In some circumstances, “collective clarity” may be a synonym for alignment, but in others it is an entirely different beast.

 Currently I am involved in a project that aims to bring together a small group of specialist growers and retailers into a collaborative framework that delivers fresh Sydney basin produce to consumers, and contributes to the building of a brand. “Sydney Harvest“, if successful in pilot, offers the opportunity for commercial sustainability to both Sydney basin farmers and specialist retailers. In the process of developing this project, which seeks to  re-engineer the supply chain in response to the economy wide trends that are placing huge pressure on the viability of agriculture in urban proximity, the differences have become stark.

Alignment is typically sought inside a commercial entity, all employees, and stakeholders having a clear understanding of the enterprises direction, priorities, and resources availabilities so each can see the bigger picture, beyond just their area of operation, and act accordingly.

Collective clarity, by contrast, is a term I have started to use to describe the necessity of having a common view of the end point of a collaborative project amongst all collaborators, as well as of the key project collaborative points along the way. This is external to any of the individual enterprises.

By its nature, a collaboration is not subject to the  same management thinking that prevails in commercial enterprises, as collaborators are all independent, and sometimes competitive businesses. It therefore requires that they all recognize that their individual best interests are  best served by serving the best interests of the collaboration, a big ask.

This Collective clarity is required amongst collaborators for a successful collaboration, alignment as commonly articulated as being internal, is not.

Each individual business will still  be managed independently, in their own way. The processes that impact on the collective operations will usually be only a small part of the overall, and so will often require a different perspective, and explicit management, and leadership to be effective.

I would welcome feedback on this idea, as I have not seen it articulated before.