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2014

The governance model for your collaborative partnership network is another important aspect supporting and encouraging the engagement of the partners in your collaborative partnership network. This can be one of the most difficult and yet most important aspects to incorporate and develop in your network.  The governance must be a shared governance model in order to encourage the participation and engagement of the partners.  This shared governance model is very familiar in a social network framework, it is much less familiar and rarely supported in a business network framework.  I believe  however that the shared governance model is critical to encouraging the engagement of your collaborative partners. 


Let me start with my definition of shared governance; an open model that is based on the consensus of the partners within the network without a single continuous controlling partner.  I define the model in this manner because it is important that there is no one controlling partner and that the decisions are made by the group, in essence it creates a type of federation of partners.  Another important aspect of the shared governance model is the decision by consensus model.  Consensus is an important term in this governance model because the meaning of consensus is a type of majority rule model.  Everyone does not have to agree with the decision or the reasons for the decision, however, everyone must abide by the decision. 


I think there is an unspoken understanding for abiding by consensus and that is that while everyone does not necessarily agree to every decision, everyone must feel like they get a fair review and that they agree to many if not a majority of decisions.   In other words, the individual partners in the network must feel that their opinion and reasons are valued and taken into account in a partnership.  Without this value and consideration the partners will not be compelled to engage in the process and will leave the collaborative partner network. 


I’ve said previously that I believe the continuous improvement framework to be an ideal model for supporting and encouraging the engagement of the collaborative partnership network.  Again, as I’ve discussed this framework provides the pieces to support and encourage open communications which will also encourage the partners to engage.  The one aspect though that is required to support the shared governance model within the continuous improvement framework is instituting and formalizing a facilitator role.  The facilitator will coordinate and facilitate the continuous improvement reviews and prioritization sessions to ensure open communication and that all partner’s viewpoints, priorities and benefits are clearly understood and documented to use in prioritizing initiatives. 


I specifically identify the facilitator role for this continuous improvement framework because it is important that the person leading the discussions is not viewed as being in control of the process.  In order to enforce this role I suggest that the facilitator of the continuous improvement sessions not have a voice, or specifically a vote, in the initiative prioritization.  The facilitator should be limited to managing the sessions and encouraging communication and the engagement of the partners.  This will provide the greatest value to the partner network value and continued growth.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

In recent postings I’ve discussed the importance of engaging the partners across the collaborative partnership network and the importance of open communication and more specifically, openly sharing business challenges with the network.  These are all important points in building the framework for a robust, productive and growing collaborative partnership.  One of the unspoken goals is to create a framework that provides more value across the partnership network, when I think of this or describe the objective I think of the equation 1 + 1 = 3, in other words the network gains more from the partnership than any one individual partner invests.  However, this is a difficult model to implement and probably more difficult to maintain and grow in an ongoing basis.


My suggestion is to implement a framework that has worked for me in the past starting with the first implementation to support the varied and sometimes conflicting priorities within a siloed company.  This framework is based on a continuous improvement model that brings together representatives from each silo, or in the case of a collaborative partnership each organization.  This model encourages and supports the open communication across partners through a framework that collects and prioritizes partner challenges across the network.  This model is supported with a monthly review session that includes representation from each of the partners to discuss and prioritize the challenges based on three key criteria, effort (including duration}, value and availability of resources from the network.  


A key benefit derived from this framework is that it allows the initiatives to be discussed in an unbiased and factual manner that encourages and more importantly requires open communications.  I think that you have probably already identified another important factor to this framework, it allows you to build the achievements and as a result the value gained from the network in a progressive manner.  Through this framework the partners can start with small initiatives that will help to develop the relationships and then expand with the the success of the early initiatives.  This is probably one of the key factors in this framework, it supports and encourages a method to validate and grow the trust across the partners. 


