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Collaborative working is much more than teamwork

Updated: Aug 3, 2021

By Robert Walterson

We are excited to begin this new chapter in the life of ICW. ICW was born in the United Kingdom (UK) out of the recognised need for increased collaborative working practices within Government and Industry. ICW Australia is looking forward to bringing these capabilities to Australian organisations when we officially launch on the 31st August 2021!

ICW Australia's goal is to become the premier organisation supporting the development and growth of collaborative working practices domestically and globally. So what do we mean by ‘collaborative working’?

As a formal business practice, collaborative working, and collaborative enterprises (in the way we understand them today) can be traced back to as early as the 16th century with joint-stock companies. Traditionally the challenge for collaborative working has been to manage the underpinning relationships which historically were personal rather than being sustainably embedded in organisations.

The ICW was formerly known as Partnership Sourcing and was established in 1990 as a joint initiative between the then Department of Trade and Industry DTI (now BEIS - Business Energy and Industrial Strategy) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Its purpose was to promote and encourage collaborative working. The organisation was formally renamed the ICW in 2012 to reflect the growing recognition of collaborative working and the need to support the development of the skills required to harness the benefits of these approaches... The rest, they say, is history.

So what is collaborative working? The formal definition is ‘people working jointly on an activity or project to achieve a common goal. Especially where it involves co-operation between several teams, departments and/or different organisations to achieve an agreed objective.’ In short- people working together to achieve a common goal. This is a practice which spans multiple disciplines and utilises many insights from them: From law and relational contracting, to finance and ‘gain share- pain share’ cost modelling. From business management and organisational design, to psychology and motivational stimuli. Every discipline has an insight which can contribute to the overall ‘holistic’ understanding of collaborative working and a collaborative relationship.

For ICW, we align our understanding of effective collaborative working to the international standard for Collaborative working- ISO44001. This understanding is guided by another international standard, ISO44000, which lays out 12 principles for implementing a successful collaborative relationship. These are as follows:

The 12 principles have developed over years of formulating, testing, refining, and understanding collaborative working best-practices. Whether it is a joint-stock company from the 16th century, or a Public-Private Partnership from the 21st century, these principles continue to offer insight and guidance in implementing collaborative working practices and harnessing their benefits. In our later blogs, we will discuss each of these 12 principles-what they are, how they contribute to collaborative working, and some tips on best-practice.

We hope to continue this history with the launch of ICW Australia and passing on the received knowledge and principles learned over time. Join us next time where we will introduce some of the experts in this field and provide an overview of their own history with collaborative working.

More information

For more information, contact ICW Australia at or visit:

ICW Australia Official Launch

The official launch of ICW Australia is taking place via webinar on 31st August 2021 3.00pm-4.00pm AEST. Attend to learn more about the real world benefits to government and business in Australia and globally of the adoption of Collaborative Working

principals and the ISO 44001 family of standards. You will also hear about the aims and

activities of ICW Australia.

To register to attend, go to:

Referencing & Acknowledgements.

Much of the history and the table of 12 principles has been extracted from the ICW document “Insight into ISO 44001 Meeting the challenges of the 21st Century - the next evolution in collaborative working”. We are grateful to the authors for providing such a rich history and concise exposition of principles. If you are reading this, we are also grateful to you. We hope you have gained some valuable knowledge, and look forward to continuing this journey through collaborative working with you.

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