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The Multiplier Effect of Great Collaborations

Survival in business requires a synergy of skills.
– Richard Branson

Some weeks ago, I shared the 4 styles of collaborators – the Prime Mover, the Seeker, the Catalyst, and the Amplifier. The thing to note about these styles, is that while we may naturally belong to one type, we can consciously shift styles, say, if we need to complement the style of someone we are working with.

I was a Prime Mover – many years ago. It’s a great archetype for some, but as I took on more and more responsibilities in our firm, I began to see the need to adapt.

My Prime Mover instinct to lead from the front, and take hard stands on certain matters, would not gel well in the initial, pilot phase of our design work. It was alienating for my design colleagues, and for some of my clients.

And two Prime Movers trying to work together? Let me tell you, that is the equivalent of a gladiator fight!

The collaboration of two Amplifiers, on the other hand, is like a ballet – the relationship is smooth-flowing and mutually enhancing. Today, I actively aim to be an Amplifier – I believe I’m mostly there. My running, reading, even this blog, are all ways to be mindful of my actions and thoughts to stay on that path.

Three clients come to my mind to illustrate this, and I find it significant that they are all industry-leaders. It is my belief that their collaboration cultures have helped them achieve the heights they are at.

  • Axis Bank – among India’s top private banks
  • ICBC, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China – the largest bank in the world today
  • Brookfield Asset Management – a global leader in asset management across over 30 countries

Our relationship with Axis thrives on their trust abundance. They trust us to take onus to such an extent that, for our last several projects, the real-estate leadership team only visits their sites in very advanced stages. On a lighter note, the number of site visits a client makes is sure-fire cue to their collaborative mode. Of course, there is added responsibility on us in the face of such trust, to track and drive our progress independently, and to not become complacent. After over 200 assignments across 14 years, we thrive on it! Thank you, Axis Bank.  

With ICBC, the comfort of the relationship showed itself in an amusing way – we stopped needing an interpreter with our Chinese client team! In 2013, ICBC was just entering India, and reviewing other firms for the job as well. Of course, there were drawings and presentation aids, but the fact that we could literally bypass our interpreter, indicated a deeper match in mindsets that worked for both of us. Thank you, ICBC.

With Brookfield, we were intuitively guessing requirements the client had not expressed in the brief, and our suggestions were almost always invariably accepted. To rise to the tremendous faith they showed in us, we set ourselves the challenge to better their flagship Manhattan office. Thank you, Brookfield.

A key characteristic of collaborations between Amplifiers is that they better each other’s standards. Another is the way costing is dealt with. Cost discussions amongst Amplifiers are always a two-way conversation toward a common optimal good, rather than a negotiation between egos. They take leaps of faith in trusting us on our costing and specifications expertise.

In summary, my dream-client is a fellow-Amplifier – despite the added thrust I feel upon us to excel. Because the multiplier effect our styles have on each other, eventually reflects in some of the best work our team has produced.

Life’s good! God’s kind!

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