Let me use as an example my experience with this continuous improvement framework within a single siloed organization because I think you probably have experienced similar behavior.  When starting the framework the representatives were internally focused, in other words they only cared about their problems or benefits.  Within six months, the representative’s attitudes changed dramatically because the saw the results and the value to themselves and the organization as a whole.  This is when the representatives really started to challenge and provide facts to support initiatives and this is also when the individuals in the group started viewing the value provided to the organization rather than just the benefits gained for their own silo. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

tbrouill

Collaboration Viewpoint

Posted by tbrouill Jul 23, 2014

There are many aspects of a collaboration partnership that would seem to be at odds with commonly accepted, or more accurately, commonly professed business practices.  I’ve covered the majority of these in previous discussions with a focus on developing the collaborative partnership framework, or foundation, that will support and more importantly encourage a robust partnership.  In this discussion I will cover the collaborative viewpoint, or to put it another way way the collaboration horizon.  What I mean by this is the time period or time horizon that you should use to measure the success of your collaborative partnership network.  This viewpoint in another aspect of the collaborative partnership network that is generally at odds with your general business viewpoint because you must take a long-term view of your partnership and measuring the success of your partnership when measuring success and even some of the return on investment.


First of all remember that everything discussed up to now has been focused on the requirements to developing the partnership and how your framework will encourage participation and engagement in the partnership.  This focus on developing the framework is necessary to support and encourage the participation and engagement.  This focus on the framework provides the basis and the first steps to building and supporting the collaboration network.  This framework also provides the introduction and the justification for the long term viewpoint.  This long term viewpoint requires patience from the network members and also a from the partner senior leadership in order to allow the long term benefits to grow. 


Its easy for me to say that you must take a long term viewpoint and have patience in order to reap the full benefits of the collaborative partnership.  I also know though that patience doesn’t pay the bills, or in this case provide the return on investment to encourage the leadership across the partnership network to have the patience required to take the long term view.  As I previously stated, the challenge with developing a successful collaborative partnership network is learning to perform within the network in a manner that seems to be at odds with generally accepted, or more accurately generally encouraged business practices. 


Every step of the development of your collaborative partnership requires that both you and your partners act in a social manner with a focus on benefits for the network rather than a relentless focus on benefits for the individual partner.  I have called this a social network focus because of the focus on the community rather than a single minded focus on the individual.  Don’t get me wrong, in order for all this to actually work and blossom the partners within the network must realize financial and performance benefits.  This will require determination, hard work and most importantly patience from all partners and leadership across the network.  This can be difficult because of the long term view required and that is why I think that near term return is critical to developing the patience required for the long term viewpoint to take hold and realize the long term benefits.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

In recent topics I’ve covered what I believe to be two key factors that provide the framework to build a robust robust collaborative partnership network.  Initially I suggested there were three steps and in this discussion I will cover the third step, addressing the challenges of your network partners.  I also mentioned that the key to a successful and robust collaborative partner network is at odds with the common competitive behavior that generates success in an individual or a company.   These three factors that are critical to the success of your partnership; open communication, prioritizing initiatives based on the benefits to the network and addressing the challenges of your network partners are also three factors that are at odds with the competitive behavior that is encouraged in business.


Addressing the challenges of your network partners is the key third step to implementing a the collaborative partnership network.  This third step is critical to the success of your collaborative partnership because it demonstrates the commitment to the network.  This commitment to the network demonstrated by putting the network, and even other partner, benefits before your own will encourage the participation and commitment of the other members.  This, more than any other action, demonstrates the commitment of the partners in the network. 


This third factor will also support and encourage your network partners to step up and lead initiatives that provide their benefits.  This action also encourages the participation of the partnership members.  I believe the objective to these factors is creating a type of federation for your partnership network where partners are free and encouraged to participate, communication and engage with the partners to support the objectives of the network and the partners in the network.  The success of the partnership network will also ensure the success of the partners within the network. 


