Recently I was asked to comment on the following statement:
“Only if I Win” Collaboration – In today’s environment, when credit unions get together to collaborate it isn’t for the good of the industry in all cases, it is what is good for their situation, their credit union. Even the largest CUSOs are focused on bottom line versus member advantage or value. Everybody wants to be the dominant player versus a collaborator.
My initial reaction within about 120 seconds…
Stop whining…collaboration is a business, not a social mission. (By the way, even the best committees for the sake of mission still have internal power struggles.) Now, the best businesses have a sense of win-win architecture, whether sole proprietors, limited partnerships, or even cooperatives. If we would teach and talk more about the business designs of cooperatives we might be better operators and collaborators. How do we all improve our skills as cooperative entrepreneurs, so that we can get better at competing as collaborative alliances in a networked world? Could we? And if we did, would we know how to match up for wins?
After a few more moments of reflection…
While I am still annoyed by the lack of respect and underestimating the influence of “self-interest” in the above statement, here are my rules for how to find the best collaborators, and not just alliance partners.
- Start with a riddle that no one in the room has solved independently…something new to do.
- No attorneys…attorneys are designed to assume conflicts and architect solutions based on winners and losers.
- No accountants…accountants look for ROI for the individuals in the room, and if there are more than one accountant in the room then we will need an attorney.
- Look for partners who believe they have excess capacity with zero marginal costs…they’ll contribute to solving the riddle, not want to be paid to solve the riddle. Assets flow to the problem instead of having to be paid to engage.
- Look for partners who understand disruption on three levels:
- The value of disruptive price
- The value of creating access for the participants
- The value of creating shared execution
- Find people who love riddles and the achievement in solving them as the ROI.
- Donate the solution roadmap to the open marketplace.
- Bring in the accountants and lawyers and start a company or an active alliance with expectations many others will also use the roadmap. Create competition.
Last thing, realize that collaborations that result in big wins are rare and hard work. Don’t whine, and get started!
Now take the test. If you believe you cannot abide by these 8 rules then you are probably not a good candidate for win-win collaborations. Move on, and do it alone.