By: Gayle Dendinger with Annette Perez Issue: Resource Management Section: Letter from Publisher
Working Together for Competitive Advantage
As was noted in the last issue of ICOSA, we are heading in a new direction. As indicated in our inaugural issue, this magazine is a “work in progress,” and over the past three years, we have fine-tuned it to maximize our internal and external resources.
About five years ago, my team and I wrote a book based on years of notes and research on what I believe demonstrates a model for connection and collaboration. This issue focuses on resources, of which I look to the bee as a guide. Our goal is to show you in future issues that the creation of an infrastructure (spider), a resource management system (bee), and a vision (dragonfly) are all required before action can begin. Once all preparation has taken place, we look to transform (butterfly) the vision into action and continuously (snail) build and improve in subsequent rounds. There is an abundance of resources in our world and in our community, and many of the stories in this issue highlight the significance of these resources. I would argue that the business world has many means available yet wastes innumerable amounts of resources. In order to operate a successful business, the following resources are vital for an organization to survive—financial, human, information technology, and other intangible resources.
It is imperative to have financial resources available. Financial resources include everything from inventory, operating materials, supplies, property, plant and equipment, accounts receivables, bonds, stocks, cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments, buildings, machinery, real estate, vehicles, tools, bank loans, venture capital and lines of credit. Simply stated, money or hard assets are needed to run the business.
Resource reserves allow collaborative efforts to continue in times of scarcity. For example, ICOSA started because of terrible difficult economic circumstances. We needed a tool to maximize and share our stories and the stories of our collaborative partners. This entire magazine and media engine would not be possible without years of financial planning to get through rough periods that have ultimately affected the whole world.
After financial resources are established, the second greatest significant resource, in my opinion, is people—otherwise known as human resources. Since organizational performance depends so heavily on the people we interface with, we must be selective about who is hired. Once they are hired, we must give them the tools and support they need to shine. Strong connections between peers, colleagues, and outstanding leaders are the key to acquiring intelligence, information, ideas, and ideals to effectively run a business. This again reminds us of why connecting people for collaborative purposes is so powerful. Teams are made up of different people with different roles who unite for a common purpose. Collaborative efforts strive to connect passionate and productive people who bring different skill sets and resources to the table. By connecting quality people, quality information, intelligence, ideas and innovation can be gathered together for collective purposes, therefore propelling the organization.
Information Technology Resources
Information technologies resources can be viewed as information, data, physical computers, laptops, hardware, software, servers, and cloud computing, to name a few. Although information is easy to access (i.e. internet, social media sites, multiple documents and spreadsheets), it becomes cumbersome if the information is scattered. An information management system is an absolute necessity, storing the information and tools that support the organizational functions. It provides a means to organize and archive all forms and records for human resources and provides a universal communication system. A proper information management system helps groups to stay organized and maintain a shared vision by keeping all records and research in one location. Resources, such as data and information, must be shared if the organization is to survive. And, if the members of the organization are properly tied together, they are able to quickly relay information and create meaningful knowledge.
Moreover, technological advancements play a huge role in modern society. It is for this reason that businesses must first require a system that facilitates the information sharing necessary for true collaboration to occur. In today’s information age, a group that can systematize, access, and use the right resources has a huge competitive edge, and quality output should increase as resource management systems help to magnify the power of cooperative supporters.
It’s easy to ignore intangible resources for obvious reasons—they are intangible. But they are important. They can be anything from reputation, brand, intellectual property, or company culture. These resources are all very important in keeping a business prosperous. Building a trustworthy and strong reputation for an organization takes many years and uses financial and human resources to keep it continuous;, unfortunately, reputation can be broken down within a matter of minutes if proper training and criteria are not established. Equally important is a company’s intellectual property. Every company has a “golden nugget” that was specifically built for that organization. Case in point, an information management system may be built to include all the “bells and whistles” that is fit for that organization, but if that trade secret is not protected, then that valuable piece of information can be duplicated, and as a result be worth nothing, causing loss in value, lost customers, and perhaps lost competitive edge. Finally a company’s culture is a treasured resource. In my organization, we strongly embrace the “value of now,” and we infrequently find anyone sitting on a task. When an assignment is delegated, it is quickly and proficiently completed. As I’ve mentioned in previous issues, we are a freight forwarding company whose ultimate goal is to move equipment globally—NOW. And, because of our freight background, we are extremely agile.
The duplication of resources results in wasted time, money, effort, and space. When members of a collaborative effort can proficiently navigate within the system, keeping a constant flow of necessary information, waste is thereby reduced and collaboration becomes infinitely easier. Whatever the method, all members of an organization should be required to use the group’s mode of information sharing so that communication is sustainable, consistent and standardized. Creating a proper system able to consistently increase productivity while improving quality over time is a serious challenge. It needs to be designed in a fashion so that its form fits its function, helping collaborative members to create value and benefitting all involved. People are the workers of the collaborative “hive.” They are responsible for gathering both the tangible and intangible resources, and for using these resources to further the work of the organization. However, it is important to remember that while increasing the number of team members is likely to mean greater input of resources into the system, it will not necessarily increase the output of results. Productivity, not size, determines the success of a collaborative effort. Organizations that attempt to proliferate too quickly will have gaps in both their infrastructure and their resource management system—they cannot grow strong if they are spread too thin. Collaborative systems must start with a small group of outstanding people, who each bring a large amount of resources to the group. If expansion is a necessary part of completing the vision, growth must be careful and deliberate. The infrastructure must remain strong and well connected, while the resource management system continues to maintain order amongst the newly compounding resources during the subsequent infrastructure growth.
While an efficient resource management system must have a common structure for all members to utilize, it also requires flexibility in the types of imperative resources it is able to store. Collaboration works by allowing different individuals, departments and companies to do what they do best, while still working towards a common vision (the dragonfly). Regardless of how well-managed a resource system is, it will not further a collaborative effort if there is not cooperation among members in using that information for a common good. In nature, individual bees do not inherently know what actions will benefit their collective hive. They must communicate well in order to coordinate their efforts. We must take this lesson from the bee and realize that simply having and storing resources does not make them valuable. The success of honeybees comes from their ability to communicate while collecting and storing resources as a group, and utilizing these resources in a way that benefits the entire hive.
- Gayle Dendinger