Enabling Collaboration: A book review by Bob Morris

Enabling CollaborationEnabling Collaboration: Achieving Success Through Strategic Alliances and Partnerships
Martin Echavarria
LID Publishing (2015)

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
African proverb

I agree with Martin Echavarria: “Clearly the age of global interdependence socially, economically, and environmental is here, and the opportunities it brings will profoundly change the way companies and organizations do their work. Because of today’s global complexity, we can no longer expect to form successful organizations on the backs of individuals alone but also on group collaboration. Individual leadership alone will not get us there. We must learn to grow our collaborative leadership capability, while applying ourselves individually to contribute to its emergence. It is only then through group collaboration, that we can be successful in developing organizational partnerships and alliances to meet the challenges and opportunities of today.”

In the healthiest organizations, whatever their size and nature, there are three drivers of workplace engagement: communication, cooperation, and most important of all, collaboration. The African proverb quoted earlier makes a very important point, as does my favorite passage in Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching which focuses on the leader as an enabler:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

Echavarria addresses a number of issues, subjects, and challenges of special interest to me:

o The defining characteristics of a collaborative enterprise
o The core components of the Operative Partnership Methodology (OPM)
o How to enable collaborative leadership through group coaching
o The foundations of partnership coaching
o How to frame the partnership field of relationship
o The OPM: Secret Sauce
o How to make the implicit explicit
o How to facilitate the emergence of operative partnership groups
o How to enable grow flow and reflective learning through Facilitative Leadership
o The nature and extent of five territories of alliance development

1. Align and prepare
2. Invite and commit
3. Create and consolidate
4. Negotiate and launch
5. Sustain and deepen

Leaders as enablers/facilitators must be developed at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. The nature and extent of participation in each collaborative initiative will be determined by the nature and extent of what is required to achieve it. Also, and this is a key point, in the most complicated organizations such as the Fortune 50, there will almost certainly be internal collaboration between and among individual groups.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the value of the information, insights, and counsel that Martin Echavarria provides in Enabling Collaboration. It remains for each leader who reads the book to determine what is most relevant to the needs, resources, concerns, and objectives of the given organization. With all due respect to the Operative Partnership Methodology, I presume that he agrees with me that each organization must adapt it as well as adopt it when developing internal as well as external strategic alliances and partnerships.

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