This supportive nature of the partnership network is at odds with many of the behaviors encouraged in business.  This will take a focused attitude and practice to take into account the benefits and objectives of your partners, this requires a long term view towards the partnership.  In addition to the long term view of partnership relationship the success of the network depends on the ability of the partners to allow and more importantly to encourage other partners to step up and actively participate and lead activities and initiatives.  This view and ability to allow partners to lead is really the action that turns a ‘client - service provider’ role into a true partnership.  This is also probably one of the most difficult aspects to obtain because it requires many to go against their nature to control.  This is the reason that I mentioned that these activities require focus and practice to help them to internalize these behaviors. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

In order for the collaboration network to prosper and grow the partners must obtain benefits and the partners in the collaboration network must achieve these benefits mutually.  This is a very simple goal for the partnership that we all know is impossible to achieve.  It is a simple fact that not every partner will achieve a direct benefit, or mutual benefit with every initiative or action completed by the network.  This is where the commitment to the partnership comes into play and the view of what is good for the network will provide indirect benefits to all of the members of the network.  In order to achieve these benefits the network must collaborate and perform or act as a type of social community.  The benefits achievement in the collaboration partnership or community then is based on the premise that not everyone will achieve a benefit however the development and benefits achieved as a whole for the community will indirectly at least benefit all members of the community.


It is important that the beneficial actions and initiatives undertaken through the collaboration network are are prioritized and coordinated across the network to understand and achieve the benefits that have been identified.  In order to support the growth and coherence of the network the communication coordination and acceptance of the initiatives must be clearly communicated and accepted, or embraced across the network.  This requires a broad review and planning process to actually understand and prioritize the initiative across the network.  The initiative first must be evaluated to identify the benefits and the risks to the collaborative network, next the initiative must be evaluated to identify the individual benefits that can be achieved and the partners within the network that would achieve the benefits.  The third aspect to this evaluation is a little tricky; you must identify any negative impact and the partners that would be impacted by these negative aspects of the initiative. 


This is where the open communications and commitment to the network comes into play, it is easy for someone to agree and support an initiative when they will reap the benefits, it requires commitment to the network and a longer term vision to agree and support an initiative that may negatively impact internal operations of the partner.  The evaluation, selection and prioritization of the initiatives undertaken by your collaborative partnership depends on open communications and participation of the partners in the network.  This also depends on the equitable selection of the initiatives along with the benefits achieved by the partners across the network.  Remember the collaborative network is a business community and the reason for members to remain in the community is the delivery of benefits to the members of the community. Members will accept and support the community and initiatives even though the member may not benefit from each initiative because the initiatives are distributed fairly and regularly across all members. 


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

The second step in developing a robust collaboration partnership that I want to cover is open communications and sharing challenges.  As I stated previously, this is the second of three factors that will support a robust and value generating partnership network.  Also, this is another aspect that will cause some challenges both internally and with your partners.  The open communication and sharing of challenges is generally at odds with normal organizational and company behavior for two reasons, no one wants competitors to know your limitations and know one shares what they broadly consider intellectual property.  The challenge is overcoming these hurdles is breaking the habits that have been ingrained in beliefs and performance for so long. 


The key to breaking the habits is demonstrating the habits provide no value and actually hinder improved performance.  I suggest the best method to breaking these habits is to evaluate facts related to the types of information shared or potentially shared.  I suggest that the majority of information considered proprietary is in reality perfectly appropriate to share with partners, I think that the definition of proprietary information is more habit based than fact based.  I’ve seen organizations that consider what seems like 99% of the information produced or discussed as proprietary and confidential. I find this amazing because when I saw the type of information protected I realized that it could be easily collected or deduced from public sources.  What I am saying here is that a simple fact based evaluation has a very high probability that you will determine the majority of information you currently define as proprietary or intellectual property are in reality easily collected or deduced from public records.


