I’ve been writing a lot lately about collaboration and the importance of building a collaborative partnership across your extended supply chain. I’ve been focusing on building a collaboration community to help to build the partnerships and in addition, the importance of focusing on the long term partnerships that are mutually beneficial. All of these points are critical to building an effective collaborative community, but this can all come tumbling down, or never gain the momentum to become self-sustaining if you ignore, or overlook, the barriers you will most certainly encounter while you are developing a collaborative community.
While no two situations or organizations are the same, I would say that there are some common barriers, or types of barriers, that you should be aware of and plan to address. I would group these common barriers into 3 categories;
- Internal – Those barriers that you will need to overcome within your own organization
- External – You won’t be surprised when I say these are the barriers you will need to overcome that are external to your organization. These would involve the community.
- Technical – These are the barriers that must be overcome within the technology tools, networks and hardware.
So, lets start with internal barriers. I think there are a few types of internal hurdles that you will most likely encounter; silos and cross organizational groups that will push back because of a fear of losing control by collaborating with external partners; security can be a hurdle by placing roadblocks that will delay or severely limit the collaborative abilities; priorities across the organizations required to support this effort that do not match and turn coordination into a nightmare. It is critical that you do not downplay the importance of the internal barriers you will encounter because these barriers will easily short-circuit the success by either the obstinacy of the barriers themselves, or paying lip service to the initiative while ‘stutter stepping’ the support. Either of these reactions to the initiative will just as surely doom the initiative to failure!
Let’s move along to the next type of barrier – those that are external to your organization. I think you will find these barriers to be very similar to the internal barriers. They will focus on gaining acceptance from your extended supply chain partners and their own internally reluctance to share what they may believe is proprietary information. In addition to this you will also run into reluctance for some of your partners to collaborate with each other, establishing an almost three-dimensional barrier!
The third type of barrier, technical, can be both the most challenging and the easiest to overcome. This barrier is all related to the tools, and the network capabilities that you have to choose from. In addition to the straight forward capabilities and availability challenges related to technology, there is also an internal and external image or trust barrier to overcome that is related to technology. The most difficult challenge in technology will be overcoming the reluctance to utilize open tools and networks because of a perceived lack of security and ‘enterprise strength’ capabilities. This can be viewed as a generational challenge; the gen y tendency will be to leap into utilizing open tools and networks because that’s what they’ve grown up with; while the boomers will tend to look at the open tools as a security and performance issue. The good news is that there are many open tools and networks that can be utilized and configured into a private community that will support your needs to begin building your own collaborative community while developing the standards and methods required to sustain a collaborative community.
I’m sure that you have encountered these barriers yourself, some will be readily visible and I hope that this discussion helps you to identify and overcome these barriers. In future discussions I will provide my view and suggestions to addressing these barriers.
Now for the audience participation portion of this program……
What kind of barriers have you encountered in your efforts to build a collaborative community?
What kind of technical tools and networks have you utilized to develop a collaborative community?