A framework for industry leadership based on collaboration


Last week I ran a half-day workshop at the annual offsite for executives of a major airline alliance, taking the group from a broad view of macro trends shaping the future, through to the generation of specific actionable ideas to create greater value across the alliance.

As part of the workshop we used a framework that I originally developed over a decade ago in the context of collaboration in the financial services industry, but I have used in the last year in industries as diverse as healthcare, airlines, and professional services.

The future of every industry lies in value creation across organizations. To achieve that we need explicit discussions and engagements among all industry participants on what it is that they’d like to collectively achieve, and how they can get there. This framework lays out the key components:

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You have to start with:


This comes from discovering and finding alignment between participants:
What world do we want to create? What might be possible?

From there you delve into the required:


This is where you examine:
What institutions, business models, platforms and systems will enable this vision? What is missing now?

You also need to understand the:


There are always obstacles; you need to understand and explore:
What is blocking the potential? How can we take away or bypass these blocks?

To get to your vision you need to explore the many possible:


Having a successful journey to your destination means you must ask:
What possible paths forward could allow us to reach our vision? What is most feasible? What are milestones along the way?

This will inevitably require a high degree of:


In order to build this you first must understand:
What collaboration is needed between whom? How can we foster and enable that collaboration?

And finally you will never achieve the vision without clear and consistent:


Collectively you need to define and agree:
What action today can be taken by the industry? What action can you take to enable the industry’s potential?

This framework, or variations on it, can be applied in any industry. Every industry requires leadership to change from where it has been to where it can create substantially greater economic value for its participants, and social value for all stakeholders.

Some may wonder why they should invest their energy in leading their industry forward rather than focusing solely on their organization, however leading beyond boundaries always brings value to those who help move the system forward.

As I wrote in Living Networks:

Today, you must be a leader across a domain that often extends far beyond the borders of your company. In order for your company to succeed, the whole value network within which you work must succeed as well. Unless you provide the leadership for that to happen, you become the subject of industry forces rather than creating them. Industries will inevitably shift dramatically as the network economy comes to life, and those that will take best advantage of those changes are those that lead them.

In every industry, the opportunity is there.