A second tool or practice to encourage sharing of information is the non-disclosure statement.  This tool has been utilized in the client / service provider relationship to protect both the service provider and the the client.  This tool will work just as well in a partner, or peer-to-peer relationship.  This non-disclosure statement provides the foundation to encouraging sharing and especially in a newly forming partner relationship.  This tool provides the comfort for all parties in the relationship to build an open communication network.  The requirement for this tool is to define the tool to allow for the partnership and not focus on any one partner in the network.  This could mean that you would need to include an addendum that defines all of the partners that participate in the partnership network.   


This foundation of comfort in sharing information across the partnership network will provide for a solid foundation to increase the trust and the benefits that can be achieved.  Remember though that you must start with changing the relationship from a client / service provider type to a peer-to-peer or equal partner relationship.  This is key to achieving the most from your collaborative partner network.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

In a previous discussion I suggested that the success of a partnership, or a social network, and the success of many if not all businesses would seem to be based on completely opposite behaviors.  These are the behaviors and areas that will require focus and practice until these new practices become ingrained in your subconscious and second nature in your actions.  This becomes a training exercise that requires effort to develop these practices and must be a priority of your collaborative partnership network to develop and incorporate these practices.  This exercise is a great method to build relationships across your partnership network, the exercises will especially enhance the engagement and participation of the members. 


This process is important to the long term success of your network and it will also be one of the most challenging initiatives of the partnership.  During the initiation phase of your collaborative network you and your partners must all strive to embrace the sharing and open and honest communications that are a critical aspect of your partnership’s growth and success.  As others have said over and over, success doesn’t just happen and the success of your collaborative network is no different.  The sharing and open communications can start with sharing your challenges with your partners.  This is a good beginning and will provide a solid foundation for growth in both sharing and open communications.


Sharing the challenges among partners is a good first step to developing the open communications that is necessary to develop a robust partnership.  This can be a difficult first step though because the open communications is not natural with external partners.  As I mention above, the natural tendency in a business relationship is to view external organizations as competitors and this in turn leads to a tendency to hold back on sharing information with organizations that would have previously been viewed as either competitors or a service supplier.  In both cases these relationships are more customer / vendor relationships and as such the customer has a tendency to hold back what they view as intellectual property or competitive advantage. 


The change in the relationship is critical to creating the partnership relationship.  One method that I found that helps in developing the partner relationship is to focus on mutual benefits.  This focus on mutual benefits will provide a strong foundation for the partnership to develop along with a basis to begin the open communications.  I view the development of the partnership, and a collaborative partnership is no different, as a three step process.  This process starts with a focus on mutual benefits, the next step is the open communication and sharing of challenges and the third step is where the rubber meets the road and the partnership blossoms to address the challenges of the partners.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

The factors that contribute to the success of your collaborative partnership are common practices that you have incorporated in other professional and personal initiatives.  As I’ve discussed previously, the collaborative partnership network is a professional version of the personal networks to which you belong.  This means that the participation and engagement will change as a result of the interest and perceived benefits of the network members.  In my opinion the key factors to maintaining the interest of your network partners are a robust continuous improvement program, open and honest communications across your partner network and a method, or framework, for encouraging your partners to step up to provide leadership to initiatives and the network as a whole.


I think the two factors providing the key ingredients to the success are the open and honest communications and leadership from the partners across the network.  These also unfortunately are probably the most difficult factors to deliver.  I think the interesting point though is that these two factors are self evident in your social networks and provide the means to grow the social networks.  What makes these factors so difficult in the professional network?  I believe that the difficulty is directly related to standard business practices.  These practices are competition based and the basis of success of the companies and capitalism.  The success of many professional companies is based on developing and providing a product that improves, or even replaces the current version of the product.  In order to harvest the benefits of this product the professional companies generally desire to maintain the exclusive production for as long as possible.  This leads to the common practice in business to maintain the protection of intellectual property.  Maintaining this protection is basically keeping it secret and that is just the opposite of open and honest communications and sharing that is involved in the success of a partnership.


