Myths of Collaboration


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Getting collaboration right promises tremendous benefits: a unified face to customers, faster internal decision-making, reduced costs through shared resources and the development of more innovative products. But despite the billions of dollars spent on initiatives to improve collaboration, few companies are happy with the results. Join us to uncover common myths about collaboration and learn how to encourage and develop real collaboration within your organization so that people drive business results across internal and geographic boundaries.

By the end of this session participants will be able to:

Identify if their organizations are falling prey to common myths of collaboration.
Implement strategies that will transform differences and disagreement from a liability to an asset, so that conflict becomes the crucible in which creative solutions are developed and wise trade-offs among competing objectives are made.

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Myths of Collaboration

  1. 1. Brighton Landing West 10 Guest Street Boston, MA USA 02135 www.vantagepartners.comThis publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in whole or in part, or in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission. Copyright © 2012 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.The Myths of CollaborationElizabeth Rayer, PrincipalCarol Bonett, Senior Consultant
  2. 2.  Mission: Drive measurable business results by transforming the waycompanies negotiate and manage relationships with key businesspartners Practice Areas: Strategic Alliances, Sourcing and Supplier Management,Corporate Education, Sales Effectiveness Spin-off of the Harvard Negotiation Project Faculty at Harvard University, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth,and the US Military Academy at West Point Leaders in international conflict resolution through CMG (now part ofMercy Corps) Arias Peace Accords Post-apartheid South African constitutionAbout Vantage PartnersCopyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All rights reserved. 1
  3. 3. Vantage Partners publicationsCopyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All rights reserved. 2
  4. 4.  Type in one or two words that come to mind when you think ofcollaboration within your organization?What does collaboration mean to you?3Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC.
  5. 5. Matrix Corporation is the worlds topprovider of products and services.Among the leaders in almost everymarket in which it competes, thecompany focuses primarily on itsgrowing services business, whichaccounts for well over half of sales.Welcome to Matrix CorporationCopyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved. 4
  6. 6. Meanwhile…5Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.How can we servecomplex accounts thatrequire seamlessinternal collaboration?
  7. 7.  For any given sale, four or morelead salespeople and their teamshave to agree on issues ofresource allocation, solutiondesign, pricing and sales strategyBoots-on-the-ground view of Matrix’s challenges…6Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Sales people from eight of Matrix’s product and servicegroups have been called on to design and sell integratedsolutions to their customers
  8. 8. The answer…7Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.BetterCollaboration!
  9. 9.  Matrix finds that a large sale generates so much internal conflictits actually getting harder to close deals Results: wasted time and damaged relationshipsThis just isn’t working!8Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  10. 10.  What’s the right result and how do we get to it? In an attempt to avoid conflict people begin to avoid having tocollaborate at any cost Or they become confrontational, fighting over who’s right andwho’s wrong or haggling over small concessions The Results? No real value gained as people either “split-the-difference” or find themselves in outright deadlockFrustration takes over…9Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  11. 11. Matrix makes a plan to improve collaboration10Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC.
  12. 12.  They run hundreds of managers and individual contributorsthrough an intensive two-day training on teamwork.“Teamwork” training11Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  13. 13.  Breakdowns occur not on actual teams but in the rapid andunstructured interactions between different groups within theorganizations Breakdowns almost always result from fundamental differencesamong business functions and divisions. Teamwork trainingoffers little guidance on how to work together in the context ofcompeting objectives and limited resources People who need to collaborate more effectively typically don’tneed to align around a common goal. They need to quickly andcreatively solve problems by managing inevitable conflictMyth 1: Effective Collaboration means “teaming”12Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  14. 14.  Sales people will receivebonuses not only for hittingtargets for their owndivision’s products but alsofor hitting cross-selling targets Staff in corporate functionslike IT and procurement willhave part of their bonusesdetermined by their ability toget positive feedback fromtheir internal clientsSo teamwork training didn’t get the results Matrixhoped for…13Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Let’s try a new incentive systemto encourage collaboration.
  15. 15.  Sales people still focused on the sale of their own products to thedetriment of selling integrated solutions Employees continued to perceive IT and procurement as difficultto work with - too focused on their own priorities Why? Individuals believed if they performed well in their owndepartments/operations they would be “taken care of” by theirbosses The costs of working with individuals in other parts of theorganization – the extra time and aggravation – greatly outweigh therewards for doing soMyth 2: An effective incentive system will ensurecollaboration14Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  16. 16.  New structural and proceduralsolutions: Cross-functional task forces Collaborative “groupware” Webs of dotted reporting lineson the org chart to creategreater internal collaborationSo the bonuses didn’t help either…15Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Let’s try restructuring.That will help them tocollaborate more.
  17. 17. Matrix decides to form cross-unit account teams to drive collaboration Account Management, Delivery and Service are redeployed to form acore team to service key accounts This new structure will serve to mitigate intra-department conflictand increase cooperation The core team will now be able to prioritize projects and optimallydeploy resources Results are disappointing To avoid conflict around prioritization, core team members quickly learnto bring their requests to their own solid-line managers The extra layer of dotted lines adds complexity to decision makingwithout any measurable productivity gainsMyth 3 – Organizations can be structured forcollaboration16Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  18. 18.  You can’t improve collaboration if your goal is to eliminateconflict Recognize that efforts to increase collaboration (especially in thecase of restructuring) will mostly likely produce conflict Conflict is inevitable and important Disagreements sparked by different perspectives, competencies,access to information, and strategic focus within the companyactually generates much of the value that can come fromcollaboration across organizational boundariesRoot cause?17Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  19. 19.  Clashes between parties are thecrucibles in which creativesolutions are developed and wisetrade-offs among competingobjectives are made Instead of trying to simply toreduce disagreements, MatrixSenior Executives have decidedto embrace conflict, andinstitutionalize the mechanismsfor managing itMatrix’s new perspective…18Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Manageconflict!
