We Are All In This Together: The Success of Stakeholder Collaboration Forums

I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a number of Stakeholder Collaboration Forums at GlobeScan. And as I get ready to take part in my seventh – the HP Living Progress Exchange on March 17 and 18 – I thought it was a good time to reflect on why these types of forums are so compelling.

What is a Collaboration Forum?

For the uninitiated, the stakeholder collaboration forums that GlobeScan has developed with a number of leading companies, are, in simple terms, text-based, online forums that bring together a whole host of stakeholders, experts, and opinion leaders to discuss important issues, share best practice, inspire new ideas and solutions, and forge new relationships.
Without this tool, it’s is unlikely that the collective wisdom of an impressive array of individuals would have ever been collected together in one place, at one time.
To date, four leadership companies have worked with GlobeScan to conduct a forum. Both Unilever and BT have conducted two forums, and AB InBev conducted their first forum in 2013. The most recent proponent is HP, who conducted the first Living Progress Exchange (LPX) in September 2014, and is following up on the ideas generated in that first forum, with the second LPX happening next week (spread across two days – March 17 and 18 – to allow for people in different time zones to attend).

Improving Our Game Together

One thing that has united all these companies is a desire to engage, and seek perspectives and ideas from others. As HP’s Chris Librie said recently in an interview, “we don’t, at all, pretend to have all the answers. So it is important for companies like HP to reach out to professionals in the field [. . .] and also other companies that are trying to have a positive impact on these issues. So really, only by having those kinds of dialogues—collaborating together, discussing the different approaches that we are taking, and sharing best practices—can we all learn from each other and improve our game.”
The sense that we are all in this together is something shared by all these companies, along with the desire to harness the power of technology to increase their ability to engage and collaborate. And to me it is the use of technology that has made these forums so effective and compelling. Not only do they allow us to bring a whole range of experts together efficiently and at scale, but they have also proven to be incredibly effective at generating both a lively discussion and an open sharing of perspectives, ideas and best practice (for the science behind this, see this blog by my colleague Dr. Melaina Vinski).
In reflecting on his experience in the first HP Living Progress Exchange, what struck Chris Librie “was how people took so easily to the online format and how people were able to build on each other’s comments and questions, which created a real community in such a short span of time. The power of technology was really working for us because it multiplied the ability to connect with many stakeholders.”

Collaborating for the Future

We know that collaboration of all types is vital for making significant progress on some of the world’s biggest challenges, and in experiencing these collaboration forums firsthand bolsters my confidence that there are enough people out there who are willing to show up and work together, in whatever forum they can, to continue to make progress on some of the most significant challenges we face. To quote Jamais Cascio, one of the special guests in the upcoming HP Living Progress Exchange, “nobody’s going to fix the world for us, but working together, making use of technological innovations and human communities alike, we might just be able to fix it ourselves.”