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PREFACE - The Culture of Collaboration

Before the BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle rolled off the Spartan­burg, South Carolina production line in September of 1999, the automaker’s standard time to market was sixty months. But this new vehicle had defied the standard. Thirty five months earlier, the X5 was nothing more than a concept. BMW had slashed time to market almost in half. What had changed? 

The X5 was the first BMW vehicle completely developed and produced through telecooperation. BMW defined telecooperation as technology-supported collaboration and communication allowing globally-distributed teams to design and produce a product. Also, the automaker was moving from a “sequential” to a “parallel” devel­opment process in which the second phase of design begins before the first phase ends.

The changing economics of the automobile industry required faster concept-to-delivery, and BMW determined that telecoopera­tion was the best way to achieve that goal. The company wisely real­ized that the shift was about much more than tools and systems. BMW anticipated that telecooperation would change the nature of work and the culture of its organization. Therefore, savvy leaders developed ways to integrate telecooperation into every business unit, function, and partner organization.

During the last several hectic months before the X5 launch, BMW invited me to visit its design center in Munich. There a spark flew that ignited the idea for this book. BMW’s experience was an early manifestation of a phenomenon that is now pervading organizations of all kinds. The phenomenon is the Culture of Col­laboration.

Globalization has created opportunities to maximize time, tal­ent and tools. Realizing these opportunities, however, requires a cultural shift. This book examines the role of culture in collaborat­ing, provides a look inside leading enterprises in multiple indus­tries that create value through the Culture of Collaboration, and offers a framework for making teams and organizations collaboration-friendly.