MY HOT TAKE: The word collaboration is overused and under actioned.

Many implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on business in the past 10 months have seen a positive twist. None more so than in the energy sector, as discussed by the panel on last week’s OWI webinar which was hosted by Genoa Black, and focussed on turning the lessons from 2020 into opportunities in 2021.

Key themes from the discussion cited examples of exceptional approaches to new initiatives, collaboration, diversification and developments in digitalisation. But the overarching key theme for me was around a shift in working with customers and the real shift towards real collaboration. All panel members talked about the open-minded approach of customers wanting to work together with suppliers to find solutions over the restrictive and challenging year just passed. Supported by a shift to online from predominantly F2F engagement at home and abroad, this new way of working has opened up relationships, enabled parties to really get to know each other (home working, warts and all) and “levelled the playing field” in terms of relationships.

 But how do we hold onto this positive change, the collaborative change that we have been wanting for so long?

  1. Capture it. Wrap-ups, lessons learned and developing new protocols for new and effective ways of working is essential in maintaining ongoing positive practices. Write it down.
  2. Share it. Internally, to ensure full team buy-in, taking through to customer engagement processes and areas of accountability. Externally, to raise the parapet and agree official new rules of engagement. Embed it.
  3. Be honest about it. We can all learn from our mistakes and if there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s the value of vulnerability at a leadership level. Be open.
  4. Promote it. And of course, where we make big strides, promoting these achievements are fundamental to our own confidence and assertiveness in the industry. And let’s be generous about what has worked so together we can all benefit from our collective success.

Collaboration, has in my view, been an overused and under actioned word in the energy sector for many years. And an output of travel restrictions because of the pandemic has simply forced the issue.

Now we are seeing and feeling the true benefit of working properly together. Let’s not miss the opportunity to celebrate in this success and hold onto it moving forwards.