Why Sharing Is the New Normal for Business (edited for a general audience)

In just the past few years, collaboration has evolved from a competitive advantage to a necessity.
We consumers are demanding more certainty when we buy something. Social media-driven technology, combined with increased expectations about certainty, has begun to monetize trust.

Tying these two thoughts together, your ability to collaborate affects how much others trust you. Your “trust rating” will become a new form of currency in the collaborative world of the future, because trust impacts your access to opportunities and revenue.

If you don’t believe this, consider where business is trending.

Leaders used to sell a strategy to team members and control things. Now, leadership is about creating channels for collaboration to happen. For example, Generation Y is the first generation to grow up sharing music files, video games and knowledge; their mindset is “we” instead of “me.” This shift in mindset is well portrayed by how our relationship with automobiles has evolved in just the last decade: car ownership to car sharing to ride sharing to person-to-person car rental.

Also take note of the dramatic emergence of peer networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Skype.

The fact is, a certain kind of sharing is in the self interest of business. Toyota, for example, trains its auto-parts suppliers to perform better even though the suppliers also will perform better for Toyota’s competitors. IBM makes much of its code and patents “open source” for anyone to use. And Eli Lilly shares its solutions to common pharmaceutical problems.

In the architecture, engineering and contracting (AEC) world, the three disciplines work within their own trade organizations, but rarely have the opportunity to gather everyone into one room to talk about the future of the commercial construction industry. That changed in Texas recently when my company, Cima Strategic, helped create channels to foster CollaborAction between AEC professionals who have to work together. In the commercial construction industry, we needed to figure out what collaboration looked like. This required leadership to create a codified body of knowledge, a way of behaving to help deliver projects better.

Everyone agrees it takes more to compete and win in business today than a few years ago. Competition used to be you and your idea against the other person and their idea. That’s not good enough anymore. Now, you must combine your idea with the ideas of others to beat competitors and their ideas. That collaboration between team members in different parts of your organization as well as peer organizations is now a necessity.

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