Organizational Math 101: Collaborate for Exponential Results

Recently, as I prepared to teach a class on management consulting, I spent a few minutes reflecting upon one of the greatest lessons I have learned, lived, and loved in my time at Clarus: the power of collaboration.

Later, I shared with the students how important it is to establish a collaborative relationship between the Consultant and the Client. We talked about placing a high-priority on collaboration throughout an engagement as an opportunity to strengthen the working relationship and ultimately enrich a project’s results. To illustrate the benefits of collaboration, I provided this example.

Early in my Clarus tenure, the firm was engaged to help a large federal agency develop a Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, as required by a Presidential Executive Order. The project was grounded in collaboration from day one, as Clarus had teamed with a global engineering consulting firm in pursuit of the project. Clarus Principal Cathy Wright and I worked closely with the engineering team to develop a project approach and identify the value all members of the Consultant team would bring. After we were awarded the project, the Consultant team warmly welcomed the Client team to the established collaboration and the work began in earnest.

At every step of the multi-month project, collaboration took place. Consultants worked closely with members of the Client’s team, who came from up, down, and across the organizational chart. Equally important, members of the Client’s team actively collaborated with one another, often having had little or no interaction before. Ideas flowed between Consultant and Client team members. Expertise and knowledge was widely and freely shared throughout the project.

The results of this effort were remarkable. The agency’s Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan was named by the Office of Management & Budget as one of the top five of all federal agencies. The agency built internal capacity for implementing and maintaining the plan. Innovative ideas were generated and operationalized. New, valuable internal relationships were established and a culture of collaboration around an important issue was introduced. And finally, our Consultant team was undeniably pleased with outcomes and proud of the Client team.

We continue to actively encourage internal and external collaboration with all of our clients. By cross-populating teams tasked with leading important organizational initiatives with stakeholders from throughout a company, you open up a whole new realm of what’s possible. By identifying and eliminating perceived barriers to collaboration, you empower your team to seek out expertise and insight that will strengthen a project and its results.

Some say: “the proof is in the pudding.” A mathematician might say: “the validity is in the proof.” Collaborate for exponential results. It’s a formula worth trying.

Intentionally encourage and facilitate internal collaboration across departments, functions, and teams. Seek opportunities for valuable external collaborations.

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