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Bruce Holland

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A Sector-wide Case Study on Collaboration

When it comes to collaboration, some managers say, "It's just not human nature. We were born to compete. There is nothing you can do about it. You'll never get people to collaborate." This is simply not true.

I've helped many organisations develop collaboration. It's based on connectivity, places, both physical and virtual, where staff can connect with each other and with customers, suppliers and other external organisations. Instead of silos and walls we get openness and communication.

Walk into a collaborative organisation and you walk into an open, busy, highly energetic space where creativity and fun abound. Immediately, you pick up the energy and start to operate in the same way.

I have also worked at the Sector level to bring about collaboration. I'd like to share an example that made New Zealand safer.

The project

The Project became known as the CIMS Project (Coordinated Incident Management System).

Rural Fire employed me to help get collaboration between all the agencies involved in managing emergencies. This included Police, Fire Service, Rural Fire, Ambulance, Department of Conservation, Defense and Civil Defense.

So what did we do?

The Project started when Murray Dudfield, the National Rural Fire Officer, took responsibility and sponsored the Project.

Murray is a special type of manager who thinks achieving results is more important than getting the credit. This takes a certain bigness that's a vital element in establishing collaboration. I would not start a project on collaboration with an egotistical sponsor.

Next we gathered senior people from each of the Agencies. They sat in a large circle without any tables. Each discussed the Mission Statement for their organisation. They were amazed to find how similar they were. They were all in the "protection business." For example, the Deputy Commissioner of Police talked about "protecting communities from crime" and the Fire Service talked about "protecting people and property from fire."

Then they talked about their values. Again, they were surprised at the similarities. They all talked about teamwork, loyalty, efficiency and following procedures. As a strategist this was no surprise to me because all these organisations had the same Value Proposition of Operational Excellence.

By this stage everyone was feeling comfortable with each other. They were relaxed and had opened their minds and their hearts. They quickly agreed to form a Project Team to work out how they could work together better.

At this point it was no longer Murray's project. It certainly wasn't Bruce's project. It was a collaborative project. It changed New Zealand.

The results

As a result of the CIMS Project all these agencies now have a common approach, vocabulary and operating model for working together in an emergency.

CIMS changed the way all the agencies work together to protect us. It has made New Zealand safer.

Please give me a call if you'd like your people to collaborate better; or if you'd just like to know more.

In the meantime, think BIG,

Bruce Holland

Virtual Group Business Consultants

Phone +6421620456 or Skype Bruce.Holland
Bruce helps large mature organisations be more focused, fast and flexible. Places where people have more depth, connection and meaning. "Liberating the Human spirit at work." He is one of New Zealand's most experienced change agents and is the founder of Virtual Group Business Consultants Limited.

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