The A14 Integrated Delivery Team has been recognised for its successes in collaborative working ©James Walker/Highways England
The A14 Integrated Delivery Team has been recognised for its successes in collaborative working ©James Walker/Highways England

Golden rules for collaboration

Essentials for success from non-profit the Institute for Collaborative Working (ICW)

“Change is a certainty,” says David Hawkins, ICW’s chief operating officer and knowledge architect, “and will take on an even greater pace where organisations will need increased flexibility and agility to survive and grow. In this environment, high levels of collaboration will be an increasingly valuable tool for both the private and public sector.” Here are Hawkins’ guidelines for successful collaboration: 

  1. “The objective in developing a collaborative partnership has to be focused on enhancing the overall performance, identifying the key drivers that make up this business cycle, starting to focus the organisation on the ‘total cost’ of doing business, as opposed to the price you would normally pay at, say, point of sale.”

  2. “The concept of working in an open relationship will create pressures on both sides. The principle of open-book trading is easy and most – in negotiations – would publicly endorse such a relationship. But when it comes to the crunch, few organisations have the real constitution for seeing it through. Without this kind of commitment, they are not likely to realise the real benefits.

  3. “There has to be recognition of risk and benefit on both sides.”

  4. “Both sides should understand what potential each has to offer. Risk sharing is one of the principle benefits, but in a conventional contracting approach the purchaser seldom is able to pass his total risk down the line. The more you are prepared to give, the more you are likely to gain. This is difficult to get others to understand.”

  5. “Feedback will test the validity of the potential partners’ resolve to participate proactively. This should be developed into suitable action plans to address the short, medium and long-term issues that result from the overall analysis. This process is crucial to getting in place the key issues that need to be addressed with potential partners.”

  6. “Ensure there is executive support in place on both sides and validate the approach against policies, processes and systems, which is where ISO 44001 can help. Not all relationships run smoothly all the time, so be ready to focus value through ‘constructive conflict’ and finally avoid simply ‘contracting for failure’.”
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