The second factor, or practice, that must be overcome in a professional network is the desire of the individual and company to lead.  This leadership factor is the second ingredient to competition that must be redirected and opened in order to encourage the participation and success of your your partnership network.  From very early ages we are taught to compete in order to overcome hurdles and win.  This competitive behavior is ingrained in the successful professional business and is also a critical factor to the success of the business.  However, the success of your partnership network is based on the need to share this leadership with your partners.


Bottom line is that the success of a partnership and the success of many if not all businesses would seem to be based on completely opposite behaviors.  These are the areas that will require the focus and practice until these new practices become common and second nature.  This becomes a training exercise that requires effort to develop these practices and must be a priority of the network to develop these practices.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

tbrouill

Collaborative Governance

Posted by tbrouill Jul 12, 2014

Success in collaborative governance is critical to the success and growth of your collaborative network.  The challenge is developing a governance framework in a social network.  Remember that your collaborative network is a professional social network and one of the strength of the social network is the flexibility and participation of partners based on desire and benefits that can be achieved through a partnership in an initiative of the moment.  Your professional social network, or collaborative network, adds one important element to the social network framework, a social club type of element.  In other words, the element that provides the continuity thread to your collaborative network is the ‘club’ aspect of members that come together as a result of a common background, practice, need and benefit.


The common background, practice, need and benefits will only carry the partnerships network for so far and so long until entropy settles in and the the network begins to deteriorate.  This is where the club element comes into play and gives a reason for the partnership network to continue.  However, just a reason to continue will only delay the entropy for so long without a governance framework that supports and encourages individual partners across the network to step up and lead through initiatives to deliver benefits to the network and members.  This leadership can turn into haphazard pockets of development and while each initiative will provide benefits, you can actually turbo charge the benefits in a geometric manner with coordination of the initiatives.


Coordination of the initiatives and the realization of geometric benefits requires a governance process to provide overarching coordination and leadership.  This requires the cooperation and active participation of the partnership members.  There are two types of participation in any social network, or club, passive and active.  In order for the network to continue to flourish the level of active participation must be at least as high as the passive participation and it would obviously be best if the level of active participation was much higher than passive participation.  You should anticipate the participation levels to fluctuate for a variety of reasons such as time of year, type of activities that generate the participation, number of members and also number of new members. 


Your governance program must take into account all of these aspects and on top of all of that it must support the prioritization and coordination of improvement initiatives.  Your governance program must take all of these things into account while encouraging active participation..  This is where the robust continuous improvement program will show itself to be invaluable is supporting these objectives.  The continuous improvement program provides the framework to identify, prioritize and initiate initiatives and in addition, as a result of the execution it will generate interest and active participation from your partners.  This participation will also generate the interest in leading and driving the partnership forward.  


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

tbrouill

Collaboration Leadership

Posted by tbrouill Jul 11, 2014

Due to the concept and framework of of the network, leading your collaborative partnership is founded on a shared leadership that is accepted, or even given, by the partners. The collaborative partnership is a type of social network made up of companies and organizations rather than individuals.  This being the case, you must remember that every organization in the network considers itself the center of its network and responsible for the well being of their organization while participating and supporting the collaborative network.  Since the collaborative network is a type of social network, the leadership of the network, or more accurately the network activities and initiatives, must be earned and given by the members of the network.  This collaborative network is something of a federation and the leaders of the network must essentially be elected by the group.


This selection of leaders will be encouraged and coordinated through the continuous improvement program that I have been recommending.  The continuous improvement program provides a means to identify the need of a leader and then it follows through with a means to allow and support the selection and agreement on the appropriate leader.  In addition to the framework and means to identify and select leaders, this continuous improvement program provides the governance framework for the collaborative network to support the interests and deliver the benefits and capabilities to the network.  The governance framework provides the means to communicate and prioritize initiatives,issues and resolution. 


