Is the role of Chief Collaboration Officer within enterprises and on the startup Verizon?

By Rose Ross, Chief Trailblazer and founder of the Tech Trailblazers

Shameless pun, but you have to name a blog post something, right?

I was recently honoured to be part of an exciting new type of event spearheaded by Verizon in London. Keith Povey from Verizon had come up with the concept of the ChamberBreakers – a way to get out of the echo chamber that occurs when in a group of people with very common experience, outlooks and views.

The ChamberBreakers event

Two speakers stand in a half circle of chairs and explore a particular theme within a pretty strict time limit of 5 minutes per speaker with extra time for Q and A sessions after each topic is explored. There is no death by Powerpoint!


I took the stage with Audrius Rutkauskas from Growth Enabler, an exciting startup which is bridging the gap between other startups and large enterprises, all underpinned by AI (clever stuff!). It felt to me like the start-up equivalent of an unplugged session – very intimate and full of raw unedited content and energy.

Audrius and I had the task of exploring the theme “”How do enterprise and start-ups best co-exist…”.

I really enjoyed exploring this topic with the crowd present. Audrius and I had had a chance to brainstorm what we felt was important to share in the small time slot allowed and so I focused on a few things. My main bugbear was actually the title. I don’t want to know how enterprise and start-ups can co-exist. I want to know how they can collaborate. Why is very simple. Co-exist indicates, to me anyway, tolerance and tolerance could lead to missing huge opportunities for both parties. Enterprise needs innovation and start-ups need cash and resources – both can benefit greatly when collaboration works but for the nimble and agile lean start-up to work work well with big business, it needs championing on the inside,an ambassador for the start-up within the enterprise .to help them navigate the organisation and help make big business process and procedures more start-up friendly. It was when talking about that role the title of Chief Collaboration Officer popped up in my head. A true lightbulb moment. The CCO is not a totally new term, but new in the context of innovation and start-up collaboration.


I focused on some of the key elements needed for successful collaboration. I shared five or six of the top ten tips I found in a blog post by tech startup BLRT  on the topic. And, as a start-up which has a collaboration tool, I think they know their way around the topic. The original blog post is here and is worth a read I’ve summarised the key elements in start-up and enterprise collaboration that I focused on

So, from Blrt’s ‘ten basic rules for reaching the Nirvana state of successful collaboration’ I focused on these:

  1. Clear objectives – an obvious one, but I find sometimes the most important elements are the ones that can be taken as a given and therefore their importance potentially overlooked. But I’d add common, clear objectives. Collaboration is always best when the objectives are shared and I quite like the idea of “drawing up a collaboration charter will ensure up-front agreement between stakeholders and also provide a point of reference if things go off the rails.”
  2. Right people, defined roles – this is key for any successful project or endeavour and part of the trigger for the Chief Collaboration Officer role. Without a fully empowered and influential start-up ambassador the start-up will probably end up frustrated and not able to achieve full potential for both parties.
  3. Accountability and commitment – again key components of any successful partnership. The fact that everyone is in the project, heart and soul, and that there is a clear point where the buck stops.
  4. Trust and respect – I have always been a big fan of trust first and see where it leads which I can say does leave you open to a few knocks on the way but I think you travel further and lighter that way. And on respect, who would want to work with someone who doesn’t respect them?
  5. 8. Diversity of skills and perspective – This rule very much echoes the very ethos behind the ChamberBreakers events themselves and diverse teams are with the right skills and ticking the other boxes are always strong teams.
  6. Flexibility – You need to know when to break the rules, and when to reel out a little more slack in the line. Being dogmatic or inflexible in any collaborative or team situation only serves to alienate the contributors, and can threaten the achievement of goals or even the entire project objective. To collaborate successfully, large enterprises will definitely need to break a few rules or at least give them a serious bend.


Thanks again to Keith and my co-presenters, Audrius Rutkauskas – Growth Enabler, Frazer Hurrel – Oath, Dilfer Nasir –, Richard Churms – Verizon, Eliot Benzecrit – Avokka, Andy Bates – Global Cyber Alliance and Elliot Gold – Work.Life. Thanks to Elliot and his team at Work.Life for making all of us so welcome in a great space for working and collaborating of course. The Tech Trailblazers look forward to collaborating with Verizon on future ChamberBreakers in 2018.