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On Becoming a CCO Published: Sunday, March 24, 2013 12:01 am By: Ulises Pabón, Chief Operations Officer

As you climb the corporate ladder in pursuit of a C-level title, there’s one C-level position you can embrace no matter where you sit on the totem pole today. It’s a title that’s not conferred, but claimed. Rather than being promoted to it, you live up to it. Its compensation package is very attractive, although differed. It will take some time for you to cash-in on the benefits. However, given today’s state of affairs, there is no doubt that those that assume the title will receive a huge return on investment.

The title is Chief Collaboration Officer or CCO. Becoming a CCO can be the most important decision you can make. Let me explain why.

We live in a connected world, full of interdependencies. Concepts such as virtual social networks, open innovation and co-creation (where companies tap into people around the world to create the next generation of products and services), and coopetition (where competitors come together to cooperate on a common agenda) are a staple in today’s business world.

Corporate strategic and operational plans are full of initiatives impossible to achieve without collaboration. Whether it’s improving sales through cross-selling, launching a new product or service, or upgrading to a new IT platform, working in silos is a recipe for failure.

To be sure, the need for teamwork is not new. Cooperation among departments and a collaborative culture have always been recognized as signs of a productive and healthy work environment. And from a broader perspective, mankind’s discovery that working together we can achieve results we are incapable of achieving alone is at the heart of all of our social constructs. So, one may ask, what’s the big deal with collaboration?

The criticality of collaboration emerges when we superimpose upon this concept the traditional silo structures of the organizations we work in. When turf wars and finger pointing abound, the spirit of collaboration is squelched. And when managers and executives equate networking to political bridge-building, networks becomes obstacles rather than enablers to true collaboration.

You assume the CCO role when you seek to understand the bigger picture, when you pay attention to interdependencies, and when you proactively connect with others to advance your organization’s agenda.

CCOs are proficient in network building. They see the world as a huge Wikipedia and they access it at will. They are not afraid to say “I don’t know” and do not hesitate to learn something new. For them, asking others through email, messenger, or through the latest collaboration app is second nature.

CCOs also help others connect and collaborate. Some CCOs serve as communication hubs, connecting players across departments. Others provide guidance and advice to others on the new collaboration tools and technologies. Still others – self-made integrators capable of bridging disciplines and practices – work as facilitators bringing people together to tackle challenging problems.

Connectivity is increasing exponentially. The roof and walls of your organization are a mirage. The imperative to collaborate is deeply embedded in your organization’s agenda. Your company may be operating under a vintage structure but its challenges and goals are flat out 21st century.

Learn and practice the art of collaboration; become a Chief Collaboration Officer; and help your organization ride the wave to the future.

Copyright 2013 QBS, Inc.

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