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Collaborative thinking, a business strategy

Several methodologies have been created to help us solve challenging problems in a fast and creative manner, putting at its centre the collaboration of multidisciplinary teams. Innovation is now a survival trait rather than a competitive advantage and that is how we have started to look at collaboration as a key factor to be included in business strategies. We started acquiring a different mindset, where collaboration outside of the organisation is core. It has also helped us navigate across the thoughts we expressed in our last post (Entrepreneurial lessons for the chicken and egg dilemma).

On my past jobs, before becoming an entrepreneur, competitor analysis was the starting point to develop a strategy. However, as I started studying about innovation, I realised that on the need to deliver value to a complex society, identifying companies to collaborate with is also a highly important strategic effort. Despite, the economic theory has heavily introduced competition at its core, making it hard for companies to generate the habit of collaboration, it is very important to connect with other people and companies that share the same purpose and which businesses can be complementary. These type of relationships have the potential to bring higher value for collaborators and customers while reducing the risk and making it easier to innovate as there are a variety of resources in use and more than one responsible.

Collaborative thinking has become part of our culture, we not only keep an eye on our competitors but also continuously think about those companies or people we could create great things with.

The easiest way I have found to express how we have started to understand and apply collaborative thinking is by comparing it with how products are distributed in a supermarket. As in any other business, the customer experience determines the position of products in the store. Alongside is the marketing strategy for these products. The goal is to upgrade the sale with products the customer was not actively looking for. One of the strategies I found more interesting is the position of complementary products such as the sauce and the pasta. Those are products of a different category but are complementary if you are getting a pasta most likely you will be looking to buy a salsa for it. This is also a very common strategy to generate offers and sale in a combo. Eg: the ham, the cheese and the bread or the Nutella and the pancakes.

Bringing this comparison to a startup works the same, you can offer your product and collaborate with someone else to provide an added value or generate a more complete experience.

3 Ideas to consider: