Incorporation of standards and procedures in your collaborative network to help in managing and maintaining the relationships are an important aspect to the continue growth and benefits of your network.  I believe that standards and procedures are a key factor in measuring the maturity of your collaborative network.  Not only that but standards and procedures are also a key factor in delivering value and benefits to the network on a continuous basis.  Standards and procedures start with the networking partnership agreement and continue through to the management and coordination of the partners and the delivery of the benefits. 

I have said many times before that standards and procedures provide the guardrails to the relationship and methods to work together.  I believe these standards and procedures provide and support the framework to build and grow a strong collaborative network that provides value to all partners.  These standards provide the guiding principles and methods of engagement that build trust across your network and partners.  In fact one of the key benefits of the standards and procedures is trust across the partners in the network.  This trust is the glue that binds the the partner relationships and the glue that binds the trust across the partners. 

I see three types or general groups of these standards and procedures;

  1. The general non-disclosure agreement that assures the information shared among partners will not be shared outside of the partnerships.
  2. The definition of the types of activities that will be engaged within and across the partnerships to clarify the expectations and deliverables of the relationships.
  3. The partnership guiding principles that define the ‘rules of the road’ for the manner in which the partners will engage.

Each one of these types of procedures and agreements provides one leg of the tripod that makes up a strong partnership.  Each of these types of procedures and agreements are absolutely required in order to ensure the stability and the flexibility of the collaborative network.

Combined together these procedures provide a starting point for measuring the maturity level of your collaborative network relationships and also the capabilities.  As the maturity of your network increases these documents will change and grow to support the changing needs and objectives.  The simple fact of the matter is that the execution and delivery of benefits will identify new opportunities and the new opportunities will identify new rules or principles that must be followed in order to achieve the benefits.  These changes and growth activities require regular review and evaluation, in other words a continuous improvement process that will ensure that the growth and expansion are understood and provide benefits to the network.  This growth and expansion of the network and the procedures and agreements are the metrics of an increasingly mature collaborative network.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

How do you identify and address new opportunities in your current business market?  Have you ever tried to develop a SWOT focused on new business opportunities or new markets  to evaluate the fit for partnership and as a means to address and meet new opportunities?  Do you regularly develop a SWOT analysis to evaluate your internal capabilities and needs to support new business and market opportunities?