Leaving Your Ego in the Parking Lot

Collaboration is apparently the new buzz word in CSR – that is collaboration between businesses, NGOs and governments. (I like to think that collaboration between individuals in CSR can hardly be called “new”.)

Recently, Ma’ala, a non-profit organization promoting business social responsibility in Israel, conducted a survey to discover what trends are causing the fantastic growth of CSR in recent years. The results of this survey were released at its annual conference which I attended earlier this month. I was happy to hear Momo Mahadav, Ma’ala’s GM, name collaboration as one of the key worldwide trends.

When it comes to making a meaningful difference, especially with environmental issues, collaboration is the name of the game. However, we all know that collaboration is not something that comes naturally or easily. Yossi Kronman, manager of Environmental Safety and Health at Intel, said it very well in his lecture at the conference: “Businesses can provide high added value to municipalities. However, to benefit from this value, the parties have to be open and lay their interests clearly on the table, leave the ego in the parking lot and regard the project as a calling; as something that will also help the environment, not just the business.”

Yossi’s words can be taken as gospel for all CSR projects – there’s no room for ego in this type of work. To make a change, we must all be committed to working together for the common good of the project and ultimately of the community.

Intel’s participation in the conference focused on our green, environmentally friendly operations. (I already wrote a couple of blog posts about the MBR project Yossi discussed and about Intel’s green building in Haifa.) As the Israeli leaders in sustainable construction, we highlighted collaboration as an engine for driving real environmental change. In fact, at the conference we hosted our NGO partners, the Israeli Green Building Council and the Israel Green Building Association.

Entrepreneurs and Collaboration Go Together

We also participated in a session entitled, “Business, City, Sustainability and Collaboration: A Guided Discussion on Successful City Hall-Business Partnerships.” The session was moderated by Boaz Israeli, CEO of Praxis, a company that offers management services for intricate, multi-participant projects. Mr. Israeli shared two insights he discovered in his work on national and municipal projects:

1. Collaborations on bleeding-edge issues, such as the environment, take place between entrepreneurs, not between sectors or organizations. The entrepreneurs can be business-oriented, environmentally-oriented or socially-oriented. Even regulators can act in an entrepreneurial way. The common denominator of entrepreneurs is their understanding of the need to collaborate with other entrepreneurs in order to break through the glass ceiling of the achievements.

2. To achieve a quantum leap, the project has to leverage the unique know-how and capabilities of each participant without letting any of them (regardless of their power, dominance or wealth) to take over the project and trample over the uniqueness of the other project participants.

In other words, a large CSR project’s success depends on collaboration and this type of collaboration calls for a new set of game rules.

So if you want to join us on our mission to better our world (and I hope you do), we need and welcome you with open arms – just make sure you’ve left your ego in the parking lot.

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