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Mission Tenants: The missing link in collaboration success

My colleague (and new GovLoop friend) Andrew posted a bang-up deck on measurement earlier today.

I love metrics and poring over data, so I refer you to it. Good stuff. Already, organizations that are focused, proactive and disciplined about measurement are seeing good results.

For example, last week, my nGenera colleague Laura Carillo presented at our members meeting the results of her private sector research on “the ROI of collaboration” which highlighted these outcomes, to date, by example:

– SeaWorld –Spent $44,000, Generated $2.6M!!
– Intrawest –Saved $500,000 on a $2M project
– TransUnion –Spent $50,000, Saved $2.5M!
– Best Buy –Decreased voluntary turnover by 90%
– Bell Canada –25% of sales revenue
– Threadless –Margins above 30%, No sales force!

But, the thing that Laura would tell you and that Andrew highlights – although in different language and perhaps with a little less volume than I am – is the absolutely essential nature of identification and alignment around what we call “collaborative intents,” which appears roughly equivalent to what Andrew identifies as “mission tenants.”

This is the missing link to success. As the phrase implies, “collaborative intents” specifically addresses the issue “what am I intending to do?” with and through collaboration. Unfortunately, the most common error is not (a) identifying as precisely as possible the collaborative intents and then (b) aligning and committing the team around them.

It turns out that – when you interview and survey the principals in lots of enterprises and review the case write-ups of many successful and failed collaborative initiatives – the list of collaborative intents boils down to a handful.

Here are a few examples (we’ve identified about a dozen in total so far):

1. “Connecting previously unrelated ideas” – with the target outcome(s) being: consistent and effective innovation, amplified knowledge, capability, creativity.

2. “Coordinating in time and space” – with the target outcome(s) being: individual and group productivity, employee engagement, flexible and asynchronous work arrangements

3. “Distributing work, cost, or risk” – with the target outcome(s) being: specialization and cost reduction, process performance

You can read more about what another of my colleagues, Tammy Erickson, who was the chief architect of the collaborative intents research, wrote about the subject a little earlier this summer on the Wikinomics blog.

Happy collaborating!

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Thanks for the mention, Steve, and for building up the conversation with this post.

As we move into 2010, I think this is exactly where the entire conversation around social media/collaborative technology will turn: how do we think through our mission tenants/collaborative intents FIRST, set up outcomes and goals, then regularly measure against those desired outcomes and adapt the plan. Kim Patrick Kobza of Neighborhood America has posted around this issue a couple times on GovLoop and I really appreciate his insight:

Gov 2.0 Glitz and Gab – Right Track or Wrong Track

Social Media – Call It What You Will: Labels, Language and the Need for a Compelling Vision

My response to your thoughts: Social media will become more and more an integrated part of agency mission tenants / mission achievement strategies – or what you call “collaborative intents.” Those three you mention really capture the vast majority of projects in agencies. Answering “what is the business case?” will be paramount and essential to both enterprise-level and external-facing efforts to more effectively gain the insight of all key stakeholders to better serve citizens. Many agencies have started there…but others are doing it less intentionally (which is why I like your use of the word “intent” – this stuff takes effort and hard work on the front end…it doesn’t/shouldn’t just happen!).

We hope that we provided a road map with the presentation you cite, providing some questions that agencies can walk through to navigate the path to success – and, most importantly, to know when success is reached (or not), make adjustments in the tactical maneuvers, as necessary, and keep advancing through an iterative process…never complete, constantly innovating.

As an aside, I have admired Tammy Erickson’s work from afar…especially her insights on generational diversity and the impact of four generations on our workforce. In fact, I built an entire presentation around her article on the four most common conflicts among generations. Ultimately, that’s I where found my entry point with social media, wondering how the next generation will drive this adoption of collaborative technology as they naturally use it in their day-to-day lives…but that’s another topic we’re exploring here on GovLoop. It would be excellent to have Tammy’s insight there…or even to have her host a focused conversation with GovLoop members.

Gerry La Londe-Berg

When it comes to a discussion of collaboration it is critical to first think about values, then process, then tools. The person I admire the most when it comes to collaboration is Sid Gardner.


Sid has spoken for many years about how we serve people by understanding our processes. He and his wife, Nancy Young, focus on children, substance abuse and community.

Google “Sid Gardner collaboration” and look at a few of the power points that have been posted. The concepts and the process aren’t unique to human services or non-profits.

My primary goal here is to link the best of what human services and government can do to the evolving tools that will help us be successful.

p.s. – This post will put me over 1,000 on GovLoop… I appreciate the elegance of posting about collaboration while meeting a milestone. I am achieving my goals of learning and connecting with others who are committed to service.

Steve Guengerich

congrats on 1K Gerry – that’s a real milestone!
thanks for your referral to Sid and your point of view.
cheers – sg