Niwa 5 3 – Collaboration

Employee overlap

All employees must have overlap

This is a simple buddy system, where each employee have a partner they work closely with, keep up to date in more detail on ongoing work, and helps to verify and check important work before being passed on in the process.

For new hires, the buddy will be responsible for job training, and help ensure they are well integrated in the business.

For more senior employees, their buddy can be in one of the teams or functions process partners.

This nurtures a learning culture, promotes process and best practice improvement, improves documentation and reduces risk, and it enables better customer service, as more people have ready information. It also creates job flexibility, easier holiday and leave planning.

Each employee should change buddy on a 4 – 6 months basis, or as it makes sense to the team.

Leadership overlap

Managers and senior staff must have overlap with their process partners

Same principle as our employee buddy system, but the buddy must be in one of the adjacent teams or functions process partners, or in a different region.

The focus is on planning, coordination and process improvements.

Should take up ~1-2 hours per week.

This nurtures a deeper learning culture, inter- and cross-departmental process improvement and documentation, and promotes transparency and efficiency. It also creates lateral career opportunities.

Each should change on a 9 – 12 months basis.


Managers and senior staff must have an apprentice.

This is separate to the buddy system and is in place to promote career growth and deeper learning. It has a longer and more permanent arch than the buddy system.

As a senior employee, having a greater understanding of the entire value chain and cross company processes, and an option is to progress towards assistant manager. The manager will carefully select an apprentice to take on selected manager functions and have overlap with the manager in the same manner as with the buddy system.

Having apprentices is also part of the manager’s career progression, as there’s nothing you’ll learn more from than teaching others. And nurturing talent and helping other’s career growth, is an essential skill for great managers.

Likewise, senior employees will select junior apprentices to include in their work, cross functional collaboration, and bring them towards a more senior role.

Same as with the buddy system, it instills company values, makes us better at onboarding new staff, and creates a culture where everybody is lifting and pulling others with them.


Organisations should make an effort to offer internships; on graduate, bachelor and masters level. Working with schools and universities in all the countries where they operate.

It is part of a business’s commitment to support learning.

It is great exposure for us to attract and evaluate talent.

It is a learning opportunity for the company as well.

  • keep in mind that;
    • Interns are not a means to get 3-6 months of free labor.
    • There must be a clear objective and outcome from the internship, in coordination with their School.
    • Only take on interns when there is bandwidth to properly take care of them.

This also creates additional opportunities for those senior employees, who are not interested in more management related job content, to make their experience and knowledge valuable for others.


Must be open, transparent, constructive and inclusive.

Communication should move the conversation forward, so that every interaction with each other, our customers and partners, is valuable.

All messages have a sender and receiver(s).

Those with information that benefit others, have a responsibility to share it in a timely manner. The sender has a responsibility to ensure the message has been received and can be understood as intended.

Those who need information have a responsibility to request it, and has an equal responsibility to verify it has been well received and understood as intended.


We must preload meetings and interactions, enabling everyone to be well prepared, and able to focus on solutions and adding value.


Means we recognize that how we use our time, and how we work as a team is important, as is our own contribution, and others rely on our status updates and information.

So we continuously keep our central collaboration tool updated in a timely manner, and we share agendas, information and ideas ahead of meetings.

We clarify what we need from others, when we need it and for what purpose. We are clear on the activities, goals and objectives it lead towards.

Preloading should not replace time spend together in person, but rather increase the quality and effectiveness of that time.

Communication is personal, and we should engage with each other as directly as possible. Part of having a natural overlap, means walking over and sitting next to each other, use video call as much as possible when working with people in other physical locations; and always updating our collaboration system, so the rest of the team is updated.

In return, little time will be spend writing internal status reports. The collaboration tool is the up to date status.


Which Teams, Logical Units and Efforts, and what part of the value chain are we talking about?

Meeting invites will have link to the components; which have up to date information because they are designed to capture operational metrics, collaborative notes, ideas, statuses, issues, complaints, etc.

Everybody can prepare for the meeting on the same set of information. With the healthy habit of preloading all meetings and Efforts.

All Cultural elements, interactions, governing principles, suppliers and customers are clearly evident.

OCEIF overlay. Which also clearly shows who should be in the meeting.

Meetings can be within and independently in the Team/Effort/Logical Unit, while as always considering and including the wider value chain.

And/or it can include the coaching/mentoring resources they need to successfully move forward.

Change Management

Change is, and should be, an ongoing and normal part of our creative, collaborative efforts to bring the best products, services and value to our customers. And to be a healthy and respected contributor to the communities and cultures we are part of.

Change must be natural, normal and welcomed by everyone involved and impacted by the efforts we make. And – change should majorly be initiated and driven by those running the processes and independent work on a daily basis.

Made possible by transparency of goals and strategies, freely available information and support from their foundation – the coaches and mentors from management, guiding the company.

Larger and more transformative changes are likewise easier to conceptualise, plan and execute when the combined knowledge of the whole organisation can be activated.

External expertise can be brought in to augment the talent and experience, rather than spending valuable time and resources analysing and explaining to the organisation what it already knows and lives every day.

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