Collaboration Strategy

Implementation of strategy has become a pervasive problem in recent years with many companies struggling to motivate their employees, suppliers and business partners to deliver on value-creating strategies. This research investigated why that is and how a different approach to contracting for the work needed to implement strategy might help companies do a better job. Nearly two hundred in-person interviews were carried out in North America and Western Europe with senior managers in large companies, private equity firms and government agencies.

Underlying the increasing difficulties in strategic implementation are two sea changes in the world of work. Firstly, business value-added is no longer about routine production and distribution. These activities are rapidly being automated or outsourced and value-added is shifting to design, development, marketing, sales and large one-off projects. As it does so, it is becoming difficult either to fully specify what needs to be done in advance or to direct and control the work as it progresses. But these are the requirements to be able to set up a robust contract to get what you want from a supplier or to successfully motivate employees in a company hierarchy.

Secondly, to coordinate all the economic actors in a highly specialized global economy, information and communication platforms are becoming increasingly important. But you want to inform and communicate with as many people as possible, so the leading platforms have strong advantages and platform providers tend to become monopolists/oligopolists. 

To get what they want in this new environment, companies are moving away from traditional relationships with suppliers and employees and instead contracting to work with business partners with whom they share entrepreneurial responsibilities and rewards. Alliances, franchising, open source licensing, joint businesses, production sharing contracts, consortium joint-ventures, risk and revenue sharing partnerships, corporate venture funds, local asset backed vehicles and other novel forms of collaboration are all playing an increasing role in the economy. 

Based on our research, we have proposed a set of ten requirements that you must meet to get what you want done in any environment and developed a toolkit of tactics for setting up collaboration in a way tailor made to improve your chances of success when the going gets tough.

Findings from this research are outlined in Collaboration Strategy: How to Get What You Want from Employees, Suppliers and Business Partners, published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2014 and a number of articles, including Sharing Business Ownership to Execute Your Strategy in the November/December 2015 edition of the European Business Review