Collaboration is not tech…

Collaboration is a term that is bandied about a lot these days but its meaning has been clouded, quite literally.

A base description of collaboration (thanks to the good folk at Wikipedia) is: Collaboration is the process of two or more people or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration is similar to cooperation.

Hop online and Google collaboration though, and once you get past the definitions, you’ll find a great many links to websites for cloud based software to enable collaboration. It seems that the process has now become a definition of a tool.

Cloud computing certainly allows better integration across sites, organisations and even countries. Here at CSC Buying Group, we are definitely enjoying its many benefits.

Software allowing multiple people to edit a document or comment on a notice board may assist with collaboration but by itself, it doesn’t create and encourage it. An organisation’s culture is what enables true collaboration. Working towards a common goal, trusting your colleagues, transparency by all parties, willingness to engage and supportive leadership will always have far more influence than software ever could.

As a leader you need to ensure that there is a common purpose and an atmosphere of trust within the group. Also provide ongoing, constructive feedback throughout the process and encourage others to do the same. Most importantly, remember to communicate, communicate, communicate.

Collaboration does not rely on software, it relies on people. Whiz-bang computer tools will assist but if you want your team to fully collaborate, it still comes down to you as a leader. Don’t get fooled by the “techies”, collaboration is a human process. It’s up to you to create the environment that will allow it to happen.

team-3373638__340First published in Cambridge Chamber of Commerce News, Summer 2018


Economic Development

If you’re on LinkedIn and connected with anyone from the Waikato, chances are you would have seen at least one post around the Waikato Regional Economic Development Agency – now called Te Waka and the summit held last week.

Far from the collection of “Hamiltoncentric” corporates I feared would make up the majority of invitees, Dallas and his team did a fantastic job ensuring a good cross section of people attended. What was even more pleasing was the almost automatic view that economic development revolves around people and our communities. It was definitely a case of ‘ensuring no one was left behind’.

On the second day we were asked to, initially by ourselves, identify some strategies for growing the Waikato economy.

With the vocal support for people and the environment, my mind instantly went to my favourite topic – using business as a resource that we can use to grow and support our both our economy and our communities.

The doing good / having a purpose appeals to Gen Y and Z, Govt is now starting to look at capacity building in the social enterprise space and the unsustainable levels of charities in New Zealand all point to the fact that the time has come to change our thinking.

Charities and social enterprise are an internal resource we can use for economic growth, and the changing view of our business leaders means that doing good is no longer just a by-product (if that).

With all of this in mind, my ideas for stimulating the local economy are:

  • Let’s fast track capability and capacity within businesses with authentic social goals.
  • Invest to move many of our multitude of charities into productive social enterprise
  •  Inform and support successful businesses to grow a new generation of Gallagher’s, Perry’s and DV Bryant

Specific action points I personally would love to see happen are:

  1. Employ champions to promote and support this plan
  2. Take the existing resources for training our business leaders and put it on steroids. CELF (Community and Enterprise Leadership Foundation) is a good example. If we subsidised the fees, access would increase – and let’s take it to the regions as well.
  3. Arrange purposeful networking -> includes business, local Govt, charities and social enterprise – we need to learn from each other. Imagine how powerful it would be for business leaders to hear the passion when social entrepreneurs share their stories. Coffee and discussing growth issues like cashflow, informal education and peer support.
  4. Coordinate and promote impact investment. Funders are there but struggle to find purposeful businesses that are investment ready.
  5. Engage mentors. Work with organisations like Business Mentors to develop and identify ideal mentors for this work. Varied skills are required including transitioning from a charity model, how to engage corporate directors on this journey, how to get investment ready, how to start up a social enterprise. We need to increase the width of mentor skills available
  6. Proactively support the establishment of capacity builders like Impact Hubs, not forgetting of course other resources like Community Waikato.

These are only quick notes but I wanted to get them down and shared. This has been my message for a while but I believe that it’s important enough to keep repeating.

Business, Cambridge, For Purpose

Leadership is an interesting concept.

So much is being written these days about what a true leader is and isn’t. How they operate and how they interact with their teams and colleagues. The focus is now on human leadership, moving people from the system constructed management of days gone by. A large part of my LinkedIn feed is articles and memes about this and bookshop shelves are full of leadership manuals. Leadership seems to be the generic topic people wish to be seen as experts on, almost leaders in the leadership space.

I’m not knocking the current thoughts and opinions, we all want strong leadership in our organisations, from governance through to the ‘coal face’. Forgetting about business for a minute, the world would be a better place if more leaders took on-board some of this advice.

The thing that strikes me is how limited a lot of this information is. It focuses on leading teams and organisations. To me, this inwards focus doesn’t show people the full potential of effective leadership.

As a true leader, you need to see your role wider than just how well your organisation operates. Your organisation, if full of leaders, should itself become a leader in its own right.

I’m not talking about leading the competition, market leaders, the leading supplier of…, I’m talking about how your organisation can show true leadership, guiding and encouraging others on the journeys that are important to you.

An easy example of what I mean is the Chamber itself. Tania and the Executive must show leadership within the organisation – but they must also show leadership in the local business community. For them, there is literally no point effectively leading their own organisation unless they are also successful in leading business prosperity in Cambridge. Their leadership skills directly benefit us.

If we look past the aspect of direct competition, we all benefit when we have strong, successful businesses (and organisations). None of us operate alone; we’re all part of this big eco-system broadly called the economy. The more successful our customers are, the more we can sell. We need our suppliers to be successful to maintain continuity of supply. Our neighbouring businesses may employ our children or solve one of our problems.

You can show leadership by talking to peer organisations, your customers and your suppliers; engaging with the people within those organisations, hearing their stories and seeing where you can journey together on more than just business matters.

Leadership involves helping others to achieve their goals, it’s about finding common passions and it’s about shared visions. This is all done between people but there is no law to say those people have to be part of the same organisation.

In business, as in life, it’s about growing the pie not just growing your piece of that pie. True leaders look for success for everyone by working together, sharing their dreams and by recognising true leadership is more than leading a single team.

It’s more than just business.

If you care about the environment, you can lead your team to manage your own recycling or you could empower them to also help guide other businesses to share your environmental passion.

If you believe businesses can help support healthy, robust communities then your whole organisation should be leading the way. Share the story and show others how you support your community, talk about the benefits and explore how you can assist them on their own journeys.

Leadership is about shared strength and if we want to live in a great world, we all need to take the responsibility for strengthen those around us. If you think you have great leadership skills, then prove it! Show the world how you can lead more than one team or one organisation. Share those skills and build those skills in others. Be proactive in your sector and your community.

True leaders are conduits for change.


For Purpose, The Zone

Measuring Impact

Trust Waikato are running a Community Impact Event – Measuring Impact presented by two international experts, Michael Weinstein and Aunnie Patton Power. Michael and Aunnie will be sharing their knowledge around effectively measuring community impact and impact investing.

WHAT – Measuring and Leveraging Impact
WHEN – 10am – 1.30pm, May 4 2018
WHERE – Brooklyn Rooms 1 and 2, Claudelands Event Centre, Corner of Brooklyn Road and Heaphy Terrace, Hamilton

Read more here