  20. 20.  Strategies for managing disagreements at the point of conflict1. Devise and implement a common method for resolving conflict2. Provide people with criteria for making trade-offs3. Use escalation of conflict as an opportunity for coaching Strategies for managing conflict upon escalation1. Establish and enforce a requirement of joint escalation2. Ensure that managers resolve escalated conflicts directly withtheir counterparts3. Make the process for escalated conflict resolution transparentSix Strategies for Managing Conflict19Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  21. 21.  Establish a companywide process for resolving disagreements Reduce transaction costs (wasted time, accumulation of ill will) Increase chances of innovative outcomes Clear step-by-step process Integral part of existing business activitiesStrategy 1: Devise and implement a commonmethod for resolving conflict20Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  22. 22.  Provide a common method for solving conflict…may still need tomake zero-sum trade-offs between competing priorities Top management needs to clearly articulate the criteria formaking such choices (not easy but worth it) Even if its not straightforward, guidelines can foster productivecommunication Example: tell sales people that five points in market share ismore important than a ten point increase on in customersatisfaction on a surveyStrategy 2: Provide people with criteria formaking trade-offs21Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  23. 23. Starting point: At Matrix, employees learned the best thing to do with cross-unitconflict was to toss it up the management chain Managers at Matrix spend much of their time playing theorganizational equivalent of hot potato They take a quick pass at resolving the issue, but being busythemselves, they typically toss the problem upstairs Senior managers are a number of steps removed from the sourceof the controversy and rarely have a good understanding of theproblem…and subordinates have little opportunity to learn howto deal with conflictStrategy 3: Use escalation of conflict as anopportunity for coaching22Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  24. 24.  Coaching for conflict: Executives get training on conflictmanagement and are offered online resources to help themcoach others.Strategy 3: Use escalation of conflict as anopportunity for coaching23Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved. One tool on thecorporate intranet walksmanagers through avariety of conversationsthey might have with adirect report who isstruggling to resolve adispute
  25. 25.  Equipped with common conflict resolutions, trade-off criteria andsupported by systematic coaching…but certain complex disputeswill inevitably need to be decided by managers Matrix managers needed to make sure that, upon escalationconflict is resolved constructively and efficiently To avoid hearing “one-sided” stories and the subsequentdeadlock, subordinates must present a disagreement jointly totheir boss or bosses Goal: reduce or eliminate the suspicion, surprises, and damagedpersonal relationships associated with unilateral escalationStrategy 4: Establish and enforce a requirement ofjoint escalation24Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  26. 26.  Managers refuse to respond to unilateral escalation Subordinates must jointly write up a description of the problem,what has been done so far to resolve it and its possible solutions Send it to their bosses and stand ready to appear together toanswer questions Result? Requirement of systematically documenting the problemhelped people think through and solve the problems themselveswith fewer needing to be escalatedStrategy 4: Establish and enforce a requirement ofjoint escalation25Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  27. 27. Starting Point: Not unusual for Matrix managers to escalate problems that hadbeen brought to them In the end the decision was usually made unilaterally by thesenior manager with the most organizational clout, which bredresentment back down the management chain A sense of “we will win next time” took hold Set a poor example and wasted timeStrategy 5: Ensure that managers resolveescalated conflicts directly with their counterparts26Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  28. 28.  Commitment by managers (codified by a formal policy) to dealwith escalated conflict directly with their counterparts Created standing calls for managers from across the company todiscuss and resolve cross-unit conflicts that were hinderingimportant sales e.g. the difficulty sales people faced in gettingneeded technical resources from overstretched product groups.Strategy 5: Ensure that managers resolveescalated conflicts directly with their counterparts27Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  29. 29.  A problem is escalated, solved jointly and the decision isdelivered down the chain of command…then what? How was this decision made? Based on which assumptions? A frank discussion of the trade-offs involved provided guidance topeople trying to resolve similar conflicts in the future Clear communication about the resolution of a conflict canincrease people’s willingness and ability to implement decisionsStrategy 6: Make the process for escalated conflictresolution transparent28Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  30. 30.  On a scale of 1 – 10, how well is your company using these sixstrategies?Poll29Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC.
  31. 31.  Conflict is a valuable resource to be managed and exploited Recognize patterns and trends from recurring disputes asunaddressed strains within an organization Conflict can provide new perspectives on a variety of issuesKey Takeaways30Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
  32. 32.  We are undertaking a study about the dynamics of working in amatrixed organization and the prevalence and effectiveness ofdifferent influence strategies, and welcome your participation This survey is completely anonymous; responses will only bereported in aggregate and will not be attributed to any individualor company The survey will take approximately ten minutes to complete andyou will receive a complimentary report of our in a Matrix – Survey31Copyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC.
  33. 33. A spin-off ofthe Harvard Negotiation Project,Vantage Partners helpscompanies achieve breakthroughbusiness results by transforming theway they negotiate with,and manage relationships with, theirsuppliers, customers,and alliance partners — andenhancing collaboration acrossinternal organizational boundaries.Vantage Partners10 Guest StreetBoston, MA 02135USAT: +1 617.354.6090F: +1 617.354.4685www.vantagepartners.comCopyright © 2013 by Vantage Partners, LLC. All rights reserved. 32