Back in the Stone Age, when we used to live in caves and we had to fight the outer world to survive, would you have been able to survive on your own?
Instinctively we knew that we had to work together to survive. Combining each others strengths and capabilities made us stronger and enabled us not only to survive, but also to overcome the fiercest challenges.
I would think that this early collaboration was purely based on trust; I find it difficult to imagine how we would scratch a contract on the wall of our caves and subsequently measure our progress to control that contract.
Humanity evolved. With its factories, the industrial revolution brought a different kind of collaboration. Somewhere the need for control creeped in and collaboration was no longer solely built on trust, but on control.
Fast forward to today, we see that many young entrepreneurs have an open, transparent and supportive mindset. They share information and collaborate instinctively. On one hand their collaborations can be short and task driven, just to help each other out. However on the other hand, their collaborations can last for many years and can become essential for their business. Even these long lasting collaborations are often still based on a handshake and the trust in each other.
There is a broad spectrum between trust and control. On the other side of the spectrum, there are the companies that come from a background of control. These companies are protective about their knowledge and appreciate a non-disclosure agreement before sharing information. Business collaborations with these kind of companies are contained in a contract that controls what needs to be done together. Collaboration becomes a matter of what need and should be done, rather than sharing and helping out.
Across the spectrum of trust and control we see business collaborations equally flourish and fail. Without trust, if possible at all, collaborations will have a hard time to flourish. Without control, the level of trust needs to be high for the collaboration to succeed.
We’ve evolved and we are no longer the cave men that are driven to collaborate to survive. Nowadays we collaborate for efficiency and growth and for the fact that together we can do something we can simply not do alone.
The collaborative business world is also in a transformation from control driven to more trust driven. The open, transparent and supportive generations are no longer the future; they are already an essential part of our workforce. To establish successful business collaborations in a transformative business world, we need to bridge the differences. The recipe of success will therefore be somewhere in the balance of trust and control.
It is essential to establish a level of trust with your partner, yet it is good to be clear about your intentions and capture the agreements in writing. Just to have a common foundation for the collaboration. In a trustful business collaboration measuring progress is a joint tool. It allows you and your partner to understand how the collaboration is progressing and to jointly adjust where and when needed.