In his thought provoking work, “Power through Collaboration: The formula for success in challenging situations”, the author Stephen Willis provides a practical and psychological approach to how people feel about working together and what makes them feel that way. The author considers collaboration as a powerful form of cooperation.
He cites examples of situations where people believe that their actions are collaborative but those with whom they are collaborating feel exactly opposite. The author refers collaboration to a narrower range of cooperative behavior, which is close to partnering because collaboration is first and foremost about people.
Although collaboration has a positive meaning, ‘collaborationism’ and ‘collaborationist’ are used to free-up collaboration and collaborator of its contemporary positive meaning in order to achieve negative results. Steve associates collaboration with flatter organization, less rigid hierarchy, egalitarian norms, consensus decision-making, decentralized power and authority, etc.
When discussing the leadership in collaborative organization, Steve reminds the reader that collaboration is opposite to weakness and powerlessness. He considers collaboration as the most important means of getting things done and achieving important goals.
The author sternly warns that any cooperative behavior, which is devoid of human consciousness and capability, is counter-productive for organizations that need to create, innovate, progress and evolve. Collaboration increases with individual empowerment as disempowered individuals are not capable of working willingly and freely making them much less effective collaborators. In fact, Steve mentions that true collaboration is caring about and working to achieve goals of all significant collaborators and stakeholders.
In an interesting example, the author cites the once famous (now infamous after national best seller Greenspan’s Fraud) Alan Greenspan’s bad bet on power of self-interest and competition to function as primary operating mechanism of highly dependent and complex global economic system. This bet proved disastrous unfolding into a global economic recession in 2007.
Another important quote by the father of modern economics, Adam Smith, needs to be brought to notice to the reader because it explains Adam Smith’s benevolent vision of Capitalism and an introspection as to why US capitalism has transformed from a free market enterprise into monopoly capitalism. According to Adam Smith, ‘’How selfish so ever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasures of seeing it’’.
Power through Collaboration believes that a good economic system must take into account self-interest as well as caring for others. The author states that despite reluctance of some powerful players and many obstacles, willingness to advance beyond purely driven self-interest promises unparalleled rewards, advantages and solutions.
Steve has also provided a very nice and useful formula for Power through Collaboration (PtC),
PtC= (PtC type + PtC motivation) x Collaboration Essentials (CE)
Steve has also provided examples with regards to how to make use of this formula to gauge the level of collaboration in an organization.
Last but not least, I conclude this book review with a quote from his book by a famous and most influential business thinkers from Wall Street Journal, Gary Hamel. As per Gary, “ We need a new form of Capitalism for 21st century. One dedicated to the promotion of greater well being rather than single minded pursuit of growth and profits; one that doesn’t sacrifice the future for near term; one with an appropriate regard for every stake holder; and one that holds leaders accountable for all the consequences of their actions ”.
I want to inform the readers that in my upcoming book titled “Mass Capitalism: A Blueprint for Economic Revival”, I have envisioned exactly that form of Capitalism, which Gary Hamel wishes for 21st century. The ideas presented in my upcoming book also resonate well with Stephen Willis’ ideas about success of businesses and their employees with Power through Collaboration.