The Collaboration Economy – Leadership On A Global Scale

Collaboration EconomyI recently finished “The Collaboration Economy – How to meet Business, Social, and Environmental Needs and Gain Competitive Advantage” by Eric Lowitt.   It focuses on how some of the major global players in business and industry have taken it upon themselves to LEAD the way into more environmentally friendly business practices.

Yes, the environmentally conscientious reader will probably connect on a higher level to the content but there are some significant leadership lessons to be found in this vision focused framework by Lowitt.

He describes the efforts being done on a global level by some of today’s industry leaders such as GE and Coca-Cola, to not only be more responsible in the way we are conducting our business but more importantly, how we can collaborate together to accomplish missions that can’t be achieved on an individual basis.  In short, a new world economy based on collaboration.

Lowitt breaks the book down into three sections:


Basically setting the stage, Lowitt describes the difference between “The Waste Economy,” where we are now and “The Collaboration Economy,” where we better be headed.

I won’t run you through the statistics, but basically we are on a short ride to running out of the natural resources that sustain us on a daily basis.  Although focused on environmental issues, I would not consider this a “tree hugger” (for sake of a better term) book.

The real focus is on the collaboration between world business leaders that can lead to changes that simply could not be done by the individual corporations.  This is a clear statement, backed up with logic and fact, that we is better than me.


Part two is a series of chapters focused on specific topics such as energy, water and food, to name a few.  Lowitt describes in detail, how industry leaders are partnering with competitors and leveraging suppliers to join the effort to make needed global changes.

Some may read into the specifics of the topic, but what really resonated to me were the leadership skills that were represented in the changes that have begun.  Think about it – many of the examples that Lowitt explores requires business leaders to take tremendous risks, to their own reputation and position as well as to the bottom line of the business.

Significant financial investments had to be made in order to be the front-runners in these risky decisions.  Many times, I found myself wondering what went through the minds of these leaders as they put the financial stability of their corporations on the line to do the right thing.  Some big leadership lessons throughout!

Although I live in Oregon, a progressive state in their recycling and conservation efforts, I have never given much thought to what goes on behind the scenes.  Yes we have come a long way in the last 40 years, but there is still a long way to go.


The final section really brings home the leadership concepts required to pull this major endeavor off.

Collaborative Leaders Do The Following:

  • Think beyond their tenure
  • Focus on collective and not individual success
  • Are willing to accept someone else’s idea as better than theirs
  • Are willing to make sacrifices for the good of the whole
  • Understand their position is a privilege and not a right, and act accordingly
  • Commit to a true purpose
  • Promote and rely on partnerships
  • Act with integrity, while guided by an ethical compass
  • Have a “How Can We” mindset

Lowitt wraps up the book with this thought:

“Let’s not seek to sustain our current socioeconomic situation.  Instead, let’s work together to create a new era of prosperity that benefits our lives today while enhancing future generations’ ability to meet their needs in perpetuity.”

I realize this is a lot to think about, but the reality is that if our generation doesn’t think about it, time will run out and none of us want our kids or their kids to end up in a world that can’t sustain itself.

My question for you today is this; “Are you willing to give today what is required to preserve tomorrow?”  We can all do something – What will you do?


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Barry Smith    8/28/13   photo courtesy of Amazon   © Building What Matters 2013

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