Are you connecting with the right people?

17th February 2015

In our January newsletter we introduced the concept of the 5C’s as the attributes of how leaders need to work in our fast changing world. We have chosen to explore CONNECTION first because, as I see it, a leader needs to decide WHO to involve before starting to collaborate and co-create. The best collaboration in the world isn’t going to deliver robust solutions if the right people aren’t involved.

Who are the ‘RIGHT PEOPLE’ we need to be collaborating and co-creating with?

In the olden days people worked in teams in offices, so they got together in teams, in offices to do work. Nowadays people work in matrix organisations, so they meet and collaborate across functions and organisational units. The future is about people being connected more widely, inside and outside their organisations, and therefore collaborating with the right mix of people to get the work done.

I see this playing out already. For example:

  • In companies where a piece of work will involve a cross section of employees plus interims plus consultants plus externals with the right expertise to do a great job rather than because of lines of reporting, etc.
  • Agencies combine to offer services to clients that no one agency could offer alone, which is different from subcontracting. The agencies don’t place margin on each others services. They work together on the basis that their business will thrive through the collaboration.

Connection

By connection I don’t mean just links through social media. I mean authentic connection with people to genuinely collaborate with, internally with colleagues and peers as well as expertise from outside the organisations, to bring fresh thinking and perspectives.

Over the years I have developed, and continue to develop, a network of people who share my values, whose expertise I respect, and who I enjoy working with. The benefits of this are too numerous to list but include:

  • making robust business decisions
  • being able to call upon specialist expertise
  • continually learning and broadening my business view.

I fundamentally believe that this networked way of working is here to stay and provides the means to work in the complex world we work in.

Four keys to authentic business connection:

  1. A big driver in connection, for me, is a desire to help people. If I can connect two people with a common interest or someone who can help another, why wouldn’t I do this? It brings me great satisfaction when this works. However, I don’t take offence when people don’t follow up with connections I make. I can’t be responsible for everyone else!
  2. I only recommend people I really rate! This usually means I have had personal experience of working with them or they come highly rated by someone I respect. I’ve learnt the hard way that what people say of themselves and the reality of their work can differ: some people under estimate themselves and others make promises they can’t keep. The experience of actually working with someone is way better than just talking about it.
  3. When someone I respect connects me with someone I make time to follow up even if the connection isn’t obvious to me. I trust the other person’s instinct. This means I have a few wasted calls a year but mostly I am rewarded with interesting new people.
  4. Expanding my network through the network I have had for years served me well but it didn’t happen by osmosis. I like people to know that I am open to new connections. And, if I am looking for particular expertise or information I ask my network for input.

I can’t see how anyone can operate in today’s business world in isolation. I enjoy and get huge benefits from working with the people in my network: clients, suppliers, colleagues. Once we have authentic connections we have the platform for collaboration and co-creation.

To help visualise this connected world take a look at this article in the Harvard Business Review, The Rise of Social Graphs for Businesses by Sangeet Paul Choudary (February 2, 2015).

We support leadership in maximising their connected networks to achieve collaboration and co-creation. Call us at +44 (0) 1628 471 114 or complete our contact form.