If you ask people to think of the favorite thing they have ever worked on, they usually choose a collaborative project. However if you then ask people to think of their worst project they also tend to choose a collaboration as well. I’m fascinated as to why this is, and what is it about collaborations that can be both so satisfying or so frustrating.
As an open innovation agency we like to think we know a thing or two about collaboration. Almost all of the work we do is in partnership with others and so we know we are pretty good at it. However we recently learned a lot from a collaboration that we were involved with that didn’t go so well. They say you learn more from your failures rather than from your successes so thought we’d share some of those lessons here.
To cut a long story short, we became aware of a big bid for a piece of work in another country that perfectly matched our skills and experience, however we suspected our chance of getting the work was slim giving our lack of local knowledge and presence. Therefore we were pleased when we were approached by another company based in that country who, whilst they didn’t really appear to have the right skills, could provide the local insight we were missing. Below is a summary of our lessons learned.
Anyway, I’m sure there are other lessons there too but I share in the spirit of learning from what not to do. Needless to say we the relationship was tense and ultimately unsuccessful in winning the work. I must admit that it was also a huge relief not to have to unravel the increasingly dysfunctional collaboration had we actually been successful.
That said, they say hindsight is a wonderful thing, and there are a lot of things I probably would have done differently if we were to do it all again. We’ve certainly learned from the experience, and it’s been a wonderful case study in how not to collaborate. As ever, I’d be interested in your experiences and lessons learned about what makes collaboration work, or not, as the case may be.