In my last entry I discussed how collaboration supports and even drives the velocity of change.  I think this is a very important concept that seems to fit with all the pieces and results of collaboration.  I think that collaboration drives new ideas, concepts and even products because of the combination of various backgrounds and experiences in the collaborative network.  In today’s entry I am going to cover what I think about the relationship between collaboration and large organizations.  I think that the evidence regarding collaboration in a large organization points to the difficulty and challenges that come from the politics and internal cultures in a large organization that can block collaboration.  Another hurdle to collaboration in a large organization can be security compliance and security concerns. 

These challenges to collaboration in a large corporation can also be directly related to the challenges to collaboration with your extended supply chain partners.  Your abilities and actions to overcome the hurdles and roadblocks will go a long way to overcoming your challenges with collaboration in your extended supply chain.  In my opinion there is a paradigm shift required to overcome the hesitation to sharing and information security requirements.  This requires changing the question from ‘Why should I share information/processes with you?’ to ‘Why shouldn’t I share information/processes with you?’  There was a similar paradigm shift during the infancy of the EDI age and vendor managed inventory. 

So, where do we start with this shift?  I think the first place is to focus on developing robust and mutually beneficial partnerships.  These partnerships are the foundation of a robust collaborative network.  You have to break free of the single minded focus on WIIFM (What’s In It For Me).  You have to focus on the long term benefits that can be realized through a mutually beneficial partnership.  A partnership is different than the ‘customer/service provider’ relationship.  A partnership is built on the foundation of mutual benefits.  Mutual benefits in my opinion means that every side must believe they have achieved a benefit to their organization.  Mutual benefits in my opinion means that every side must also share the same level of risk to success.  This combination of sharing both the risks and the rewards is the foundation of a successful partnership.

In order to move into a collaborative culture and extended supply chain we must first focus on developing partnerships. I suggest that the large corporation has the perfect test environment practice and develop the skills required to built strong partnerships.  The silos that are common in many large corporations are the perfect testing ground for developing partnership skills that can be extended to your outside supply chain partners.  There is a common rally cry in the trade articles and seminars that we must break down the silos in large corporations in order to be successful.  I say we should use this cause to help develop partnering skills.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

How do you view your outsourcing providers; do you view them as true partners or only low cost service providers to squeeze savings?  How would you describe the difference between outsourcing and collaboration