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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?

I’ve been thinking recently about how valuable the Social Network and Social Media can be in the event and risk management in the extended supply chain.   I started to think about this recently while reading about The Hunger Games and discussing with my high school aged daughter.  I was fascinated by the depth and breadth of the reach The Hunger Games achieved in a relatively short time.  Now I know that The Hunger Games phenomenon has been building for 3 years or so but even that is a major achievement considering this has can be attributed to the social networking of the students and by extension the student’s parents.  In fact I am guessing there is a good chance that may of you reading this were surprised by the excitement and frenzy generated by the movie release, which I’ve heard broke the release week-end record held by Twilight.


So how does this happen across such a wide range both geographically and culturally?  That is the beauty, and the power, of the social network.  Social networks and the results of these networks are built and destroyed or dropped in cycles that are sometimes incomprehensible to those outside of the network.  It really is true that the revolution has already overwhelmed us, and in many ways we don’t realize the changes yet.  In many ways I think that we will not fully understand the changes because this cycle of change is increasing, by the time the mainstream sees the ripples of the change, there are already two or three variations of the change in full realization!  In fact I think that its safe to say that if the business world doesn’t at least bend or adjust to the changes, they will be washed aside in the waves of subsequent changes.


So, where does that leave the extended supply chain?  I think that organizations must embrace the social network capabilities in order to survive.  I think that organizations must lead these efforts in order to flourish!  I don’t think that anyone would argue that social networks have had an immense impact on the global political structures and these changes have reverberated across all societies.  The extended supply chain is also dependant on the global political structures and the changes generated and the speed of these changes generated by social networks can be extremely intimidating. 


I think that we should be looking to the social networks to support the extended supply chain from two key aspects; the geopolitical structures that touch and are touched by the extended supply chain, and the logistical and environmental structures that touch and are touched by the extended supply chain.  The organizations, or social communities, that form and understand and embrace these key aspects in a way that supports all the members of the community will be the driving forces in the future economies.  It is critical to monitor and understand the reverberations across the extended supply chain and utilize the community to adjust to the reverberations in order to be successful in the future.  The initial wave of globalization was focused on the financial aspects, and the future waves of globalization will add geopolitical and environmental aspects to the focus of globalization.  I believe that the only way to succeed in this future is to embrace the social network and develop a community to provide the support and capabilities necessary to be successful.


As I’ve said before -


Share your information; share your success and share your challenges!  The community can help you adjust to the challenges and setbacks through share commitments and sacrifice to support the community.  You must remember however that everyone must give in order to achieve success; you cannot be selfish!  The social tools developed for Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare can also help to build and support your partner community.  Give it a try and open yourself up to success!


Now for the audience participation portion of this program……


How do you feel about the changes I mention above?


What do you feel is the likelihood of these changes coming to fruition?


What additional changes and repercussions do you see as a result of these trends?