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Collaborative Insight November 2017 - ISSUE 43

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David HawkinsDiscussion Corner: Rhetoric, Realisation or Revolution

There is little doubt that the publication of ISO 44001 in March has stimulated interest in the topic of Collaboration both in the UK and overseas. For ICW it has been a truly game changing milestone. It also offers us some interesting challenges going forward as we build our international network. At the same time we need to reflect on issues we identified when BS 11000 was published back in 2010. There is no doubt that Collaboration is a hot topic.

A new standard will always prompt some organisations to jump on the band wagon, many wanting to be seen as the first across the line and some with no commitment to follow through. "We have ISO 44001" misses the point if it does not get reflected in change and realisation of benefits. Simply pushing the standard on to contractors or suppliers without participating dilutes the aims of the standard. Of course it does raise the profile but adoption without commitment can have a diluting affect.

At the same time you only have to google the standard to find organisations in many parts of the globe leaping on to the opportunity to provide services to companies that may want to implement it. This does raise concerns as to the level of knowledge they have to provide real value to those clients. Bad advice can be more damaging than no advice as we have seen in the past. One only hopes that organisations considering adopting the standard are careful in their choice of consultants and certification bodies (caveat emptor).

Notwithstanding the potential negatives the early evidence does suggest that the new standard has in many cases had the effect of crystallising what many have recognised and provided them with an international defined platform to approach collaboration in a more systemic way. The level of interest in recent launches in various countries has certainly reinforced this view.

The opportunist may see the standard as quick fix or commercial wind fall. Perhaps what we in the institute and those who gave their time to develop the standard are looking for is a quiet revolution that underpins a sustainable future. We should not get excited by standards but be excited about what they can achieve over time to support collaborative working to enhance performance and deliver value.

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