Collaborative leverage is a concept developed by Collaborative Strategies, Inc. which talks about optimum performance in a process that utilises some aspect of collaboration. It is the ability to apply the right technology to the right process at the right time with the right people. Below are the six areas we found in any size and type of company that have collaborative leverage. I have included the department, an example of where and how it can be used and what the benefit may be.
Some examples of leverage:
- Sales & marketing (proposal development) – benefit: win more proposals, increase revenues
- Customer service/support (exception handling) – benefit – getting better answers for complex questions more quickly – more happy customers
- R&D (new product development) – benefit – cutting the time to get a new product to market, resulting in more new revenues
- Value network management/relationships with external organizations, DPM, and project management (exception handling) – benefit – partnering with both customers and suppliers – more happy customers, better relationships with suppliers (resulting in better prices, more on time delivery, etc.)
- Training (internal and external) – benefit – better alignment by everyone in the company around the brand, the message, and service
- Decision support/crisis management – benefit – ability to quickly harness the needed expertise and create a (tiger) team to deal with the issue correctly and swiftly. Result is less bad PR, regaining the trust of customers, avoiding law suits.
What is the value of collaboration?
For the last 20 years I have been asked the question, what is the value of collaboration? By that most people mean, what is the ROI for collaboration. Although I have developed various metrics and assessments around collaboration for a number of organisations, it is still a question that is hard to answer… mostly because it is the wrong question to ask!
Collaboration is not like a slot machine, where you put X coins in, and you get Y coins out. It is much more complex than that. It often comes down to what degree of value do you want to assign to collaboration based on some outcome? That can be rather arbitrary, and so lead me back to looking at collaborative value, which is really the right question.
But collaborative value has to be taken in context, and the best context for collaboration is how it contributes to the desired outcome of a specific process. People see the value of collaboration when it is part of a process, and are willing to pay for a solution. They are not willing to pay for general collaboration where there is no clear ROI, and some primary research we have done with various vendors shows that a solution (collaborative) that solves a specific pain point, and is a clear part of a process can command 10X the price of a general collaboration solution.
Closer Look at the Examples
Sales & Marketing: What are some sales processes that require collaboration and what are the problems arising from inadequate collaboration?
- Proposal development – finding the right expertise and coordinating the production of the proposal so that the quality is good and it is delivered to the prospect on time.
The team needs a unified, single location for documents, discussions, data, and analysis that provides the necessary context for achieving desired outcomes. If discussion widgets and functionality are detached from file sharing, timelines, calendars, business users are forced to switch context between applications… which is never a good thing. Every time you require a context switch there is a chance of losing 50% of your users, thus nullifying any increase in productivity. It is important to keep the context within one process and hopefully one tool to get optimum productivity.
- Marketing – marketing is about getting the message out, but not any message, the right message, with the goal of increasing leads and ultimately sales. There are many collaborative processes in marketing (working together on a new demand generation campaign, analysing social media results, determining product marketing strategies, interactions of the product manager with customers, press and analysts, etc.)
Demand generation – Coordinating various forms of outreach to customers and prospects requires collaboration. Not only does the copy need to be created, commented on, discussed and approved, but the mechanisms for delivery of that content and to what target audience also need a consensus before the process even starts.
“Collaborative Leverage” is a powerful concept, but to derive its benefits it requires a shift in your mental model, from one of general collaboration to process-specific collaboration. Once you make this shift, then “Collaborative Leverage” is not enough to get you the results you desire (generally: Attention, Adoption, and Revenues), you also have to find the right pain point in the right industry for this concept to be applied. We have worked with a variety of clients to make a “matrix” of candidate industries and processes before we decide on the target market and the benefits statements.