When someone achieves something amazing, like winning a medal at the Olympic Games, they tend to get a lot of individual recognition, and quite rightly so. That’s because great success requires a huge amount of dedication and personal sacrifice, as well as talent. This is what makes anyone who truly shines in their chosen field an example to follow.

The fact is, though, that none of us exist in a vacuum, nor can we succeed completely on our own. Behind every Olympic competitor there’s an extensive team of trainers, nutritionists, psychologists and other advisors. Not to mention the family members and friends who encouraged them, believed in them, bought their kit, and took them to train or compete come wind, rain, or snow.

Tapping into the Spirit of Collaboration

In a business context, this network of support represents what we at Ciena call the ‘Spirit of Collaboration’. It’s the cement that binds our collaborative relationships and working practices together – both internally and with our Partners. In our view, it’s the foundation of all our successes, not just on an organisational level, but also as team members, and as individuals too.

In today’s fast changing world where the need to adapt and transform networks and business processes is critical to survival, no single individual, vendor or partner has all the answers. Collaboration between vendors, partners and indeed competitors is no longer nice to have, it is essential.

Collaboration between vendors, partners, and indeed competitors, is no longer a nice-to-have, it is essential.

There are hundreds of theories about collaboration, and a range of technology tools to help us work with others and achieve great outcomes. However, evidence shows that making our own personal collaborative connections is the best way to thrive and succeed. To foster this, Ciena ran a series of, informal Spirit of Collaboration roundtables throughout 2017 across in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Dubai. The events were a great opportunity to get together with our Partners and to build connections that will ultimately increase our collaborative success.

Going for gold with collaboration

As well as providing a great opportunity to spend valuable time with our strategic Partners, our 2017 roundtables focused on what the Spirit of Collaboration really is and how we can all tap into it to increase our collective and individual success, and – ultimately – deliver fantastic end-customer experiences.

One way we explored the theme was by inviting world class Olympic athletes and champions to share their stories and talk about what how collaboration has played a key part in their own success. These insights have proved extremely valuable for Ciena and our Partners in terms of how we can work together more effectively and how we can achieve better outcomes and deliver better experiences.

There were lots of memorable talks, including at the London event Roger Black, the British Olympic 400 metre athlete, who spoke about how we can ‘run fast if we run alone, but we can run further if we run together’. In another example in Dubai, we heard from Amna Al Haddad, a female Emirati weight lifting champion who represented her country at the Rio Olympics. She spoke about her six key collaboration lessons: letting go of your ego, being fully self-accountable, sharing knowledge with others, encouraging others, putting yourself in a position to excel, and – finally – focusing on the end goal.

It was a mesmerizing talk, and it was a great reminder that collaboration is key to all of our successes – a message that we’ll continue to foster with a review of collaboration stories at our Partner Summit in Athens on the 21st and 22nd of March.

The next step: Exploring the “Science of Collaboration”

Having brought the Spirit of Collaboration to our roundtables in 2017, we are now developing how to evolve this to “The Science Behind the Spirit of Collaboration”. This will explore new ways of developing and sustaining collaborative relationships, business models, and a methodology behind this to ensure we are maximising and accelerating our successes across our Partner Eco-system.

By creating new opportunities for all of us, The Science of Collaboration will take our collaboration strategy to the next level and we are looking forward to you being a part of this journey, because together we can run further.