From Individualistic to Collaborative: The Value of Partnerships

Karolina Congdon on November 14, 2017

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people.”
- Steve Jobs

Creating partnerships both within and outside your industry is the key to creating a growth strategy that will greatly impact your bottom line and create a company culture driven by trust and collaboration.

In the last few decades, we have seen a large corporate shift from an individualistic focus on economy to a more collaborative approach that emphasizes shared vision. Organizations are beginning to coordinate efforts to exchange ideas and share knowledge – driving trust and collaboration not only within their own organizations, but within the industry as a whole.

Collaboration is the key to innovating your products and services, and with the right partner(s), collaboration can bring great benefits to your company, including your products and services. Michael Schrage in Shared Minds (1990), defines collaboration as follows:

"Collaboration creates a shared meaning about a process, a product or an effect ... The true medium of collaboration is other people. Real innovation comes from this social matrix."

Innovation today comes from shared thinking and shared expertise – believing in the idea that you shouldn’t solve problems or come to conclusions on your own, rather they come from a group of individuals working towards a shared vision.

Not only does collaboration and partnership inspire innovation – but it also allows organizations to create meaningful relationships with their peers. These relationships need to be based on mutual trust and respect as each partner will be sharing their own strengths, industry contacts and ideas (potentially ones that haven’t yet been shared with the public). Without this trust and mutual respect in each other, the partnership will not succeed.

The key to success is making sure you understand the what, how and why of the partnerships you are considering. Not all organizational interactions benefit from or require a partner, and sometimes it is best to keep certain business activities internal. If you can determine what a partnership is required for, how you think it will bring more growth to your organization, or why you think a specific organization will want to partner with you – then you should be well on your way to creating a partnership that will be effective, productive and valuable.

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Giesecke, Joan, "The Value of Partnerships: Building New Partnerships for Success" (2012). Faculty Publications, UNL Libraries. 294.