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Authenticity Creates Trust; Trust Accelerates Collaboration

Collaboration is indeed the business opportunity of the decade, promising to energize your organization while making more effective use of your precious assets.  My Cisco colleague Carl Wiese and I wrote a book called The Collaboration Imperative: Executive Strategies for Unlocking Your Organization’s True Potential to help organizations “operationalize” collaboration and capture these gains. Our goal wasn’t to write a “theory” book, but rather one that drills down into specific actions, with concrete examples of how to put collaboration to work in the real world.

As Carl noted in a previous post, effective collaboration is a function of aligning culture, process and technology.  But how do you do that?   Here is a one example from the book: Collaborative teams work best when they’re made up of people who communicate openly.

Collaboration technologies, especially video, make it easy to reach people across an organization and around the world.  Anyone who has traded their economy-class airline seat in favor of a Telepresence meeting knows the powerful benefits of collapsing space and time with an engaging video meeting.  However, as we cross departmental, cultural and time-zone boundaries, collaboration puts our personal communication skills to the test.

As we increasingly interact virtually, we work more and more with people we don’t know or have a long history with; they may actually work in a different company and teams may come and go in rapid succession.  Establishing rapport –- quickly –- is one of the most important aspects of successful collaboration, and it starts with communicating authentically.

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What Does the New Collaboration Experience Mean to You?

For me, collaboration in business is about people working together across functions and disciplines from the C-Level suite all the way down to the mail room. It’s about the experience. When people get intellectually and emotionally involved with others through collaboration, it’s that set of experiences, thoughts, and feelings that bond them together in a common cause.

More businesses are recognizing that critical relationships with both their internal constituents and external stakeholders—employees, partners, investors, media, and customers—are about the collection of experiences and touch points those audience members and key collaborators have with their organization. So, if collaborative relationships are a continuum of experiences, then it follows that businesses should optimize those experiences for maximum impact. To learn more about how the customer care industry evolved to focus on “the complete experience,” click here.

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The Olympics as a B2B Marketing Proposition

The essence of sponsorship is the right of association, as enshrined in the International Chamber of Commerce’s definition:

‘Any communication by which a sponsor, for the mutual benefit of sponsor and sponsored party, contractually provides financing or other support in order to establish a positive association between the sponsor’s image, brands, products or services and a sponsored event, activity, organization or individual.’

The difference between the Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major sporting events is that they are the only property that offers sponsors virtually nothing but the right of association.  Unlike other platforms, which will build in assets and benefits to their sponsorship package like perimeter board branding or event tickets, the only direct benefit you get from investing in a Games sponsorship is the right to use certain logos and marks.  Even then, these must be approved on a case by case basis. Everything else, including hospitality tickets, comes at an incremental price.

So Games sponsors cannot rely on a nice big advertising value equivalent from broadcast brand visibility to justify the fee internally.  They are forced to be much more disciplined in their assessment of how a Games sponsorship will create an acceptable return on investment. These sponsors must focus on who their target audience/s are, why partnering with the Games is relevant to them, how they are going to communicate those messages effectively and what is the desired behavioural outcome.

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Who wins when the Games go digital?

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are widely predicted to rapidly increase the adoption of digital services. It is set to be the most connected Games of all time, with record-breaking volumes of digital content being created, broadcast, and then shared via all kinds of networks and media.

The BBC alone will deliver 2,000 hours of live sport and create the equivalent of six months’ worth of coverage for its on-demand iPlayer service. One billion smart devices are expected to connect to the action and, with most people now having camera phones, the volumes of data they will generate is unprecedented. Attendees will engage with the Games in new ways, and people will be able to watch them on the greatest ever choice of channels and devices.

So who are the winners? Spectators will have an amazing time, and be able to share the experience with their friends. At work, there’s likely to be a lot of catching up with the action on PCs and smartphones, while businesses near the venues are sure to prosper. For content providers, it’s a chance to drive innovation by packaging content in new ways, and all the service providers will be delivering unprecedented network performance. Read More »

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Collaboration: On the Field & In the Office

Collaboration is great. But it’s not a Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, if-you-build-it-they-will-come Field of Dreams scenario. Alas, if all it took was plowing under a corn field and putting down some chalk stripes, I might be out of a job. And out of corn flakes.

We talk a lot about technology and process, but sometimes omit the human aspect. All the technology in the world won’t do much without people using it — unless you’re watching the Terminator machines attempt their takeover. And then there’s always HAL 9000. But those guys are a lot more interested in domination than collaboration anyway.

An organization’s culture is a critical component to successful collaboration. Make all the technology announcements and managerial pronouncements you want – you need an environment that supports collaboration. Read More »

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