I think that one of the most difficult hurdles to the success and longevity of the collaborative partnerships is a method to communicate, prioritize and sequence initiatives.  The continuous improvement program provide the framework to support these requirements.  In addition, the framework provides the means to govern and support not only the successful delivery of improvement initiatives, it also provides a method to support communication and shared leadership among your collaborative partners.  The challenge with leadership in the collaborative partnership framework is the means to gain consensus from the partners for selecting leaders.  Remember, your partners cannot simply be directed to perform or prioritize initiatives based on your needs, your partners must agree that the initiative provides benefits to the network and must agree on the direction and objectives.  This will take a great deal of patience and effort to gain and maintain the consensus.


Leadership in a collaborative partnership network is not bestowed for life, leadership in a collaborative partnership is agreed to for specific initiatives and must be earned based on requirements and abilities.  I think the most difficult thing about ensuring success of your partnership network is selecting and supporting leadership from across the partnership network.  It takes patience, open and honest communications, along with a strong commitment to the success of the network to ensure that this governance framework and grow and support the network.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

The collaborative partner network can achieve substantial success through the implementation of  a continuous improvement program that supports the network.  In order to achieve success in your collaborative partnership network you must encourage the participation and engagement from your partners.  In order to encourage the participation and engagement from your partners your network must identify and implement initiatives that benefit the partners.  I think that the most effective method to identify, prioritize and execute these initiatives is through a robust continuous improvement program.  The continuous improvement program provides additional benefits that will encourage the participation of your partners, that is the opportunity for your partners to participate in the prioritization and also the opportunity for your partners to lead the initiatives that are important to them.


This lines up very well with the requirements that I’ve previously identified as critical to the success of your collaborative partnership; a shared leadership and the engagement of your partners.  The foundation of collaboration is the give and take among partners to support the needs and deliver mutually beneficial improvements across the network.  This requires an approach that encourages a give and take to the identification and delivery of the benefits.  What I mean by this is that every improvement initiative cannot be expected to benefit all members of the network.  This means that the improvements and initiatives must be selected and prioritized by consencious across the network.  In order for this to work and continue the full engagement and participation of the network members the selection must first focus on the benefits to the network and then identify how members of the network can internalize the value.  This also means that every initiative will not provide value to all individual members of the network, on the other hand, when the network benefits then all members of the network benefit.

 

While this continuous improvement program will deliver value to the network from the benefits realized through the prioritized initiative the second factor that is critical to the long term growth and success of your partnership network is the opportunity this program provides for your partners to own and lead the delivery of initiatives.  As I have discussed, the collaborative partnership is built and will prosper and flourish on a framework of partner engagement and participation.  This is based on the concept of a federation of partners where the leadership is shared and agreed to by the partners.  In other words, in order to maintain a vibrant collaborative partnership the leadership must be shared across the partners.  This can be realized by the continuous improvement program and encouraging partners to lead initiatives.  This practice will encourage partners to engage to deliver initiatives that will benefit from their expertise and encourage participation in the leadership of the partnership network. 


The key to success is encouraging partners across the network to engage and take on a leadership role.  The partnership network will languish and eventually wither and die without the fully engaged participation of the partners.  I believe the continuous improvement program is the best method to encourage this engagement and participation.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

The continuous improvement program is one of my foundational concepts because of the versatility and value that a well executed and maintained program can deliver to an organization and the collaboration partnership network is no different.  In this case the continuous improvement program provides the framework for the network to identify, execute and track the progress and the benefits of the individual initiatives to the network.  The program also provides a means to identify and encourage partners to step up and lead the initiatives.  This is the key to the success of the program and the partnership and will ensure the long term success of both.


The effective and successful continuous improvement program provides a framework to identify, review, prioritize and execute initiatives that will bring value to the entire partnership network.  In the past I’ve discussed the challenge of limited tools in your tool box and the danger of becoming myopic in selecting your tools.  You may be thinking that my focus and regular return to the continuous improvement program practice is due to my limited tool set.  I suggest though that the reason I come back to the continuous improvement program is because it provide such an effective framework to support and encourage the success of so many business practices.  The steps and functions that are required to drive success in your collaborative partnerships just happen to be the key steps and functions that make a continuous improvement programs successful. 


