Collaboration is a skill, and a lesson, that pervades both our personal and professional lives. Mentoring co-workers, building fluid, expert product teams, and working on solutions shoulder-to-shoulder with our clients. These are essential, highly valuable skills in the consulting space. But these aren’t abilities that appear from the ether – we learn them in our day-to-day lives.
At NTT DATA UK&I, we want to foster a culture where individuals have the support of their frontline workers, the respect of their peers, and the backing of their leadership teams. And when we’re searching for people who fit that ideal mould, we’re looking at people who know what collaboration means outside of the workplace, as well as within it.
Sometimes, the most important aspects of teamwork are highlighted by first-hand experience, as we discovered when joining our good friend and colleague Gareth Lyon for one leg of his Great Tour of Britain.
Experiencing an odyssey
Gareth recently completed his Great Tour in support of Prostate Cancer UK, by cycling the coastline of Great Britain. A 4,100-mile odyssey, it took him from the rainy highlands of remote Scotland to the warmer climes of the south coast. He crossed the finishing line a stronger, and undoubtedly more tired, man.
Cycling, fundamentally, is a solo exercise. Only your legs can pump the pedals and only you can keep your head up, mile after mile. But just because they can’t make the bike move for you, doesn’t mean that your friends and colleagues can’t keep you moving. That support is crucial – both in business and in our other endeavours.
The sheer endurance, mental fortitude and stamina required for such a feat, only became clear to us when we had to walk – or cycle – a mile in Gareth’s shoes. We joined Gareth for just one day of cycling – only 30 miles, in fact. That’s all it took to help us internalise what Gareth was going through, leaving us sore and tired and newly appreciative of his challenge. But Gareth regularly cycled 100-mile days.
Collaboration can help us scale the tallest walls and the most arduous challenges. A single person can falter, or have a bad day, but with the force and support of a team at their backs, nothing can stop them from moving forward.
The personal and the collective
Collective challenges aren’t experienced the same way by any two people. Our personal circumstances, our perceptions, and our knowledge colour them in different shades. That’s why, as an outsider, it’s vital to experience these widespread issues from an individual angle, rather than just a bird’s-eye view.
That’s the philosophy that underpins our relationships with our clients. We believe in integration and support; not assumptions and one-size-fits-all approaches. This can be mapped onto many other aspects of life, but particularly onto our working relationships. We may think that we understand an issue – or something that a colleague is going through – but until we connect personally, it’s impossible to truly appreciate what’s going on.
Clients, partners, friends
The line between a client, a partner, and a friend can be hard to strictly define. At NTT DATA UK&I, our collaborative approach mirrors the importance we place on working closely with our partners – showing that a personal relationship can augment the business one, and vice versa.
During Gareth’s cycling journey, he - like our partners - was the main hero, but he didn’t have to be alone in his efforts. Indeed, having spoken to him at length, we discovered that the hardest parts of his journey weren’t necessarily the cold days, the wind and the ice, or the blazing heat and sunshine, but the days when nobody was around to guide him or keep him company.
Throughout his journey, Gareth was joined by 30 friends, family, colleagues, and clients, and had the support and experience of his team members too who helped to guide his journey. Over the seven weeks of his journey, he leaned on this knowledge to improve the quality of his journey and make it more manageable.
We can use this story to consider our relationship with our clients. By guiding them with our industry knowledge and expertise, we can band together to work towards a common goal – making the uphill days a little less steep. This creates a long-lasting and secure relationship between the both of us. We don’t see our work as purely a transactional service for our clients but as a foundation for a better future for all.
Joined by clients or former clients from Virgin Media, VMO2, BT, and Three, at various stages of the ride, Gareth showed that his connection with clients transcends pure business. When our partners know that we have their back, and they have ours, we can achieve together what neither of us could accomplish alone.
When looking at the other charitable events that NTT DATA UK&I has been involved in this year, like Street Child’s Big Ride in Switzerland or the continued evolution of The City Gives Back project to help vulnerable families in the heart of the city, it’s clear to see a commitment to partnerships. But most importantly, giving support to those most in need of it.
When we come together to support others, we’re building a lasting connection that will allow us to be more than the sum of our parts. And that’s just as true for business relationships as it is for personal ones.
If you would like to discover how we can collaborate with you, get in touch today.