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Collaborative Insight January 2016 - ISSUE 38

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Discussion Corner - Cultures and Behaviours

It is frequently said that “companies make contracts and people make business”. In terms of effective collaboration there is a clear need to align both. In today’s world of technology, what we are using today is already out of date and there is an ever increasing trend to manage or replace the human interfaces with technology. There is no doubt that technology facilitates greater connectivity across an ever widening and diverse market place whether selling or buying. However it is dangerous to ignore the human factor.

In developing the CRAFT methodology and its migration into a standard for collaboration, one of the aims was to establish a common language that would enable better engagement to help drive the value of relationships. But a process on its own is only part of the solution, and whilst all the elements of BS11000 were incorporated because of their impact on the way people interact, we must still consider implications of organisational culture and behaviours where it would be fair to say technology is only facilitation tool.

The question that gets asked is whether it’s the culture of an organisation that drives the behaviours of its people or whether it’s their behaviours that create the culture. In truth these are indivisible, which is why technology will never be a sole solution as it would be difficult to imagine building a relationship with machine, though I guess smart minds are trying to address this conundrum and others are giving grave warnings against this.

In researching how to best identify the right people to work in a collaborative environment, which can be challenging, the complexity of this dilemma becomes very apparent. From the early works of Jung there have been many different approaches proffered to identify personality traits but even these have to acknowledge a balance between nature and nurture.

So pre-empting an individual joining an organisation a multiplicity of factors have already shaped their profile. Their aptitude and attitude towards collaborative working will have been burnished through previous experiences and external influences such as nationality, religion and politics to name a few. As such they bring a micro culture. If we then look to the broader picture of the corporate culture within which they will operate, which is formed by its style of leadership and management, stakeholders and external influences such as customers, suppliers, regulation, national legislation and the like we see grater complexity.

Those who have been involved with international business have always been aware of cultural differences. But do we apply the same consideration when looking to find business partners or build integrated collaborative teams from diverse organisations that have their own complex cultures and which will influence their individual and collective behaviours.

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