Cooperation vs. collaboration: Lessons learned from the world of sports

Cooperation is good, but true collaboration can be a game changer. In our latest podcast, find out how city leaders, executives and non-government agencies that need to collaborate and share data can learn a great deal from the world of sports.

Hexagon’s Jack Williams, director of industry and portfolio marketing; Chris Klimm, executive consultant; and Mike Baker, business development for innovation products, recently sat down to talk about the shifting landscape of sports leagues and the valuable lessons to be learned.

Here are a few excerpts from the discussion:

Jack: We’re just coming off the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and two other recent events that highlighted the perils of cooperation, in my mind. First, the recent NCAA football conference realignment in the southeastern United States, which some say is forced cooperation that is killing the sport, and the attempt to create a European-wide soccer league and the resulting pushback from the EPL league and others who said forced cooperation would kill the longstanding regional leagues like the English Premier League…

So, guys, when we talk about cooperation ̶ and I’m talking cooperation versus collaboration ̶ I do want to talk on some of the perils of short-term thinking, not playing the long game. And like some of the examples I gave from NCAA football or the English Premier League, it’s not clear that playing the long game, so to speak, has the potential to invite backlash.

When we apply that logic to the business and technology world, what do you think are some of the potential hazards of not thinking things through when cooperation or data sharing or data interoperability initiatives are introduced, meaning when cities or organizations think about, “Hey, let’s all cooperate,” or some entity says, “Hey, we all need to play ball and cooperate and do what’s best for everybody. So, we’re going to enact a data sharing initiative or enact some interoperability initiative.” …

Chris:…I think the biggest obstacle I see is lack of buy-in from one or more of the stakeholders. If a stakeholder doesn’t see the value in the collaboration product, it’s really “what’s in it for me” or “what’s in it for us” attitude. And when that develops, the interest and the motivation for that stakeholder or organization is not there. And that can really defeat the overriding goals of the project. And I think the other thing I see that sometimes makes these things unsuccessful, is fear plays a role. The fear that one stakeholder has more power in the partnership. And when I say power, decision-making power. Are my decisions being heard? Do they hold as much value as the opinions and decisions of the other partners?

Jack:… [B]ringing back the sports analogy. Typically, when a group of organizations or entities gets together, let’s say to form a league, sometimes on the surface, everybody acts as if they’re acting in everybody’s best interest, but usually it’s just one or two entities that have the power and gain most of the value from the relationship. And I can definitely see how that happens in the business and technology world where you have a cooperative or collaborative type of project or initiative introduced. But in the end, it’s usually one or two agencies or one or two organizations that end up getting all the value and the others just basically being forced to cooperate. So, that definitely resonates…

Mike:…And we think about sports, we think about individual sports and we think about team sports, but the world in which we live in, it’s a team sport. It takes these organisations to collaborate with each other to solve our problems. And so, I think (HxGN) Connect gives a great platform for us to support that dynamic and flexible collaboration that’s really needed. And so, I’m really excited about the future of Connect, not just some of the things that Chris mentioned, but other things that we have on the roadmap. And so, it makes anxious to see where all we can take it.

Listen to the full podcast on HxGN Spotlight.

Learn more

Are you ready to reimagine collaboration? Find out more about HxGN Connect, Hexagon’s new cloud-native, SaaS collaborative workspace.

Mark your calendar!

We’re preparing now for HxGN LIVE Global 2022. Join us in-person (or online) June 20-23 in Las Vegas for a tailored, hybrid event experience to discuss, debate and encounter the autonomous future.

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