Collaboration achieves better outcomes

In this thought-provoking blog, Director of Socius, Daniel May talks about the rise of collaboration, and the outcomes that are possible when everyone works together!

There are several overused buzz words that surround the dialogue in our industry; collision, serendipity, placemaking, ecosystem, bifurcation to name just a few, and I am guilty of using all of them, too. If I had received a pound for each time I heard these words at MIPIM, I’d probably be able to afford an apartment in Cannes! But one word is used more than all of these: collaboration. And it’s not exclusive to our industry. Everyone is trying to collaborate. It seems to be the one reason that people use to justify coming into the workplace – not to work, but to ‘collaborate’.

Collaboration – to work jointly on an activity or project – used to be an ideology, something that we all aspired to but rarely truly achieved. There was always reasons, obstacles, or hidden agendas that stopped us. And perhaps I’m late to this party, but recently I think there has been a fundamental shift in the realisation that collaboration achieves better outcomes. I’m not talking about a design team that shares information amongst themselves, or internal teams doing a half-day of brainstorming, or organising an event with local stakeholders to co-design a structure. I’m talking about a holistic collaborative environment, across a multitude of stakeholders and workstreams, all working towards a common goal.

This is what I’m witnessing (and hopefully helping to foster) in Sutton, where we are working with Aviva to deliver the London Cancer Hub – a global leading cancer research and treatment district. It is both refreshing and encouraging that everyone seems – thus far - to be on the same page.

The design team of Gensler, Arup, Aecom and Savills have been exemplary in the way they have approached the first phase of the project to establish the brief. No egos, no agenda, no hierarchy, and no limitations to exploring the art of the possible together. Our strategic sessions have been the epitome of collaboration in action. I also think building design is no longer led by one discipline. With the ever-increasing complexity of design considerations and environmental challenges, the team of consultants need to combine their skills, ideas, and wealth of knowledge to create a rigorous response.

It is beyond the design team, however, where the sense of collaboration is most impressive. There is a unified understanding that the potential of the broader district can only be unlocked if everyone works together. The extensive nature of the stakeholders that the scheme will touch over the course of the next decade, and beyond, is vast, but we are yet to encounter anyone who isn’t willing to invest their time and energy in helping to shape the direction of the scheme. This is where the truest sense of collaboration has the most desirable and lasting outcomes.

At Socius, we’re committed to working collectively to deliver on shared ambitions for the community, public sector and our investors. Find out more about our partners here