Collaboration Fuels Mutual Growth

Playing to win and playing to grow have undeniably become some of the most fast-paced, high-stakes, strategic games in business. CEOs, as well as political leaders, have had to "re-up" their game, changing the way they play and how they define their teams. The game cuts across traditional company boundaries and political geographies. Mutualism is the unspoken word of the day, and our interdependencies have become irrefutable.

So said President Obama in a recent United Nations speech, noting "we live in an integrated world--one in which we all have a stake in each other's success, and we cannot turn those forces back." We can certainly see this play out on a global scale with the best success coming from those who participate in the global economy. Those are the countries that have alleviated poverty, moving populations up the economic ladder.

The world's most knowledgeable CEOs have recognized this as well--not only in terms of their own economies' interdependencies, but also in terms of their companies' mutually beneficial relationships. Primary examples are clear in global entities such as P&G and Nestlé, companies whose products are so mighty that the necessity of their global supply chains leads to cross-border trade from the sheer magnitude of their growth.

P&G and Nestlé are adept at growth and as a result enjoy some of the highest market caps globally. Their leaders understand their own interdependencies relating to growth as well as those same interdependencies externally.

The magnitude and results of these large organizations' collaborative efforts are undeniable. But they aren't pursuing such a path without the end game in mind. They clearly recognize the benefits of collaboration, including the development of better ideas (creativity), greater expertise and increased access to resources. All of which often results in reducing risk and enhancing growth.

Playing to Grow

P&G also has relied on a collaborative model for new product development, gaining successes from a standardized growth system designed to yield "breakthrough innovations ... as reliably as Ford's factory had rolled out Model Ts," explains CTO Bruce Brown in the Harvard Business Review. According to P&G's chairman, the company's leadership adopted an open innovation system, understanding that to grow, the company needed to work with others to co-create. So leadership invited consumers and external idea generators, as well as company science and marketing teams to co-create. Then the company put processes around this new form of product innovation to institute a process for replicating great ideas that fuel growth. In so doing, P&G has significantly increased its scope and efficiency and tripled the innovation success rate. Even a company of this size has leaders who smartly realize the interdependencies, external and internal, that need to be set for mutual gain.

Nestlé, the world's largest food company, notes Fortune, is not only a success story--its leaders foster mutually beneficial relationships as part of the corporate DNA. With a "sharing is winning" philosophy, they understand how mutual, real-world interdependencies can facilitate growth, notes the Financial Times. In addition to growing a global partnership network, Nestlé has tactically embraced innovation hubs to stimulate mutually beneficial relationships and accelerate interdependencies. The company's "sharing is winning" philosophy recognizes that through partnerships, everybody benefits.

Each company has its own approach to fuel growth; but each understands that mutuality and interdependence are key.

What's Your Growth Engine?

At P&G, Nestlé and Tetra Pak, we have strong growth stories and defined growth engines that are culturally engrained and understood. We have gotten there by clarifying how, when, where and who plays to win. The "who" and "how" side of the equation have taken on greater meaning as we understand that we all have a stake in each others' success.

At Tetra Pak, we are helping our customers with their growth stories. A powerful example of this is the introduction of our modular Marketing Services program. Through this offering, we help customers with new product efforts, serving as skilled and nimble moderators to guide our partners through a fast-track innovation process centered on the individual brand's unique realities. Marketing Services is a way for customers to benefit from creative thinking from outside their organizations and value chain expertise gathered over many years. Ultimately, Marketing Services can assist from idea generation to product launch, driving to reduce customers' risk and increase success.

Growth can be elusive, as evidenced by countless stock misses. In today's world, the best growth strategy may well be achieved by fueling mutual growth. As noted psychologist Abraham Maslow once said: "You will either step forward into growth, or you will step back into safety."