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This article was published 20/1/2011 (3493 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
All of us are smarter than one of us.
That mantra has become a raison d’etre for Jeff Couture and Helen Maupin — two consultants from different backgrounds who have chosen to collaborate rather than compete.
Couture runs The Proactive Circle, a consulting firm for indidivuals and businesses while Maupin is the brains behind Right To Joy, a business that focuses on leadership coaching and organizational transformation.
But instead of seeing each other as rivals in the consulting field, the pair have found that putting their brainpower together gives them an edge — a feat made easier, said Maupin, by the fact the two offer different types of consulting services.
"I think we’re the epitome of what we’re seeing right now, which is collaboration and competition," she said, adding, "We are able to collaborate because we don’t really end up stepping on each other’s toes."
The pair met while Couture was working for a small software development firm.
The firm had hit a wall, the St. Vital-based Couture explained, in terms of knowing how best to expand and decided to hire an external consultant.
Maupin, an Osborne Village resident with decades of experience in traditional consulting was brought in to work her magic.
Couture said Maupin’s ideas on organizations working together felt foreign to the IT workplace — which draws personalities who seem most comfortable operating independently.
Foreign, he said, but also exciting.
"Once Helen came in and sort of showed me the social side, it sort of awakened something within me," he said.
Maupin merged her business with the software firm, but eventually decided to go off on her own again — Couture made a similar decision a few months later, and started his own IT consulting business.
The two maintained contact and eventually realized they could still learn a lot from each other — a realization that involved the pair reinventing their two businesses in just two months, said Maupin.
Maupin gained significantly from Couture’s technological know-how — admitting she would never be able to amass the amount of knowledge her friend has in the remainder of her career — and launched into the e-commerce sector by selling her products online.
Couture, meanwhile, realized he was more fulfilled by business and personal consulting and coaching than being confined to IT consulting.
He took advantage of Maupin’s extensive experience and knowledge to transform his own business and break away from the IT field.
The two made a conscious decision not to form a single business — Maupin said they both felt they still wanted the freedom to explore separate projects as well as collaborate.
But the pair have already co-operated on a number of ventures, and have more endeavours in the works.
"The boundary is permeable between these two firms, because we’ve really seen how beneficial collaboration is," Maupin said.
Projects together have included a book — with Maupin on the content side and Couture on the production side — as well as a workshop on stress management.
The two are also working on a strategy they hope to market to help create a "marriage" of the IT field and traditional consulting field.
"My industry is going to die without IT, and IT is going to die without my industry," Maupin stated prophetically. "This marriage has to happen."
But most important, Couture added, the pair are a living and breathing example that — despite the old message that capitalism and competition are the best model out there — collaboration is the way to go.
"Everything we touch, the principal is there," said Maupin.
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