Priscilla McKinney on how Collaboration is the new Competition

We welcomed Priscilla McKinney, CEO and Mama Bird at Little Bird Marketing back to the show recently to talk about her newly published book, “Collaboration is the new competition: Why the future of work rewards a cross-pollinating hive mind & how not to get left behind.” She says that, as an industry, “we can come together, take the pressure off and we can have more, bigger wins in this industry for ourselves, for our teams, for our companies.”

She said that collaboration is an important theme right now because she believes that it is time that we change the way we look at tough challenges, and approach them with the mindset of teamwork and finding not only success for ourselves, but also for many more people along our path.

Priscilla says some people confuse collaboration with camaraderie or simple connection. “You wanted to gather everyone around the campfire and sing Kumbaya. But deep down you knew something was wrong. Despite all the touchy feely goodness of working together toward a shared goal, the end result was stale and as mediocre as a day-old s’more, you could have aimed higher, you could have done better, you could have done more.”

Priscilla says true collaboration is not an altruistic endeavor but rather a situation in which one person doesn’t necessarily “win” - but that by working together you don’t each get a piece of the pie, but the whole pie gets bigger. She delves into the writing of her new book, and how that was a collaborative project in and of itself. 

In applying this wisdom to the market research industry, Priscilla talks about insights professionals are some of the “most deeply empathetic and most collaborative people in their own work, they are not that way when it comes to marketing.” Instead of just focusing on their own company and offerings, they could expand horizons by “looking at the world through the lens of ‘needs’ - this company over here needs this, this company over here needs this, this company over here needs this - Why don't we all get together and why don't we collaborate and why don't we then end up with a bigger win? Why do we constantly have to keep trying to go this alone?” 

In her book, Priscilla provides a framework for true collaboration that is simple to follow. The three things she says need to happen include that: each person must have something to lose and something to gain - with a vested interest in the outcome; transparency, honesty and open communication are crucial, with no hidden agendas; and alignment and a shared desire to win are essential, with a focus on mutual success. There are several finer points she discusses on the show about which collaborators need to be mindful, which are covered in more detail in the book. 

The conversation shifts to cover some current positive collaborations in the market research industry, including the cross-functional Global Data Quality Project which is composed of a team of market research associations from around the world. Priscilla also talks about how agencies collaborate with clients, including some of the tactics she uses at her own company. 

Listen to the episode for some on-the-ground tips on how to bring more collaboration into your company and your job.

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