The speed of change, competition and customer demand for broader range of services and products are transforming construction and creating the need for those in it to work collaboratively together, simply in order to succeed.
For any forward-looking company focused on unlocking its full growth potential, it’s clear that in today’s increasingly competitive and fast-moving environment the end-customers’ needs have to be placed firmly at the heart of all strategic decision-making and developments. However, what modern company’s in the construction sector want from manufacturers, suppliers and consultants has fundamentally changed in recent years.
Traditional buying journeys and expectations are fast becoming obsolete. Customers are now more proactive, choosing to self-educate on products and services rather than be spoon-fed information through advertising and the manufacturers sales reps.
Also, however hard they might try, the chances of any individual company being able to provide the full scope of customers’ needs in any given area is becoming ever more difficult.
There is a solution; and that’s to start building collaborative partnerships. This isn’t a process that happens by accident and any organisation who is serious about wanting to enter into successful collaboration with another company, needs to be prepared to undertake a great deal of research, planning and investment.
Companies that are achieving success with collaboration have done so because they have entered into the arrangement with open minds and a willingness to learn. They realise too that a key part of overcoming current challenges is by working with others, often in unexpected ways. This is because they understand that to meet the needs of fast-paced marketplaces requires mutually beneficial partnerships to leverage creativity, experience and resources, with right and left-brain thinkers, that can help arrive at a solution or a new idea in less time.
By looking for partnerships and collaborating externally, companies are discovering that they are able to innovate much more quickly and even create new business by coming up with solutions to problems that may not be prevalent issues yet.
Opening the door to collaboration
Collaboration opens the door for more to enter. Inviting collaboration starts with the basics, discovering who may be a good partner, what gap they fill and then building a relationship with them.
Collaboration is a partnership, not a supplier–buyer relationship
This is where many collaborations fail. Companies misunderstand what collaboration truly means and see it as a buyer–seller relationship, rather than a relationship that is mutually beneficial to each partner. The main point being, is that there should not be an overdominant partner, for it to work, it means that all have to participate in the initiative.
Taking the time to listen (and hear) everyone’s interests and objectives is key for ongoing collaborative success. Listening carefully to each collaboration partner ensures good lines of trust and communication. It helps find the strengths and weaknesses of each party and helps create a union that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. This type of two-way dialogue helps identify what needs to be done and makes for richer results.
The automotive collaboration model
To see collaboration in action, you only have to look at other industries, such as automotive as to the modern model of collaboration. The Daimler-Benz Mercedes B-Class EV uses Tesla technology. The electric motor, batteries, charger, and supporting EV systems in the compact car are all made by Tesla. Daimler also partner with Renault and the new Smart ‘fortwo’ and ‘forfour’ and Renault Twingo were all co-developed, with the cars sharing about 70 percent of their parts. Then there is Daimler’spartnership with Nissan that allows the two companies to produce up to 250,000 engines a year to be used in a number of Mercedes and Infiniti vehicles.
Daimler are so committed to collaboration they have also joined forces with BMW, General Motors and Chrysler to develop a hybrid drive-train together.
A new way of thinking
Collaboration requires much more openness, partnering and knowledge-sharing among companies. Past competitors, partners, suppliers and customers need to now work together in the new world and build a connected and integrated offering. Collaboration means opening up and sharing information in a secure way, all the way down to intellectual property.
So, by design this means that going forward collaboration challenges will be much broader. Not only because of the market, but also because of individual organisations own specific values and personality as well as the many smart products and devices which connect and integrate into eachcompany’s own network.
There is no doubt that collaboration is complex, but the good part is that it can provide brilliantopportunities because as Henry Ford once stated; “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”