In the words of auto maker Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
I am grateful that I get to work for an organization where one of its guiding principles is to promote collaboration throughout the cereals value chain.
In a diverse industry like cereal grains, there are bound to be differences of opinion, values and agendas.
Yet on numerous occasions, I have seen people put personal opinions aside to benefit the whole. Reflection on this process can be as important as the actual collaboration itself. Especially since it is a time when the cereals industry is facing corporate mergers, renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a new Canadian Food Guide, new grain transportation legislation and growing protectionism in key markets.
It is important to keep in mind what defines success, and what we can think about during our next opportunity to work together.
I believe future collaborative successes might include an environment focused on alignment, removing roadblocks and increasing productivity.
This can be achieved if each individual and organization is accountable, organized, motivated, en-gaged and focused on achieving the best result for the industry as a whole.
This does not mean that you have to agree with everyone all the time, but it does mean that you have to listen to the ideas of others.
Just as it is important to listen, it is equally as important to check that what we are sharing has value.
Sometimes, it is easy to get off track on issues we are passionate about. It is important to make sure that the ideas we bring forward offer insights and value, and are not just aimed at winning an argument or supporting our personal philosophical outlook.
Communicating clearly is a major part of the success of any collaborative process.
It is also important to note that not all collaborative processes can be successful. If the goal isn’t right, or the collaborative group is not individually ready to communicate together, then the collaboration has already failed.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It can allow us to rethink our goals and make sure that we have the right people around the table.
There are numerous producer and industry organizations serving the grain industry.
The whole industry will benefit if all of us can step out of our silos to co-operate on issues like market development, food safety, promoting international trade, sus-tainability and public trust, and many more.
I don’t think we serve our members well if we isolate ourselves within individual organizations.
As well, we need to recognize that effective collaboration sometimes requires compromise.
As my Henry Ford quote indicates, it is not just about getting people together, it really is about having a motivated and diverse group of people, who are willing to work together on behalf of everyone.
Brenna Mahoney is director of communication with Cereals Canada.