A warm summer afternoon in August saw a group of global collaboration experts come together in their London office, to develop and mature both themselves and their practice.

Along the banks of a ‘timeline river’ dressed up to span the 20th and 21st centuries, camped collaboration practitioners, split into groups of different time periods. Their mandate was to think about how events from each of these periods accumulated into decisions and outcomes that often transcended into trends – sometimes wittingly, sometimes not.

The grand problem was for these eras to then mix homogenously into new groups, to collectively extrapolate those earlier observations into the future and determine what it meant for this group of collaborators. Each group had varied experiences to talk about, different problem statements to think about and share with one another.

The group that I chose (1930s- 1945) concluded that ‘out of chaos emerged global solutions in response to global problems’. Whether this was new technology breakthroughs such as the wider availability of radio and television, or the formation of the United Nations in response to the last World War – it became clear that the world had shrunk. Distance was not a barrier or insulator anymore to contain local problems. The battle for defining physical borders had evolved into the battle for the mind. Global products and services now dominate this new battleground.

The objectives of collaboration have changed. The tools of battle had traded themselves in for more sophisticated ones that transcend geographies – the collective genius across borders. As long as groups of people have a mechanism to think and respond collectively, they could respond effectively to the problems posed at a global level.

I believe global problems have a way of disenfranchising local solutions. For example, maintaining our ecological balance cannot be solved at a local level, while ignored or even catalysed by others – we need to collectively respond to this or similar problems posed, if we want life-saving, future-proofing solutions.

What models exists to allow the world to collectively think and respond to global opportunities and challenges? Do we have a common language that can transcend cultural and geographical barriers with these solutions?

As collaboration practitioners residing globally we have the unique opportunity to collectively switch this capability on for our global clients. If they are ready, I believe, so are we.