E2E Core Team: Kari Niemi HCL, Niraj Sood, TietoEvry, Mikko Raitio UPM IT
Building true collaboration in organizations can be challenging. Successful organizations and teams build trust and ways to bring up difficult issues with care and courage. They have a genuine interest in and respect towards their team members and other stakeholders within their organization. But what about a true partnership between companies? In today’s world of networks and ecosystems, knowing how to build trust between companies provides a competitive advantage and makes work more fun!
We are happy to share with you a unique success story of building trust. First, there were two leaders – customer executives of two big IT –companies – with an open mind and the right level of ambition. They wished to deepen their collaboration with the customer but also with each other even though they might be considered competing vendors. Their extraordinary relationship with a joint thought-leader customer offered a great opportunity to create a true partnership and trust in a unique way.
The three musketeers: Mikko Raitio (UPM), Kari Niemi (HCL) and Niraj Sood (TietoEvry) got together and the journey with Energy Coaching started. Professional coaches Heli & Nina led the journey and utilized among other things a Clarity Focus Energy® model and the personality profiles throughout the journey. Typical collaboration between vendors and customers operates from the “we vs them” and a fixed pie paradigm, that can be heard from the way parties talk about each other. The walls between each party are normally high and visible. Mikko Raitio clarifies typical collaboration situations this way: “Typically customers deal with the IT industry in such a way that there is a quite clear borderline between the customer and supplier.” UPM IT wanted to change this and break the silos, so they introduced a new kind of end–to–end model.“ It is a totally new model that we are putting forward – this is a unique opportunity for us. I’ve never seen this kind of an environment before.” Mikko adds.
It is essential to get to know your partners well and listen to their interests below the surface. “We have been working in a three–party model for a long time, where one party provides the application side and the other the infrastructure services to UPM, but now we – the three parties – have taken it to a new level beyond the contract discussions,” says Niraj Sood. “With this energy, we wanted to go beyond contract discussion and create a real partnership among these people who will be working the next few years together on a daily basis.” Kari Niemi supports these thoughts: “Yes, we are taking that to the next level as Niraj was saying, and also we now have been able to enhance the dialogue between all three parties and to bring people and teams closer together, both from the service delivery point towards UPM IT and actually the business showing up as one unit.”
Any journey begins with creating clarity. In this case, it started by bringing in a quite diverse team with different cultures – not only nationalities but the organization and team cultures as well. The next step was defining who the key leaders on the journey are and forming a joint view on the goals and interests. It was essential to co-create the right kind of forum with psychological safety and anabolic energy to work together. This level of workshopping with several leaders of different partner companies is rare but so valuable. “We can say all of our opinions, we can complement others’ opinions, and we can disagree on those opinions. That has been the best thing, at least from my point of view, of the whole journey.” describes Mikko Raitio.
Niraj Sood emphasizes the importance of creating clarity first: “When we started the journey, we discussed the clarity and we thought we knew what this is all about. And then when we did some exercises, we found out that there were different types of “clarities”, meaning that nothing was truly clear actually. So, a very important part of the journey is creating a common understanding and true clarity.”
Results of true partnership and trust are visible. “The operational teams are more connected, they discuss more openly, which is a huge step forward in terms of bringing this new level of collaboration into action.” lists Kari Niemi. “We are discussing and building trust between the parties here. We have utilized the same approach also entirely in our different teams and used the same methodologies to discuss for example about how to lead energy and how to do things differently – add new ways of working,” adds Mikko Raitio.
True collaboration naturally starts with leaders themselves. Understanding different personalities and own leadership style are vital elements of success. As Mikko Raitio describes: “I would say that it was very interesting to learn about different leadership styles and realize that we have a very diverse overall team. We can still set the same goal and joint vision. And it is a strength to have our different views and opinions and that will bring us in the end even better result.” Kari Niemi continues: “You learn a lot from different personalities and from different leadership styles. As a leader, you need to be able to adapt also, you need to be able to learn, you need to be able to collaborate with different personalities. All this understanding gives you tools to shape your own approach on things. It doesn’t mean that you need to change yourself or you need to change somebody else.”
Mikko Raitio summarizes leading energy: “The whole journey evolved around ensuring good, anabolic energy but first we needed to ensure that we have clarity. After co-creating joint clarity, you can enhance joint accountability in a new way.” Strengthening good energy might happen in very small steps for example: “Instead of sending emails, why don’t you go and have a dialogue, this kind of very easy example is the thing that is increasing the positive energy for our community.” He says and Niraj Sood adds: “Important thing is that people are recognizing now when energy is catabolic or anabolic, even that as such is a success, I would say! It takes time before we all turn, and we have now learned how to turn everybody’s energy into anabolic energy. Being able to recognize the energy quality is an important step.”
Building a true collaboration and true partnership requires open–minded thought–leaders that dare to reach out to a new level of collaboration. Create clarity, lead focus and optimize energy – not only in your team and organization but also with your key partners and stakeholders. Energy Coaching supports leaders and executives in building sustainable and successful collaboration.
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