It’s Time to Stop Seeing Collaboration as a Human Problem

Collaboration is a fundamental element of success in family office environments, where multidisciplinary teams work together to deliver excellence to their clients.

However, while the importance of collaboration is widely acknowledged, the formula for achieving it has remained elusive. In the author's view, the challenge lies in technology that often disrupts collaboration by funneling professionals into siloed practices, leading to data gaps and information silos. iPaladin, a knowledge blockchain platform, bridges this gap by providing a secure space for capturing, sharing, and evolving operational knowledge, enabling wealth holders and advisors to streamline workflows, reduce data chasing, and focus on value maximization, ultimately making collaboration a technology-driven solution rather than a human-to-human challenge.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

One of my favorite quotes is this simple yet powerful view of collaboration's role in unlocking teams. Attributed to Henry Ford, it is as true today as it was when the Model T was first launched. And nowhere is it more apt than in a family office environment where multidisciplinary teams must rely on each other to deliver excellence to their families.

But while the benefits of collaboration are almost universally acknowledged, the formula for achieving it isn’t. It’s a question that occupies the minds of business leaders, management thinkers, and academics worldwide. Books have been written on it, corporate case studies have been studied, and different approaches have been tried, tested, and tried again.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review suggested that organizations have historically approached the topic of collaboration “too narrowly” - seeing it as a value to cultivate rather than a skill to teach. But I believe the problem goes deeper.

Collaboration is often incorrectly seen as an issue of human-to-human communication. For example, the HBR article outlines six training techniques to help cultivate a collaborative workplace: 1) Listen, not talk; (2) practice empathy; (3) be comfortable giving and receiving feedback; (4) lead and follow; (5) speak with clarity and avoid abstractions; and (6) have win-win interactions.

These are all value-added activities, but a better way to frame the collaboration challenge is to see it as less a human-to-human issue and more a problem of technology.  

In my recent article, Create to Collaborate, I described collaboration as an “innate human skill” - a skill we’ve relied on for millennia to solve complex problems, build mutual understanding, and reach common goals. There is nothing more human than working together to achieve success.

Yet, in recent years, our ability to collaborate effectively has been slowly eroded by technology that funnels us into siloed practices rather than allowing us to work together more effectively.

This is a challenge for knowledge workers everywhere, but nowhere is it more acute than in a family office where disparate teams of professionals rely on each other to deliver great work.

These top-shelf professionals are hired for their excellence in their respective fields, but they often rely on their own processes, approaches, and technology to deliver them. A divergence in technology can lead to the emergence of data gaps and information silos while also making it harder for multidisciplinary teams to work together and collaborate. This is something we refer to as friction. Even a conservative estimate of its impact on a family office suggests it could be equivalent to around 10-20 percent of total staffing costs.

But the problem is not the people; it’s the process. Rather than liberating workloads, technology is adding to the problem, disrupting them for the worse and not the better.

That’s why I believe the family office ecosystem requires a new layer - a platform that bridges the functional excellence of teams to create holistic excellence for the family and all professionals. Operational knowledge can be captured, shared, and evolved at this collaboration level in a single, secure space. This allows wealth holders and their advisors to work together to develop workflows and processes that reduce the need for “data chasing,” instead freeing up time and resources to focus on value maximization.

On iPaladin, any type of data can be normalized, categorized, and then recorded. With fully customizable templates and an intuitive design framework that records information as knowledge, our common workspace overcomes information silos. It provides users with a single source of truth from which to make decisions.

Our business is driven by a belief that collaboration can be unlocked if technology takes on the burden rather than becomes the burden. Collaboration between humans has never been the challenge; we must stop thinking it is – collaboration is a technology problem. 

Credit - Jill Creager - President & CEO iPaladin

Download PDF
"iPaladin is way more than a project management software. It really has changed everything for the better."

2022, Brad S., MFO Founder/CEO

"When we started using iPaladin we actually found a handful of errors that the previous teams didn't catch."

2022, Susan L., Principal Accounting Advisor

"Our team loves the way the system is designed. It's really simple and not overly decorative, it's straightforward and familiar."

2021, Tebbi P., SFO Office Leader

"iPaladin is way more than a project management software. It really has changed everything for the better."

2019, Scott W. SFO Executive

"iPaladin has helped us automate our everyday work and we've gained about 30-40% more time because everyone is on the same page from the beginning."

2021, James K., Partner MFO Business Leader