In my discussions with CIOs over the last several years, they have repeatedly stressed the importance of considering people and processes before technology. The transformational change CIOs are leading needs to fit with their organizations.

After reading "Smarter Collaboration" by Heidi Gardner and Ivan Matviak (the book reaches shelves on Nov. 1), I think collaborative business culture is a must-have for organizations needing transformation change. This culture should, as a goal, put IT into a team that is creating the corporate future. For this reason, I recommend "Smarter Collaboration" to business leaders and CIOs. With a culture of collaboration, everything is easier.

Why Collaborate?

Gardner and Matviak start their book by asserting that competition moves faster in the digital era. Speed can be a competitive edge or deterrent. The authors argue firms that succeed at transformation figure out how to collaborate across silos and build teams with complementary skills. And this is increasingly the essence of competitive advantage. While technology and the ability to “sense that the snow is melting at the edge” still matters — without collaboration, some organizations can have a "Kodak moment" where the middle of the organization rebels against corporate strategy.

For this reason, businesses today need contributors that can build networks across boundaries and then invoke those networks to deliver value to their companies. The author’s research shows collaboration accelerates innovation, increases customer satisfaction and enhances employee engagement. And these result in higher revenues and profits, greater market share, improved efficiency, accelerated growth and improved transparency and risk management. To prove this point, they provide case studies from multiple industries.

Importantly, smart collaboration also impacts employee engagement. Today, 30% of employees worldwide and 67% in the US say they are not engaged. Expectedly, working remotely tends to increase worker isolation. Given this, CIO David Seidl said in a recent #CIOChat that “today, we're focused on how we build connections and communities for new hires and maintain it for everyone.”

This matters, the authors say, because today’s business uncertainty and complexity are best tackled by a diverse team with complementary talents. The reference to complexity is similar to Professor Russell Ackoff, who suggested, “our environments have become larger, more complex, and less predictable — in short more turbulent.” (“Creating the Corporate Future,” Wiley Press, page 4).

A Collaborative Business Culture Is a Must-Have for Transformational Change