The 30 Most Creative CEOs of 2018

Michael Grove: The Story of the CollabWorks® Founder

Michael Grove

Professionally qualified as an aeronautical engineer and mathematician, Michael Grove, Founder&CEO of CollabWorks® always loved facing and defeating challenges that came his way. Soon Michael began his entrepreneurial journey at Lockheed-Martin as a stability and control engineer, and subsequently, he progressed into marketing, sales, program management, leader of commercial derivative aircraft, and eventually head of new ventures. However, predictable and cushioned retirement at Lockheed did not provide him enough challenge. In his late 30’s, his mother unexpectedly died. Michael began reflecting upon his life’s true mission and values. He wrote poetry, experience channeling, and hung out at Venice Beach. After nearly dropping out of business, he finally decided to stay on “the road less travelled” and to seek new business challenges.

Michael’s Entrepreneurial Journey Using Persistence and Adaptability

  • “CollabWorks began from the failure of the previous venture. We originally started the company as an IP sharing venture where IT organizations would share (exchange) solutions and in some cases people. Our objective was to collapse problem-solving and save each member costs. For example, we had 12 large companies sharing security solutions and people which were not proprietary. However, it was taking too long to build a critical mass of customers to capture the network effect. We then pivoted, changed the name and began research that eventually led us to the idea of a highly agile virtual-like organization.
    • After interviewing 26 corporations including Facebook, Intel, and Autodeck we created a virtual enterprise model and conducted over 25 workshops for two years – boiling down the problem until we got to the core issue as to why corporations do not scale well and end up full of waste and inertia. The root cause is how we manage the use of talent. At this early stage, our vision was about the next generation of the “cloud” -e called People Cloud. This sounded cool, but we were early as work software platforms were just forming.
    • We wrote our first talent use paper six years ago as part of the Management Innovation Exchange. We created our first process and first customer three years ago. I was expecting a huge success as we were deep into a Fortune 50 company making great outcomes. Our management framework had evolved from a fancy spreadsheet to an enterprise level SaaS platform.
    • Since this is my fifth startup, I really thought we would take off. Then large company politics arrived. Since we were optimizing the use of talent, we ran into the turf of HR who saw us as a threat and told the engineering executive that they could provide a similar solution better inhouse. What we thought was a BU sale just got complicated. We needed HR to at least be neutral and better, supportive.
    • For the past two years, we have built a future of work thought leadership community. We have sponsored DisruptHR events. We have earned a brand as future of work experts. HR is now our advocate as we make each of their core functions such as talent acquisition and workforce planning more valuable.”

CollabWorks®: The DNA of Change

From an early stage, Michael and his team’s vision was to liberate creativity and unbridled energy of an organization by focusing on the individuals in such a way that when they win, their organization wins as well. After facing major hurdles and skillfully tackling them, CollabWorks®reinvented the way organizations are managed. Michael and team have created a management framework (FrameWork) in SaaS software that guide individuals into clarifying the work they perform and who benefits (customer) from their work. Through this FrameWork, each service, each individual, and each group of individuals get a clear, digital, and quantitative data regarding the services, the talent used, and the value of both. The FrameWork is also transformative and provides simple, yet powerful process of identifying and implementing improvements. In short, the FrameWork empowers individuals, simplifies management, and provides performance metrics that correlate with the financial performance.

For the past two years, CollabWorks® has built a future of work reputation through fostering a thought leadership community, sponsoring DisruptHR events, and earning recognition as expert brand in the future of work. HR is now the company’s advocate as they make each of their core functions such as talent acquisition and workforce planning more valuable. Today, CollabWorks®is a leading player with deep core technology addressing a huge market for optimizing work. offers data and decision support that is not available from other sources today.

Brief overview of using FrameWork™

The FrameWork simplified management by shifting most of management effort to the individuals and processes provided by the self-management software. This frees up managers to provide more leadership, coaching, and their own business value. Objectives, priorities, and the work (as services) and its value are clear for the whole organization. Performance metrics include measuring the margin contribution, talent alignment, and importance of the services provided by each service, individual, and organization. The primary steps in the process are:

  • Share: The work and talent survey provides a quick, anonymous assessment of participants perception’s of their work and talent.
  • Discover: Here, all tasks are defined as services with measurable data attributes, including required talent, time allocations and more. The service data for the entire group is generated in real time, creating the portfolio of services the group performs.
  • Engage: During Engagement, a team refines the group service data. Improvements suggested by participants are reviewed and those with the most benefit to the group are selected. Teams qualify the selected improvements into actionable plans and quantify the increase in value to the group.
  • Transform: Individuals create transformation plan(s) based on improvements, objectives and desires. Performance metrics enable optimization of transformation plans for the greatest increase in value for individuals and the group.

Micheal Grove quotes

Nonexistence of Creativity Gap Between Old & New Generation

Expressing his views on creativity between generations, Michael says, “I don’t see a creative gap between generations. I enjoy working with all ages and don’t agree with the stereotypes. I like to brag that I am a millennial in boomer skin. Technology is speeding up our ability to manifest creativity, but I don’t think our creative ability has changed, irrespective of generations.”