The continuous improvement program provides the framework that supports the key functions; a feedback loop that encourages review and prioritization of activities, a method to measure the results of the activities and a method that can be incorporated that will encourage the partners to step up and lead the activities that can benefit from their expertise and priorities.  In other words, I think that the continuous improvement program will provide the tools and the framework that will not only encourage the execution of the most valuable activities, the continuous improvement program will also provide the critical feedback loop that is so important to ensure that you are achieving the expected value from your activities.


The one function of the continuous improvement program that I think is one of, if not the most, critical aspects, or requirements, for the long term success of your collaborative partnership is the opportunity to assign leaders to the initiative from your partner network.  This aspect encourages the participation from your partners that will ensure the long term success of your partnership.  I am a big believer in implementing processes and activities that bring value, I do not believe in implementing processes for the sake of processes.  In order to attain the buy in and support from your collaborative partners I believe that they must accept and buy into the value that can be delivered by the activity.  I believe that the opportunity to assign leaders to the initiative from across your partner network is a key to achieving this buy in from your partners.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

Success in collaboration requires leadership without a doubt.  The leadership required though comes not from a single source, this leadership comes from many sources across the partner network.  This leadership across the network must be encouraged and nurtured so that it flourishes and delivers the objectives and benefits.  The good news regarding this direction is that this effort to nurture and encourage leaders to step up across your network will feed into the growth and engagement of your collaborative partner network as a whole and this will in turn delivery dramatic value and benefits across your network.  As I’ve said previously, I suggest that one of the most effective methods to encourage the engagement of your partners is to encourage your partners to also take a leadership role. 


Sometimes the most beneficial action you can take in a partnership is to step back and listen to your partners and this includes encouraging your partners to lead the activity.  This encouragement can come in many forms and is a critical ingredient to your successful continuous improvement program.  The successful collaborative partnership network is very similar to a federation of governments.  In order to be successful you must encourage the participation of your partners, and this participation includes leadership of initiatives by the partners.  The collaboration partnership cannot be successful if it is based solely on the direction of one partner, it requires the support and participation from all the partners in the network in order to ensure that the partnership remains engaged and provides benefits to partners across the network.  There should be a committee, or board of directors if you will, that reviews the initiatives to prioritize based on the value and benefits delivered to the network.


This board would be responsible for two network objectives; the maintenance, or care and feeding, of the partnership and the board would be responsible for the maintenance and support of the continuous improvement program.  I see these two responsibilities as related and coupled to each other, in other words, I don’t think you can be successful in one aspect and neglect the other.  The care and feeding of the network can be delivered through the encouragement and participation of the members and then the encouragement and participation of the members is supported and grown through the successful delivery of the continuous improvement initiatives. 


Regular readers have already noticed that I came back full circle to one of my foundational concepts - the continuous improvement program.  This is one of my foundational concepts because of the versatility and value that a well executed and maintained continuous improvement program can deliver to an organization, or in this case a partnership network.  In this case the continuous improvement program provides the framework for the network to identify, execute and track the progress and the benefits of the individual initiatives to the network.  The program also provides a means to identify and encourage partners to step up and lead the initiatives.  This is the key to the success of the program and the partnership and will ensure the long term success of both.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

The effort and activities to generate engagement from your collaborative partners can be something of a self-generating activity if you do it correctly.  What I mean by this is that if your partners are engaged in a positive manner and you promote and market the engagement and especially the benefits achieved from their engagement your efforts will create a ‘me too’, or ‘I want that too’ response from your partners.  This will provide your self-generating engagement actions across partners.  Of course you must also continue to encourage and support the various engagement activities.  This support though must also be viewed and provided as a collaboration activity in itself. 


