges associated with these alliances, particularly due to differences in size and the nature of the collaborators, different motivations and agendas, organizational politics and different cultures. These challenges may be magnified if the aim of the collaboration is to generate innovative solutions.
In many alliances there is a focus on the task and delivery factors, such as reasons for entering the alliance, getting the right partner(s), identify possible synergies, driving to outcomes, alliance structure. I would suggest that there is less of a focus on trust and relationship factors, such as making the most of organizational differences, chemistry between partners, working together in collaboration, alliance leadership and communications and collaborative technologies.
One possible reason for this lies in the way in which the deals are made. The first part of the deal is identify a need and setting a vision, selecting a partner, working out the details of the contract and the deal. The second part is execution on the deal. It is my experience that the first part of making the deal is done by a business development group that usually is not involved in leading the alliance the execution phase. They are often rewarded for the number of deals they deliver and not on the quality of the execution. It is contended that for an deal execution to be successful, individuals involved in making the alliance work should be involved in establishing the deal and putting in place factors that build trust and relationships during the negotiation phase.
If an alliance focuses too much on the task and delivery factors and too little on building trust and relational factors there is a risk that the partnership will be “transactional” in nature and will deliver the basics of the deal. For example, if you are hiring a service provider such as a plumber to fix a leak that has occurred in your house, the expectation is that you want the plumber to fix the leak. This is a high task delivery situation and there is little expectation that trust and relationships will be formed. However, if the alliance is high on trusting and relationship factors but does not deliver on expectations, the situation can be described as an “unproductive friendship”. In a situation when both trust and relationship and task and delivery factors are low, there is a risk that the relationship will be a “fruitless liason". If however the aim of the alliance is to be a transformative, co-creative collaboration , it is my contention that both task and delivery factors and trust and relationship factors need to be high.
Co-creative, decentralized complex networks (CDCNs) are a natural evolution of the Coasean framework- as technology has lowered transaction costs and made it easier to do business across boundaries. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry there is an increasing reliance on licensing deals with biotechnology companies and collaborations with academic organizations to provide innovative drugs. This has led to a decreased internal capability in a number of companies and a reliance on co-creation of innovative science. In addition there is a reliance on contract research organizations (CROs) to develop their drugs. Both of these situations has led to the need for leaders to change their behavior from use of authorative power in hierarchical structures to the need to influence others in de-centralized matrices.
Advances in technology, particularly in the areas of communication and collaborative tools, have enabled organizations to become global by reducing virtual distance, but also enable collaborations in complex networks with external partners. Leader need to develop skills and behaviors that take advantage of these tools and who can build relationships and trust without meeting face to face.
Finally, new social networks and circles can be formed driven by social media technology. This has broadened the opportunity to collaborate with “strangers” across geographical and organizational boundaries. Social networks allow people to meet with a diversity of knowledge and skills that may not have even met before. There is less reliance on building relationships with individuals within a firm or in a local neighborhood. Leaders in this environment need to exhibit behaviors that are not necessarily natural to them in forming trusting relationships with people they do not know. The ability to connect with people and to connect other people with each other in a network is a key skill.
The nature of leadership in co-creative, decentralized complex networks relies upon the leaders ability to be connective across boundaries, build and manage relationships and trust, be influential, as well as being impactful and making things happen.
To achieve the aim of making Co-creative, decentralized complex networks more productive, APEXSTP, LLC work with leaders of collaborations and their teams in the following ways:
Guidance in setting up new collaborations.
Independent health-check for current collaborations
Design and delivery of workshops -managing productive collaborations.
You may be thinking how this can apply to my business, ….if we are successful you will:
Form productive relationships and build trust with your collaboration partners
Have teams that are working together in creative way and delivering more than what was expected from the relationship (Co-creation)
Have the ability to identify and resolve conflict in a constructive way – preserving and developing trust and relationships