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Collaboration conundrums

This week I have been pondering collaboration. As an academic, collaboration is natural. It is the foundation of my best work as a chemist and nowadays as an energy business and policy specialist.

My mulling is all in the context of thinking a couple of years ahead. I'm trying to picture what my portfolio could look like and whom I might be working with and for.

I'd like collaboration to be a component of my non-academic work as well. It is already a component of my advisory, challenge and Non-Executive Director roles. I'd also like it to be an ongoing part of my consultancy work, partly because projects where I have been part of a (small) team have been impactful and fun.

I've been thinking about the options to get involved in larger projects for a solo artist like myself. So, for example, bidding for a substantial piece of work that requires a range of skills. I see several options:

Build a team through my network - after all I know lots of people in the same situation as me. Even more after the fabulous response to my previous blog. Clearly most tenders will require a lead contractor and so someone will have to take the lead and risk on sub-contracts.

Work with a larger organisation, such as an established consultancy - this is something I have done in the past and am exploring now, including options like becoming an associate or affiliate.

Join a formal network of people like myself - this is the option I'm least aware of. I know it is quite common elsewhere, for example in training and coaching. I'm wondering if others in my network have experience of such networks? I feel like it could be an interesting option, where aspects like bidding and (sub-)contracting could be administered centrally with agreed fees, etc. I imagine it is route where interesting, different and possibly bonkers groups could be brought together to deliver something with bags of personality and value. Do such networks exist and if so, does anyone have recommendations?

Of course, there might be other options. I'm still relatively new to this world. Any thoughts and advice greatly appreciated!

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