Remember that your collaborative partnership as a model does not have a single leader responsible for the collaboration.  In order to be successful and bring benefits and value across the partnership the collaborative model requires support and effort across the partners and this support and effort is manifested through the engagement of the partners.  Your collaborative partnership requires the support of partners across the network and this support is manifested quite simply through the engagement of the partners.  This engagement can and should be encouraged through encouraging participation and input from the partners.  The key method to encourage the participation would be accepting and implementing the suggestions from the partners.


In addition to encouraging participation and engagement from your partners through encouraging and implementing the suggestions of your partners, you will also encourage engagement by encouraging your partners to take a leadership role in the areas of their particular expertise and interest.  This leadership role provided by your partners is a critical success factor to your partner engagement and by extension the success of your collaborative partnership and network.  As a confirmation, or reminder, I looked up collaboration in Wikipedia - “It is a recursive[2] process where two or more people or organizationswork together to realize shared goals, (this is more than the intersection of common goals seen in co-operative ventures, but a deep, collective determination to reach an identical objective[by whom?][original research?]) — for example, an endeavor[3][4] that is creative in nature[5]—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group.[6


You can see from the definition that the point is for organizations to work together to realize shared goals and that leadership is providing within the group.  This definition provides the confirmation to my discussion for encouraging engagement; you must encourage the participation and support across your partnership in order to achieve the value and results from your partnership.  I suggest that one of the most effective methods to encourage this engagement is to encourage your partners to also take a leadership role.  Sometimes the most beneficial action you can take in a partnership is to step back and listen to your partners and this includes encouraging your partners to lead the activity.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners?  What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation?  Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?

Engaging partners across the collaboration partnership is a critical requirement to the success of the partnership.  Once again, the success of the collaboration partnership can be measured by the mutual values, both hard dollar value and soft value benefits, delivered to all partners in the relationship.  Engaging partners is not a single execution activity it is more of a continuous process.  This continuous process though is critical to delivering the continued mutual values to your collaboration partners.  The engagement of your partners must be treated as a continuous process because you should be continuously raising the bar in order to maintain the interest and engagement.  In addition to maintaining the interest you must also always be looking for new partners and methods to engage your partners. 


I’ve come to realize that the most effective method to maintain and grow your partner participation and engagement is through a continuous improvement method.  When you review the method I think you will also realize that the practices that make methods that make continuous improvement successful in other areas of your business will also work well in improving the participation and engagement of your collabortive partners.  The simplified ‘listen, do, review’ process is a natural fit to develop your opportunities to improve and expand your partner participation and engagement. 


Engagement of your collaborative partners is the result of their participation.  In all areas of your partnerships you will find that as you increase the participation of your partners, their engagement will also increase as a result.  This suggests that your continuous improvement or continuous participation and engagement initiatives should be focused on first increasing the participation of your partners and then taking advantage of the participation to increase the engagement.  You will find that when you focus on increasing the participation and engagement of your partners both the hard and soft benefits will be much easier to achieve.  In fact I think that you will find that the continuous process will become almost self generating.


The mutual benefits that can and will be achieved through increased participation and engagement of your partners will encourage additional partners to participate in the collaboration.  This will in itself generate continued interest and value from your collaborative partners.  The mutual benefit achieved through the additional engagement will themselves also generate new opportunities for benefits through collaboration.  This is not something that ‘just happens’ though, if you take this process for granted it will atrophy and the participation will wither and disappear.


As with many other methods or activities that seem to be ‘self generating’ encouraging the continuous participation and engagement of your collaborative partners must be managed and encouraged to ensure continued success and continued generation of the mutual benefits across the partners.  This continuous encouragement of participation and engagement becomes a key ingredient to the success of our collaborative partnerships.  This continuous encouragement of participation and engagement will also generate interest and growth in your collaborative partnership, which will also obviously increase the mutual benefits attained across the collaborative partnership. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…


Have you discussed efficiencies with your collaborative partners?  What kind of tricks do you practice when you are multi-tasking?  How does technology impact your ability to mutli-task?  How does the blurring of the professional and personal aspects impact your life?