Smart Collaboration: The Growth of the Collaborative Enterprise

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Note from the Editor: Ignasi Alcalde has given us permission to use this article that was published in his blog, in which he talks about how collaboration has converted into a key aspect in organizations. What consequences does collaboration have in the definition of work relationships in a corporation?

We are immersed in a “new economy” in which has begun to predominate more  non-conventional work relationships, and where effective collaboration is consolidating itself as a key point. In his book Sustaining the New Economy: Work, Family, and Community in the Information Age, Martín Carnoy draws the foundation of the scene of work relationships in the “new economy” with the comment: “Work is not disappearing but rather it is suffering a profound change. The two key elements of the transformation are the flexibility of the work process and the interconnection in company networks and the individuals inside those companies.”

But let’s go a little deeper into the core concept of the “new economy”. While many academics and economists have tried to define it, it’s interesting to note David Neumark’s point of view in his article Employment Relationships in the New Economy where in place of finding a definition of the new economy, he explores its consequences and analyses what the new economy produces as “new”.

According to his point of view, what is novel are the consequences that exist in the nature of work relationships. He indicates that in the new economy, the employer/employee work relationship has changed substantially. Employees don’t stay with one company in their professional career. Instead, one of the keys to guaranteeing employment and income security for new employees is to make sure that they include different competences in order to change from one job to the next.

On the other hand,  he also indicates that corporations are also changing a one handed smaller nuclear job, that compliments with a strong punctual job that has the necessary skills in the right moment. In other works, social and economic changes from the last quarter of century have underlined the necessity of organizations in order to have more flexibility in their employment systems. The fast evolution of technology, the prices in the product markets and the financial restructuring of corporations in capital markets has drawn each time more the idea of the “flexible corporation”.

Here is where the Co-culture or collaboration culture, has a key role and where coworking plays a key role as a motor of change and an ecosystem for innovation. We can define coworking as “an innovative way of working that allows various individual professionals from distinct sectors to share the same workspace, promoting collaboration, working in a community space and multidisciplinary area, and networking.”

But in the CoWorking Spain Conference, the round table in which I had the pleasure to participate in, next to Albert Cañigüeral and Libby Garret, we explored if the model of coworking can be the key to rapid growth in the collaborative enterprise. It represents an opportunity to change the organizational model and construct the new ecosystem for corporate innovation, where the TIC and enterprise network are fostering and fomenting even more this collaboration and interaction between individuals, with the objective to fight a common good, whether it’s a project or greater knowledge.

But for co-creation of this skill they combine the two experiences: the collective and the collaborative. If for some reason human intelligence is characterized as collective, since we are social beings and we learn new knowledge from interacting with other humans. The intelligence has always been collective and oriented to productivity. However, the collaborative intelligence occupies itself with problems that individual people experience and the distinct interpretations from experts are critical for the resolution of problems. The objective is to learn a trade or increase the knowledge of all the members in the group, as shared in the article “Cerebros Unidos” (United Brains) published recently in La Vanguardia.

In short, this new environment marked by knowledge, TIC and the enterprise network, draws us new understandings and new employees and professional profiles. These “new occupations” demand a lot more mastery of certain skills: emphasis falls on social competence and collaborative methodologies. And extending more over to the impact of TIC, the collaborative enterprise is actually being born demanding a series of positions and competences like: the capacity to make decisions independently, flexibility to work in any place and at any moment with any person, and the capacity of organization. These are the basics of Smart Collaboration.

Ignasi Alcalde (@ignasialcalde) graduated from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain with a degree in Multimedia. He also hold a Master’s degree from UOC in Information and Knowledge of Society. He is a consultant at IA and consulting lecturer at UOC. He shares his reflections about collaborative work on his blog and his twitter feed.