Simon Terry

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Who owns collaboration? You do

Lead users to realise the value of better collaboration

Twice last week in conversation I stumbled across the challenge of who owns collaboration. Once was an organisation grappling with who “owned collaboration”. Once was a tech company who noted that their valuable tools lacked a natural “owner” in their clients. This is such a common challenge at least one vendor proposes the effort of annual reviews of ownership.

In many cases what drives the debate about ownership is the need to cut a cheque to invest in a better solution. Imagine if the English language had a license fee. I can imagine the organizational debate about who owned English and who had to maintain it. People see the immediate inconvenience, the benefits are diffuse and there is often a tricky path to realizing value for the company strategy.

In other situations ownership debates arise from the number of parties involved. Ownership is a problematic concept with something that inherently involves multiple silos and many engaged people.

Having spent much of my working life being asked the question of “who owns the customer?” I have the same answer:

The end user does.

Each customer owns their relationship with an organisation. Decisions should be made to meet the customers needs. We need to reflect the customers right to choose or they will go elsewhere. That means everyone in the organisation needs to put the customer first. Everyone needs to put their ego in check and deliver on the best experience the whole organisation can deliver.

Collaboration is owned by the users

Collaboration is no different. Those who collaborate, the employees and other users, own collaboration in your organisation. After all, they make decisions each day to invest their critical time in collaboration to create value for themselves and the organisation. Increasingly, they can engage elsewhere. Engaging users is the best way to create, sustain and build value from collaboration.

Every organisation needs leaders to make sure that that activity is supported & guided to benefit the organisation’s purpose and strategy. In enlightened organisations, just as with customers, support will come from the highest levels. If not, it is up to you to take responsibility to support the users in your organisation.

How do leaders help users own collaboration?

When nobody else will step forward to advocate for a critical skill for future organisations, it is essential that you do. Leading users to own their own collaboration and create increasing value will deliver huge rewards for you and your organisation.


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