The Power of Collaboration

Proposals are inherently collaborative efforts.  Even in very small businesses, there is unlikely to be a person who is solely responsible for developing and submitting an entire application.

To understand the power of collaboration and how it can be harnessed to proposal development, I recommend a very stimulating book – Dan Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams’s Wikinomics:  How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (2008).  This best seller has major implications for the way we develop proposals.

The thesis of Wikinomics is very straightforward:  in the past, “collaboration was mostly small scale.  It was something that took place among relatives, friends, and associates in households, communities, and workplaces.”  This is not the case today.  “The growing accessibility of information technologies puts the tools required to collaborate, create value, and compete at everybody’s fingertips.  This liberates people to participate in innovation and wealth creation within every sector of the economy.”

According to the authors, in the near future mass collaboration will be based on “individuals and companies employing widely distributed computational and communications technologies to achieve shared outcomes through loose voluntary associations.”  New kinds of businesses will emerge – ones that open their doors to the world; co-innovate with everyone, especially customers; share resources and ideas; and harness the power of mass collaboration to behave like truly global firms.  Wikinomics is based on four basic principles – openness, peer collaboration, sharing, and acting globally.

What will the wiki-workplace look like in the future?   The authors believe we will move from a closed, hierarchical workplace with rigid employment relationships to increasingly self-organized, distributed, and collaborative human capital networks that draw knowledge and resources from everywhere – not just within the four walls of its organization.

This vision of the future workplace has important implications for proposal development.  Let me point out just a few points for you to consider:

  • Proposal innovation will come from a wide range of sources, not just within the proposal team.
  • More proposals will be virtual efforts – people will be working on them all over the country, or the world.
  • Outsourcing will not simply become a way to reduce costs but to gain talent, knowledge, and innovation.
  • Proposal roles within proposal teams will become more overlapping, more collaborative, and more horizontal rather than vertical.

Read Wikinomics.  You will enjoy the book and find many ideas to ponder that may change the way you think about developing proposals.  Perhaps the authors are right.  Harnessing the power of wikinomics may be the wave of the future.

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