Organizations have internally addressed the problems they can tackle alone, and are now reaching beyond their organizational structure to address problems for which they have only partial control or impact. This means participating in inter-organization bodies with the mission to solve the problem by working collaboratively across partner organizations to create solutions.
Inter-organization problem solving creates huge problems for traditional managers and management theory.
Loss of Control
It is uncomfortable for organizations and managers to give up control and decision-making to inter-organizational bodies. Establishing business trust is THE essential element for real progress and support for the work of inter-organizational team’s to be successfully implemented.
Participation on inter-organizational teams requires that resources be offered up to the team, and people’s time is only the start. Resources go beyond meeting participation and include redirecting each participating organization’s resources to the effort: information and data sharing, re-prioritization of existing effort, communication, and changes to strategy are always part of the mix.
Decision-making and Governance
Determining decision-making models, beyond pure consensus is a new area in management theory. The key questions is: “If we can’t reach 100% consensus, then what level of agreement is necessary for you to support the solution if outvoted?”
Delegation of Authority to Representatives
Participation in inter-organizational teams requires delegation of authority to (often) lower level managers who will then have the authority to commit the resources and name of the organization to a solution.
Complexity of Communication
Communicating decisions and progress back to the organization for work that is outside the organization’s structure is not a process that now exists. Until inter-organizational teams are formally viewed as part of the organization’s business model, they will remain in a communication gray area with their work effort not well understood by the organization.