Adding Value through Collaboration

In a January 2010 New York Times article about collaborative vs. top-down management, SunGard CEO Cristóbal Conde made the following points—many of which match our company’s experience with creating communications tools for global companies.

Why Shift from Top-Down to Collaborative Management?

In past years global companies were a collection of local businesses. Productivity in today’s global companies comes from teams that continuously form and re-form around the world, throughout the global company. In the past, executives received information and selectively passed it on. Today every team member has access to vast amounts of information.

How Can the CEO Add Value through Collaboration?

Today’s CEO can focus on building a platform to enable collaboration. This can be a more scalable and efficient process than a command-and-control model where a CEO is expected to know everything and make decisions for those who work for him or her. As Mr. Conde says, “It’s more like being a producer of the show, rather than being the lead.”

What Makes Collaboration Work for Team Members?

One of the strongest motivators for people in corporations is recognition from their peers. A culture of collaboration and the free flow of information builds equity by allowing everyone in the company a chance to come up with new ideas, add value for customers and—in the process—develop a name for themselves.

How Does My Company Get There?

It’s likely that your company already promotes collaboration through cross-functional team sites on your intranet. The next step may be to add a password-protected corporate social networking tool to the intranet. This may sound scary for traditional top-down organizations, but as Mr. Conde put it, “If you start micro-managing people then the very best ones leave. If the very best people leave, then the people you’ve got left actually require more micro-management.”