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Tech rivals Apple and Google announced a partnership last week aimed at addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. The concept – which itself was based upon an impressive bluetooth tracking program rapidly developed by a related MIT-led collaboration – is evaluating how locations identified on both Android and iOS mobile devices can be utilized to track cases and potential exposure. The traditional rivals also announced that they are exploring additional opportunities as to how they can jointly work with other public officials and healthcare contributors to address the crisis. 

If you have read the Escalate Solutions blog in the past, you know that collaboration in the business environment is something I vehemently advocate for. At a time where we have partnerships that led to everything from the International Space Station to Hyperledger, the idea of competitors working together to conquer broader tasks isn’t pioneering on a high level. Still, the Apple and Google announcement certainly caught many by surprise… including me. 

Any time I broach the subject of competition, I can’t help but consider W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne’s “Blue Ocean Strategy” concept. If you haven’t read it (and I recommend that you do), it suggests that the long-standing metric of competition becomes less relevant when unchartered waters are explored and transformational value propositions are generated. It occurred to me that the unprecedented current crisis we are experiencing has taken their assertions regarding competition a step further. We are witnessing an era when we are more likely to be measured by what we are working toward and who we are doing it with than any concern as to who we may be working against. Collaboration is the new competition. 

Also announced recently was the Research Foundry, a global collaboration of researchers, innovators, organizations, and public institutions committed to solving complex health problems including Covid-19. The effort is led by Denver-based BurstIQ, who will allow the collaboration to utilize its established data-private blockchain platform. Their offering promoted cooperation in healthcare long before the virus crisis came about, and the organization’s leadership realized there was an opportunity to leverage their existing product.

A few days ago, I connected with Rob Lubeck, Chief Growth Officer for BurstIQ to see if anyone in my network might also benefit Research Foundry. I was impressed at the breadth of what his organization had accomplished in such a short time.  Lubeck shared, “The BurstIQ team has been focused on this initiative for the last several weeks. Interest in Research Foundry has been expressed from every corner of the globe, and the feedback we are receiving from the healthcare community has reaffirmed the value of what we are doing. Our company culture, which was already centered on collaboration, was integral into making this possible.”

The Apple/Google partnership, the MIT solution and the BurstIQ Research Foundry initiative are all examples how we can all embrace the fundamental principles of collaboration is this uncertain period. Notably, however, the potential is certainly is certainly not exclusive to the healthcare space. As the CEO of Escalate Solutions, a management consulting firm, I practice what I preach when it comes to the approach. A solopreneur with no direct employees, I have an established network of peers and colleagues that I partner with if assignment requires expertise outside of my primary skill set.  

One such advisor is Mike St. John, a Denver-based expert in private equity, finance and strategic advisory. Long-time collaborators and resources for one another, we have stepped up our conversations among ourselves and our extended network to cross-market, explore opportunities and bring value to clients that we know can benefit from our combined expertise.  We are currently working to help a niche of businesses that were struggling to progress from traditional to more futurist digital transformation-oriented mindsets, even before the crisis hit. 

St. John shared, “This marks the fifth major economic crisis that I have experienced and survived in my career, so I know firsthand how overwhelming the environment can be for business owners, especially SMB’s.  One of the few upsides of an environment like this is that organizations have a chance to pivot or reinvent themselves. The themes of collaboration, perseverance, action and execution are more critical than ever. The challenge isn’t insurmountable. Owners just need to ask for the help. I did.”      

Agility, adaptability and speed were leading differentiators in the age of Digital Transformation, long before the pandemic shut down the global economy and lives were put at risk. They will also be differentiators as organizations work to recover in the weeks and months ahead. Every organization, regardless of size, scale, scope, function and industry can learn from these examples. 

Think outside the box. Personalize. Ideate. Test. Pivot. Implement. Who can you and your organization partner with to navigate this difficult time?

Don’t hesitate to call on me if I can help you strategize.