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Secrets of the world’s top collaborations

I had a conversation recently with someone who works for a company whose business model is built entirely around teamwork and collaboration. They’ve been doing it for decades and it has created huge success for them.

We were arranging to meet to chat about this topic that is so close to both our hearts when he said something that stopped me in my tracks - remember though this is our usp and we don’t readily share the ingredients!


I should say the tone was totally friendly but it made me think about how (and I have experienced this in my work), once people tap into the true power of collaborative working, they hold it close as the essential ingredient to fabulous working relationships and work inside and outside their business.

They have found their secret sauce and sometimes they’re not sure they want to tell anyone about it! :)

So...who and where are the great collaborators? Do we know how they are doing ‘it’? I’ve set myself on a mission to find out about those remarkable teams and write about it.

First up, Motorola (it’s not always about Apple) and the RAZR phone. The challenge - to create the thinnest phone ever released, but also to create a thing of beauty, more like jewelry than a utilitarian object and against an ambitious deadline.

Collaboration factors:

- Speaking up and experimentation

- Ideas, criticisms and talking about failures were all welcomed

- Productive conflict and debate meant that multiple iterations and prototypes were tried

- Daily team meetings for reflection

- A collective commitment to not taking the easy solutions

The result - the team trusted each other enough to ignore human factors experts who said a cell phone could only be so wide and still feel comfortable and placed the battery next to the circuit board in a totally new clamshell design to make it as thin as possible. The RAZR launch was the most successful to date, selling 50 million in two years and 110 million in four years.

(Credit - Amy Edmondson, teaming, How Organisations Learn, Innovate and Compete