Collaborative Networks — Envisioning a Future with Shared Value for All
Peter Drucker (hailed as the father of modern management) made a prophetic statement back in 2000, “The corporation as we know it is unlikely to survive the next 25 years. Legally and financially, yes. But not structurally and economically.”
Today, after twenty years and the emergence of a pandemic, we are beginning to understand the scale of change that we are faced with. Collectives or collaborative networks flip the script from the traditional way of doing things; we make our approach workforce-centric and inclusive.
Imagine working in a system that is inherently empathetic; one that has adopted the idea of creating shared value for all.
“I have, myself, experienced the debilitating effects the competition and hierarchical issues of the corporate world have had on my health and happiness,” says Janaa Murad, co-founder of Good Intentions, an allied London-based collaborative network for design solutions. “These things affect us all the same, especially for those of us who are more empathetic.”
“I believe the success factor behind creativity is being part of an ecosystem where multiple players are all working together,” shares Romina Manenti, founder of MAY11 Hair Oil, a one-step hair solution for the busy modern-day lifestyle. “Collaboration is the breeding ground for innovation.”
Dona Varghese, the founder of DV Media Co., managed MAY11 as a part of a collaborative effort while living in New York. The brand included a plant-based product, but the feeling the client promoted was of a community that prioritised self-love, self-care rituals and embracing sensuality; the company had been set up in a way that it was a lifestyle.
This has actually been one of the pivotal experiences that has shaped the culture of DV Media Co. today. It has also given rise to a core concept on which our collective was formed: building a collaborative and non-hierarchical working environment.
Why a collaborative network?
As a collective, we will share resources, risks and responsibilities. This is a watershed moment for purpose-driven organisations and we look forward to adopting a more conscious approach at scale.
Imagine the freedom to work independently, with the solidarity of a collective.
Janaa Murad and Paulina Kisielewska, the founders of Good Intentions, share, “The ability to understand what kind of environments are conducive for maximum creativity is key. As such, being self-aware and in tune with your own intuition is the answer.”
Allyship is an important part of our approach — instead of seeing another digital agency as competition, we view them as allies whose values align with ours.
“The creative team I worked with in Spain was truly inspirational,” Paulina tells us. “I worked with mostly women — all of whom were entrepreneurial, talented and kind. With Good Intentions, we want to move away from the concept of ‘stealing clients’ or ‘being a monopoly’. I want my friends to do well and I want us to prop each other up.”
We include varied voices and collaborate across borders.
Some of the benefits of working in a collaborative environment are that we can include a plurality of perspectives, identify errors faster and, ultimately, find suitable solutions to these problems.
With globalisation at our fingertips, we want to use collaboration as a tool to bring useful perspectives and a systems approach to generating ideas. We value possibilities, stability, challenges and connections.
In fact, we are going to be having Janaa and Paulina of Good Intentions on our podcast episode of Empty Suitcase with Armchair Flamingos this month, in which we will be discussing all things collaboration!
How does a collaborative network work?
So many components of our existence are being radically reconfigured and updated right now. Why should it be any different with our work environment?
Here is an on-demand pool of talent — a 21st century update of a digital agency, aligned by values.
We are a community of media experts who build projects together, with an emphasis on team-focused working. Collaboration helps identify the right people for a specific project; it stems from the quest to build the perfect team for each project or assignment we take on.
A collaborative environment is non-hierarchical; the team may have a leader, but they act more like a guardian of the project who makes sure the team is on track.
Join us in, both, transforming media as well as transforming the culture in which media is created.
We believe that collaborative networks represent a promising paradigm in a knowledge-driven society, and can equip us to better deal with the rapidly-evolving challenges we are faced with today as business entities, and as a society in general. As you know — change, investigation, mindfulness and purpose are at the crux of every aspect of DV Media Co.’s process and business.
Here’s a nugget we came across recently that inspired us, ‘Purpose grew out of a post-2008 belief that business needs to redefine its role and relationship with society, and that companies can be a force for good. Instead of limiting their focus on generating value for shareholders, businesses can adopt the idea of creating shared value for all.’
For instance, Mandalah is an organisation that we really admire; they describe themselves as conscious innovation partners. One global team made up of people from all walks of life who collectively value plurality as a means to amplify the perspectives through which they take on their projects.
What does DV Media Co. do?
