Collaboration--or lack of it--can determine whether an enterprise survives or fails, William Bratton told an audience at the Inc. Leadership Forum in Miami.
New York City police commissioner William Bratton
Consider this: Four uniformed Cuban military officers land a gunboat in Key West and spend hours wandering around town in search of someone to defect to. The Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine--who do not share information or even use the same terminology--don't notice.
Also consider: DARPA tests the efficacy of the Internet by offering $40,000 to the team that first locates 10 balloons launched at different locations around the country. A single hacker who assembles a group of 50,000 people online at the last minute nearly beats out a team from MIT.
Collaboration--or lack of it--can determine whether an enterprise survives or fails, William Bratton told an audience at the Inc. Leadership Forum in Miami. Drawing on his own experiences turning around the crime-plagued New York City and Los Angeles Police Departments, Bratton--now chairman of Kroll Advisory Systems and author of the book Collaborate or Perish--described the eight points of preparedness for working together in a networked world.
Vision: Collaboration begins with one or more leaders and a shared idea. In New York City, Bratton and then-Mayor Rudolph Guiliani both believed in making and keeping the city safe.
Rightsize the problem: Uanable to tackle New York's crime problem in all its enormity, Bratton attacked manageable quality of life issues such as fare-jumping in the subways. One of seven evaders had other crimes on their records; one in 21 were armed (occasionally with uzis) and intent on committing other crimes. Those successes created a tipping point.
Create a platform: Collaborators need a platform to share information. Compstat, the system of exhaustive crime statistic reporting, and conversations with enforcement officers at all levels in one room did that job.
Make it pay for everyone: New York's cops, citizens, businesses, politicians--even the media--all rallied around the idea of a safer city, where people were no longer afraid and business, investment and tourism flourished.
Have the right people with you: When Bratton took over in New York he replaced six out of seven top officers--who in his mind had overseen years of failure--with newer, mostly younger officers more optimistic and open to trying new things.
Deliver on performance: Bratton and his officers developed stretch goals for crime reduction and tracked them religiously, almost in real time, deterimining appropriate tactics as they went.
Find your political support: In New York, Bratton and Mayor Guilliani didn't get along, and Bratton was out in two years. He did not repeat that mistake. In Los Angeles, "I married my mayors," he said. "You couldn't see daylight between us."
Have passion and a playbook: Bratton also described one his failures. In the late '90s he was bought out of his position as head of a small Long Island company. "I was a total failure and the reason was me. I had no passion for that business," said Bratton. "I had to get off the bus."
LEIGH BUCHANAN is an editor at large for Inc. magazine. A former editor at Harvard Business Review and founding editor of WebMaster magazine, she writes regular columns on leadership and workplace culture. @LeighEBuchanan