Canadian Poultry Magazine

The true value of collaboration

By Crystal Mackay   

Features Emerging Trends

Collaboration can have a transformative impact and strategic significance in both your work and personal lives. Here's how.

“At a time when human resources, time, and money are all at a premium, we need to continue to think smarter to achieve bigger results.” PHOTO: ADOBE STOCK

The term collaboration shows up in many places such as strategic plans, vision statements, and media soundbites. But what does it really mean and how would you put collaboration to work on the job or in life?

Early lessons in group dynamics
Let’s flashback to our first experiences with collaboration – group projects at school. Do you remember those? These could be very painful exercises in frustration or incredibly fruitful depending on the individuals in the group. From a young age, I learned the value of group dynamics, and how it was easier to work with some people than others. 

Challenges in a competitive supply chain
Fast forward to our world today. The issues and opportunities for individuals, organizations, the poultry sector, and the entire food system are so immense it’s almost impossible to fathom how to successfully navigate them on our own. At a time when human resources, time, and money are all at a premium, we need to continue to think smarter to achieve bigger results.


Breaking the mold
Enter the term and need for collaboration. It’s easier said than done, as the supply chain was built for competition, not collaboration. Collaboration requires leadership and strategic intent to make it happen. It is often much easier and faster to work on your own plans and work, particularly at the beginning.

Collaboration’s worth
So why is collaboration worth the extra effort? Evidence clearly shows that efforts that work collaboratively lead to greater resources, recognition, and rewards, particularly when facing competition for finite resources. Let me share a few examples.

Case studies in collaborative success
I’m a hard-wired collaborator. I identified the need for a whole food system approach to earning public trust in food and farming in my Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program project many years ago. 

One farmer, one company, or even single sector voices were too tiny and fragmented at a time when the rural-urban gap was growing and pressures against production practices were mounting.

Birth of collaborative initiative
The same collaborative spirit went into creating the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI). The United States food companies and farm groups formed the US Center for Food Integrity in 2007. 

Could we not learn from their investment, research, and model and use it to research Canadian attitudes on public trust in food? After three years of thinking, discussing, and development with many stakeholders, the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity was launched in 2016 with a whole food system approach.

Shifting mindsets
Fierce competitors in the marketplace come together to invest and learn around the same tables with the pre-competitive spirit of collaboration needed for leadership and shared goals. 

I recall in some of those early meetings a few individuals shared they had never been in a room with their competitors and customers and government representatives having such open discussions before.

Reflections and future horizons
These are just two examples of many that demonstrate collaboration takes work. It takes strategic intent and sometimes a mindset shift, for individuals and organizations. Where competition focuses on individual achievement, collaboration emphasizes teamwork and collective success.

Unleashing the power of collaboration
Take a minute and review your efforts. Where and how do you spend your time working? Review it with the collaboration lens – is there anything you could do better and bigger together? 

Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself and think outside your normal borders and partners. In addition to the greater achievements, you might also find some more positive energy and fun as unexpected bonuses we can all appreciate and benefit from!  

Crystal Mackay is the CEO of Loft32, a company she co-founded with the goal to help elevate people, businesses and the conversations on food and farming. Visit for more information and to register for upcoming events.

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