In a recent article published in Entrepreneur magazine, Sir Richard Branson explains why the best entrepreneurs and marketers seek out new conversations, new ideas and new ways of doing things. A common ‘myth’ of innovation and creativity is the belief in the lone creative genius toiling away on their masterpiece. In reality – most breakthroughs require smart, highly motivated, highly communicative, diverse and argumentative small teams of people, energised by good leaderships and working with good processes. This paragraph from this piece from Branson explains it brilliantly;
” Many people think that an entrepreneur is someone who operates alone, overcoming challenges and bringing his idea to market through sheer force of personality. This is completely inaccurate. Few entrepreneurs — scratch that: almost no one — ever achieved anything worthwhile without help. To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate.Finding ways to meet with people in the real world and build business relationships is becoming ever more important in the digital age. While in some industries it’s possible for employees to limit their communications to email and, if they wish, avoid interacting with colleagues (and their managers), that’s not possible for entrepreneurs, since relationships built on trust are vital to doing business.”
Now in its third year, the 2013 General Electric Innovation Barometer, a global survey of the barriers and drivers of innovation, once again reinforces the vital role of partnerships and collaboration to successful innovation. The Partnership Paradox remains too; innovation requires partnerships, many commentators extol their value, leaders and CEO’s desire them but most individuals and organisations struggle to build them. A lack of trust seems a constant reason why these valuable marketing relationships are often so hard to secure yet often so easy to lose.
My 2012 Tag Clouds from my blog and my Twitter feed show what has been colouring my conversations this year. From Collaboration to Partnerships from Innovation – by way of social media, super teams and creativity.
“Global companies that collaborate better, perform better. Those that collaborate less, do not perform as well. It’s just that simple.” ~ Jaclyn Kostner.
So true – and this excellent post goes on to outline some great research pieces including Colin Brown’s ‘Six Degrees of Collaboration, which contains an excellent quote;
” While business was once all about keeping one step ahead of your rivals, in today’s socially networked society, working together can lead to greater success. Steering the enlightened path is a new C-word that has emerged as the way forward for business: Collaboration. In today’s hyper-socialized economy, it’s not who you know that really counts, but who you don’t. The priority for many CEOs today is to break down the barriers that stand between them and their employees, their customers, their partners, their vendors – even their rivals. National boundaries are being bridged, corporate walls breached, expertise shared. Google’s Eric Schmidt’s prevailing mantra is ‘collaborate or perish’.
In ‘As You Like It’, William Shakespeare described the world as a stage, upon which we as actors, will change the parts we play. In the world of marketing relationships its important to know who you are, the role you play – and where others fit into your world. There are different dynamics at play in different levels of business relationships –
Sometimes a technology changes everything, not just within their own industry – but within those that connect to it. The trend becomes the ‘adjacent other’ – something from a different industry, area or market that impacts and changes yours. These changes, could open up new opportunities for you or they can be the springboard that your competitors were waiting for. Steam ships begat refrigeration, jet airplanes led the modern charter flight and tourism industry and famously microwave ovens – created a whole new way for blokes to prepare a curry, at half time during the match. Some marketers got up to speed, some missed it.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter explained about the collaborative advantage in her seminal essay ‘The Art Of Alliances’ back in 1994 and in her latest blog piece published today she neatly summarises the three reasons ‘why everything goes better with partners’. Over the past month I’ve been involved in many discussions about the role of partners, how best to develop and manage them – and the role of nurturing the most valuable relationships through a systematic programme.
The historian and philosopher Theodore Zeldin – founder of Oxford Muse.com says a lot with few words; “the kind of conversation I am interested in is one where you start it prepared to emerge from it a slightly different person”. As befits a great mind, this is a deceptively simple insight that contains within it a quite a profound truth. How often in business do you engage in a conversation where you are truly open to the ideas of others?
Marketers need to power up the radar, can the horizones and hone their ‘collaborative’ streak and realise, as some of the best brands in the world have, that the future is all about ‘partner or perish’ (to quote Xerox). Brands cannot go it alone they need to find collaborative allies.
In a recent article published in Marketing Society the editor of ‘Market Leader’ – Judie Lannon commented that marketers are getting ‘squeezed’ – as aspects of their role fall increasingly within the domain of others. She’s right of course – they’re getting squeezed. And to get away from the internal squeeze – marketers need to get out and engage and collaborate more. (You can see the original article and comments here. )