Independent and proud
Editorial

Independent and proud

Collaboration can be a growth-builder, but only if there’s synergy.

Multidisciplinary teams, collaborations with experts in different fields, extending reach and awareness through partnerships with cool brands or leading industry organisations…whatever your method of choice, bringing people together – pooling skillsets and resources to work towards a common goal – is a good thing, isn’t it?

Perhaps the answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. Joining forces can, of course, help leverage growth, but it can also add complexity, introduce inefficiencies and put brand values at risk.

Your brand

If you are a small organisation, or looking after a young brand, you might not always be strong enough to partner up. The drive, experience, scale and financial power of a partner organisation might be too much for you to cope with.

If you are still forging your own identity or building a client list, it might not be the right time to start making compromises. Make no mistake that is what collaboration can mean. At worst, you might be swept along then swallowed up. Are you strong enough to be an equal? Do you even want to try?

Brand-building is about clear and focused vision, and that is often best delivered by a small team where everyone understands and believes in the same aims. You might be looking to assist brand diffusion, and end up only achieving brand dilution.

Your team

Collaboration involves extra work, extra thinking and extra resources. It will happen alongside everything else you do, not in place of it. Taking time to incorporate ideas and working practices that are different to your own, that you might not always agree with or that need to be contested, can be challenging.

How ready is your team to adapt? Has it got the resources and know-how to take new thinking on board, or to teach other people what you know? If you feel that you are already operating at capacity, it’s unlikely you can take on a collaboration without it having a negative effect on what you do during the day-to-day.

Your leadership

You also need to ask who will be responsible and accountable for the project. Why has that person been chosen, and what does it say about the nature of the partnership?

Strong leadership is necessary. If there is any doubt about who’s leading, then you’re storing up trouble. If you are the one leading, are you getting the support you need?

Finally, reconsider the real reason for the partnership. Did you ask for it? Did others come looking for it? The opportunity to form a partnership is not, in itself, a good enough reason for entering into one. You need to know exactly what it is going to deliver, why you both want it, what its boundaries are, and also when it will end.

Let’s go back to a definition:

“The interaction or cooperation of two or more organisations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

This is a definition of ‘synergy’. Synergy is what you are looking for in a partnership. Anything less and it isn’t about growth. So if you’re not sure you can achieve it, don’t invest in collaboration. Independence can be just as good a strategy.

Martin Bewick Content Lead CPL
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