Collaboration Creates Intangible Advantages

by Jay Deragon on 03/13/2013


Would you collaborate with a competitor?  Most won’t.

Most organizations would think that collaborating with competitors would not be to their competitive advantage. Stuck in old school thinking most business leaders think that competitors are the enemy trying to take dollars out of your pocket.

The new way of thinking suggests that if we share what we’ve learned together we get smarter. Getting smarter means we find new ways to create value that creates more than dollars.

Value Beyond the Dollars

Most businesses believe that the measure of success is the end game, dollars in profit and shareholder equity. But in the Social Era the formula for success is more about value created more than dollars counted. It is a reversal in thinking about business.

Value for employees is more than pay. Value for customers is more than price. Value for suppliers is more than short term revenue. Value in the Social Era is tied to the intangibles more than the tangibles.  To achieve tangible result we must learn to collaborate around the intangible values.

Robert Thomas states in his article “Collaboration as an Intangible Asset” in HBR:  Most intangible assets are real but invisible, and the most important invisible ability is the ability (or, perhaps better said, the probability) to collaborate. After all, it’s the willingness on the part of people to work together to solve problems when they could just as easily pass them along to someone else that forms the core of most things we call collaboration. It’s the decision that someone makes to share an idea or to spend the extra hour helping out — not the regulation or contract that requires it — that usually means the difference between “good enough” and “outstanding.”

So, the question is: What are the most critical intangible assets in your company? What are you doing to cultivate them? Who is responsible for managing the invisible that creates the intangibles?

Stop Wondering and Engage

If you are wondering why social technology is revolutionizing industries, politics, society and our individual lives the primary reason is mass collaboration. People sharing ideas, providing answers to strangers looking for solutions, everyone’s learning in the cloud and it is the learning that creates innovation.

Collaboration is about learning together. Learning together produces innovation. Innovation is the intangible that creates tangibles results beyond your imagination.

What is that worth? More value than the dollars created from innovation.

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