We help sustainable brands and social enterprises craft and scale their online presence, perform market research, and find the optimal digital marketing mix based on their respective needs.
We are a group with similar interests and a global reach.
“Each individual has unique gifts, and talents and skills,” says John J. Murphy, a specialist in business transformation and author of Pulling Together: 10 Rules for High-Performance Teamwork. “When we bring them to the table and share them for a common purpose, it can give companies a real advantage.”
Digital media is an evolving organism that constantly challenges brands and consumers alike to stay on top of things. We make sure we are updated on the most cutting-edge ways to build businesses online, and working together in an ever-changing environment ensures that we view our work through an evolutionary lens.
Disruptive innovation is now a stone’s throw away.
Working together in collaborative networks triggers collaboration, debate and a sense of agility. Creativity and collaboration know no bounds — something founder of DV Media Co. Dona Varghese witnessed firsthand in New York.
“I met John Mitchell through Charles Warner, someone who taught me all about managing innovations in media,” Dona says. “It is during this class, and my time with John, I learnt that there is no end to how much people can create collectively.”
“A blank canvas, an artist, a media entrepreneur and a designer shared ideas in 2018,” she recalls. “One year later, the story of a young girl, a dress that was made in the most natural way in the heart of Auroville, India, many visits to The Met, and countless art galleries — all found a place in this painting. John used to say that a painting is a collaborative effort. People, expertise and resources from all walks of life contribute to every layer of paint on the canvas.”
Viji Joy is the founder of That Thou Art, a conscious fashion house that created the costume for the subject in the painting. She tells us, “The garment she is wearing in that painting is made of organic cotton, but it was not woven with a handloom, it was done with solar power. Handloom is labour-intensive, and production is therefore limited. This is a more natural way of doing things, and there is potential for us to scale the production of such fabrics and garments. It’s important to be able to produce large quantities sustainably.”
We are actually going to be doing a small collaboration with That Thou Art at the end of the month, as a part of which we will be going into detail on the inner workings of setting up and running a conscious fashion house.
What are some other collaborative networks we admire in India?
Collectives and collaborative networks might not be quite as popular in India yet, but they’re hardly a new concept. For instance, we admire and follow the work of Kadak Collective, a collective of South Asian women, non binary & queer folk who work with graphic storytelling, The Pind Collective, a multi-disciplinary South-Asian collaborative art space, and Zinedabaad, women of color, queer people, trans and non-binary folx making zines and finding community in resistance.
SAFER (Scientific Advisory Forum for Existential Risks) is another collaborative network, one that was formed in tacit response to the need of the hour. It consists of scientists, practitioners and systems thinkers from a range of disciplines including public health, behavioural economics, data science, systems biology and media.
“Due to the enormous complexities of 21st century medicine, clinicians, healthcare professionals, and biomedical scientists specialise in their niche subject area,” says Dr. Avijit Roy, a founding member who describes himself as ‘a scientist, entrepreneur, and dreamer in Oxford, United Kingdom’. “This distributed speciality model works well when trying to contain multimodal complexity, but it fails to predict systemic risks, and it is generally indecisive at providing overarching solutions.”
SAFER will provide policymakers with robust evidence-based scientific advice, ensuring government and non-government stakeholders have access to the most credible and updated scientific evidence to make informed, critical decisions.
“SAFER’s team is global, but our primary focus is analysing existential risks and future opportunities in India,” he continues. “SAFER is the first organisation in India to have this focus, and we have the widest global outreach.”
“Pandemics require concerted action at the earliest stage possible,” Anand Gandhi, another founding member, tells us. “Public health institutions, state governments, the private sector and the non-government organisations may often work in silos during emerging collective threats. That is why a systems think tank forum may be of great value.”
“Our interdisciplinary team provides a unique way to analyse current problems from all points of view, and assess them in a systematic manner,” says Dr. Avijit Roy. “Beyond our core team, we have access to the world’s leading minds enabling us to avoid in-group bias, and facilitate rapid deployment of our core findings.”
This brings us back to something Dona mentioned in our article on Milestones that Shaped DV Media Co’s Work Philosophy. “Envisioning the future of media is not just about imagining a preferred future,” she said. “It is about using that vision to decide what to do now, in order to move towards the preferred future.”
If you are another collective or collaborative network, drop us a line! We would love to hear from you and start a conversation.
Written by Aditi Dharmadhikari