Unlocking Collaborative Working: Part 1

This article – split here into Part 1 and Part 2 – originally appeared in the May 2019 edition of The Partner (pp88-89).

It demonstrates how to ground high-level Things That Matter through measurable, actionable Value Codes – an early example of the Three Steps to Value.

The article remains fully relevant both to the specific Collaborative Working domain and as a general example of what is needed in all domains.

Unlocking the Value of Collaborative Working with ISO 44000

Today’s business environment is uncertain, volatile and ambiguous – induced by complexity and amplified by technology. Collaborative working has never been more important. ISO 44000 is the foundation for unlocking its value.

The value in collaborative working

The pace of change is accelerating, the challenges organisations face are more numerous and more complex – all amplified by technology. Familiar ways of working are less and less effective.

As a result, clarity on core principles, what they mean in practice, and how they lead to value being realised is essential for agility and effectiveness within, and especially between, organisations.

ICW Members intuitively know the value of collaborative working in achieving the alignment, resilience and coherence demanded by complex environments. To a significant extent, organisations certified to the ISO 44001 Standard have spread, scaled and embedded collaborative working best practice, and are enjoying the resulting benefits.

But, even then, it can still be difficult to specifically identify, explain and demonstrate its value to colleagues, partners and the wider supply chain.

The key to unlocking that value is to identify and clarify the things that matter (and why they matter) when it comes to collaborative working and to then relentlessly focus on and pursue them.

ISO 44000 Principles

This is the context into which ISO 44000: Principles for effective adoption and implementation of ISO 44001 are being launched, and it couldn’t have come at a better time to help begin this process.

A principles-led approach is a necessary foundation for more reliable and effective individual and organisational ‘discernment’ – the ability to sort the wheat from the chaff, and know what to do with it.

For collaborative working, specifically, it will enable the agenda to expand from capability building and compliance to spreading, scaling and embedding competence and result-producing performance.

Capturing the spirit of the Standard, the ISO 44000 authors (the technical committee, chaired by David Hawkins), have clearly articulated 12 of the key ‘things that matter’ in collaborative working and should be commended for making them relatable and approachable for any individual or organisation.

As well as introducing the concepts and detail of the Standard, the 12 broad principles provide a framework around which to develop and maintain shared agendas for pursuing collaborative working toward its desired goals, and to encapsulate reusable bodies of knowledge and experiences.

Yet even the best sets of high level principles need to be “translated” down to specifics to be measurable, and to not end up meaning different things to different people in practice.

In the “space” between the Principles and the exhaustive 103 auditable clauses of the Standard is the value of collaborative working that more organisations so desperately need to unlock.

This is pragmatically addressed with Value Codes: measurable outcomes for the ‘things that matter’ that ground them and account for their value.

Part 2 goes on to explain how this works.