Today, modern companies face issues that a few years ago were not part of the daily agenda. Behaviors and attitudes about work, and with work, are changing. Companies are now recognizing that things that once worked don’t seem to work any longer. Acknowledging that new issues like poor employee engagement and failing to align internally siloed teams is fundamental to initiate a change in the company’s strategic plan.
As new issues arise, new ideas, tools and solutions thrive around the world. One of the newest techniques to tackle complex collaboration issues is the so-called “Collective Impact” solution. Though its primary purpose is social reform, this innovative approach can help businesses to coordinate work across teams and to achieve significant and lasting change. The approach calls for multiple teams to work in favour of five components: a common agenda, shared measurement, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and the support of a “backbone” organization.
Let’s explore a little more in detail each one of these components:
1. A Common Agenda
According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, this means that every participant must have a shared vision for change, including a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving it through agreed upon actions. Two elements are fundamental in terms of driving a common agenda. First, you have to have an agenda and it must keep all parties moving towards the same goal. Second, you must be able to effectively communicate your agenda to your employees in an engaging way letting them see how their daily work contributes to the bigger picture.
2. Shared Measurement
It is very important to be able to collect and share data and results consistently across all participants. Having a common set of key indicators and metrics and share them across the organization enhances a common understanding of the goal and helps teams to be aligned and hold each other accountable. Some examples of these metrics are target profits, sales by region, and customer satisfaction and retention. Make sure your indicators are aligned with the previously defined common agenda.
3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities
Collaboration for impact states that the power of collective action comes not from the sheer number of participants or the uniformity of their efforts, but from the coordination of their differentiated activities through a mutually reinforcing plan for action. Once a comprehensive agenda and a set of indicators has been established, then mutually reinforcing activities become very clear and the whole team can focus on mutual support. Different siloed teams can ask themselves questions like: how is my work impacting the common agenda? or how does my work influence, reinforce or build synergy with the work of my partners and vice versa?
4. Continuous Communication
It is fundamental to have a strong internal communication strategy that constantly helps sharing key messages to the team. Communication must be consistent and open across the whole team; this will help build trust, assure mutual objectives, and create common motivation. Effective and continuous internal communication is fundamental whether your company belongs to the manufacturing, logistics, retail or the hospitality sector.
5. Support of a “Backbone” Organization
Since the Collective Impact approach was designed for social reform, this key criterion demands having an organization that serves to coordinate the efforts of the rest of the member organizations. A “backbone” organization serves the entire initiative and helps driving the other four components of the model leading the collective efforts towards the common agenda. According to Forbes, in the for-profit world, the “backbone” tends to be the senior leaders, or champions, of the change effort who serve in a role of coordinating the efforts of subgroups with the company.
We are aware that many organizations recognize when there is a need for change in their strategy to solve new issues. Triggering such change is not an easy task but with innovative tools like the Collective Impact approach and with a solid communication platform like Beekeeper, companies can design new strategies to adapt themselves in a constantly changing 21st century environment.