Key Principles of Collaboration
The Institute of Collaborative Working (ICW) has defined key principles of collaboration set against a simple framework. There are three overriding principles that draw many parallels with Key Account Management:
- Common vision and leadership
- Right behaviours and culture
- Collaborative processes and tools
Let’s work together
So, successful collaborative working is as much about the behaviours and motivations of individuals as it is about bringing groups together to achieve a common purpose. This is absolutely true of any KAM programme where collaboration is vital in areas such as relationship mapping, common goals, team performance and adding value. It is key to the successful outcome of any project, framework or strategic partnership.
Working together and staying together are important aspects of collaborative working and very much core to the eight main objectives championed by the ICW which has led to the British Standard 11000 (now ISO 44001):
Phase 1 – Strategic objectives:
- Internal Assessment
Phase 2 – Engagement objectives:
- Partner Selection
- Working together
- Value creation
Phase 3 – Management objectives:
- Staying together
- Exit Strategy
Accreditation for Collaboration
BS 11000 [now ISO 44001] reinforces what can be achieved through an accredited approach and says: “Effective collaboration will, over time, create an environment that engenders trust between organisations. This in turn will increase their ability to deliver joint efficiency improvements, challenge traditional working practices and explore new ways of working, enhance transparency and openness, strengthen their ability to challenge and innovate, understand and overlay each party’s governance and assurance processes.”
Collaboration as a factor in successful tendering
Recent procurement by a number of major national infrastructure organisations identified and sought to include collaboration as a new mandate. This required suppliers, consultants and delivery organisations to demonstrate their behaviours, cultures, values and how they have worked together collaboratively. This involved tenderers having to attend assessment centres where their approach to and competencies in teamwork and collaboration with other organisations were examined.
Like any commitment of this type, to be successful requires a huge commitment from the Executive level down to those involved in delivery at a project level. The appointment of a Senior Executive responsible is a key step to securing senior level sponsorship, and coupled with clear objectives that have been mutually developed, this provides an excellent platform for collaboration.
Trust is the key-stone to collaboration
The essence of all relationships is that organisations (and individuals) learn from each other, build trust and become stronger, more rounded and progressive as a result.
So, collaborating, like key account management is all about working together to achieve a better outcome than we would achieve if we worked in isolation. Breaking down barriers, working out where synergies exist, admitting weaker areas and combining strengths can deliver incredible results.
The link between good Key Account Management and Collaborative working has never been stronger and those organisations who create a collaborative culture are more likely to be successful. This includes collaborating with clients in the pursuit of highly effective account management. Without their input we are in danger of simply ‘doing’ KAM to our clients in the hope it will lead to more opportunities. Where we embrace the ethos of collaboration from the outset with all stakeholders – internal and external, we can develop long-term profitable and rewarding relationships for all involved.
Chris Founds is the Business Development Director for Capita Infrastructure.
Gary Williams is the Managing Director at Questas Consulting Ltd, which provides Key Client Management and Client Account Planning training to professional and engineering firms.