It’s frightening to look to the business future and know that there are endless upheavals ahead but it’s the way things are; volatility is the new certainty. This is worldwide. It is across industries, across sectors, across corporate and entrepreneurial platforms. To survive in a highly volatile environment, the ability to both cope with, and instigate change, is critical.
Part of this process – the way in which we can future-proof ourselves as leaders, and our businesses as a whole – is of course through collaboration. Why? Because it assists us to:
- think differently – we have the input of those around us who have equally big dreams and ambitions;
- develop a new perspective – we can take in different skills, areas of business, and ways of operating;
- disrupt the status quo – we can be on the leading edge of innovative ways to drive change, if we act together; and
- enable ourselves to compete long term – if we are willing to bank our skills together to become the best possible ‘knowledge currency’.
We can talk collaboration all we want – until we are blue in the collective face; we can even build it in to our mission statements and company values in cheery slogans – “C’MON, LET’S WORK TOGETHER!!” – but.
If we don’t keep the conversation going; if we don’t continue to discuss, to share, to tell our stories of what is important to us personally and professionally, to debate… and here’s the crux of the matter, to talk with truth and honesty – then it doesn’t matter how much we want it – collaboration will never happen.
Communication is the key to collaboration. It’s as simple – and as complex – as that.
Lack of communication raises more questions than answers. It creates uncertainty, fear, sets alarm bells ringing, and prompts regression to the safe space of ‘just me’ and ‘I must protect what I know’. Think about the childhood game of Chinese Whispers. It may no longer be politically correct as a term, but it is the perfect example of how a lack of communication means a tear in the fabric of belief. It plants the seed of a new version of a story, an interpretation (often incorrect) of an event; it kick starts us to make up our own value judgement.
The mature tree at the end of that planted seed?
Panic. Stress. Misery. Isolation. Most frightening of all, lack of communication results in the growth of an inability to trust, and therefore to move forward and become bigger, better versions of ourselves as leaders, as humans, and as the steering committee of our business futures.
We are smack bang in the whirlwind of demand for innovation. And guess what? It isn’t going to stop. We will only see an increase in major socio-economic shifts and ever-changing business practices, structures and the way we work. The self-perpetuation of momentum – the drive towards continuous change – is our future.
To survive, to thrive, we have to communicate our desire to be a part of that future change. And we also have to communicate our desire to have those we value be a part of that change with us.
So start to talk it up. Or else, we – and I do mean we – face a very long, quiet, road ahead.
And who wants to take a road trip into the future alone?