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2015


A successful supply chain partner network knits together the pieces of objectives and benefits to the network partners into a strategic plan that brings value to all of the partners.  It is in the best interest of all of the partners in that network to participate so that the strategic objectives for the partnership can be met and not just one or two of the partners.  The value of the partnership lies in the benefits achieved by the partner members when all partners work towards the strategic objectives of the network.  These benefits are greater for the network than can be achieved by any one partner alone and this is the glue that holds the network together.


The partner network requires that each of the partners gives up a little bit of control and autonomy to the network in order to achieve the benefits promised by the strategic objectives. This should be viewed as a positive result of the partnership because the collaboration with the partners makes the decision a greater value decision.  One of the benefits of the network is that each partner within the network has the opportunity to take advantage of the experiences that each partner brings to the table.  This sharing of experiences makes the decisions stronger and more beneficial without requiring each partner in the network to learn or experience the same challenges as their partners have already overcome.  I think these improved decisions based on the partner experience is one of the key benefits of the supply chain partner network.  Bottom line is that each partner gives up a bit of control for the benefit of sharing the experience of each of the network members.


A continuous improvement process and procedures must next be implemented in your network in order ot ensure the continued participation of your partners in the management and development of a robust supply chain network.  These network building activities are not just a ‘once and done’ exercise and they must be developed into the continuous improvement process and procedures that will guide the execution and development of the network partners.  The continuous improvement procedures are built upon regular communication and review of the supply chain along with the business processes supported by the supply chain.  The world and your supply chain are continuously changing and morphing into new processes and capabilities.  The network continuous improvement procedures ensure that your supply chain network will take into account the changes across the supply chain, from raw materials to the end consumer, when making decisions. 


You should expect your supply chain network to expand and contract as partners, objectives and requirements change.  This change is the essence of the network and must not only recognized, it must be embraced in order to survive in the future. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


A strong supply chain partner network is important to your consumer eCommerce site and these partners also require their own attraction and retention program.  You cannot hope to achieve the sales and consumer retention objectives without a strong supply chain partner network made up of suppliers, carriers and logistics providers.  In addition, the development and maintenance of this partner network requires a strategy that includes many of the same actions and objectives as the strategy to attract and retain consumers to the eCommerce site.  Whether attracting a consumer to a web site or developing a partnership with a supplier, carrier or logistics provider, the objectives are similar; provide a value as a reason for starting and maintaining the relationship.


The supply chain partner network requires values in their reasons to participation focusing on the values and potential delivered by the network to the partner members.  The key to developing a strong supply chain partner network is delivering a value to belonging and participating in the network.  Your partners in the network must commit to participation based on their own values and objectives.  The network of supply chain partners must be viewed and developed as a community of partner members with the same objectives to achieve their own value from the community.  Partners join the community because they believe they will achieve a value from the relationship and not because they are compelled to provide a value to others with no return.  From this perspective, the supply chain partner members are no different that consumer shoppers; there must be a reason to begin the relationship and there must be a continued reason or reasons to continue the relationship.


These partner values and return can be based on both monetary and guarantee of business values; either a direct return or a soft return in other words.  The of the partner network is to work together to define a strategy and then define the actions to meet that strategy.  The incentive of the partners is the same for all supply chain partners; a stable and robust eCommerce community will provide strong and robust return on investment of the supply chain partners through both a stable demand channel and also increasing sales due to the growth of the eCommerce and an omni-channel retail community.  Your partner members in the community will understand these objectives and will see that it is in their own self interest to participate and grow the sales of the omni-channel retail environment.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The on-going attraction and retention of consumers on a site is a difficult objective due to the many factors that must be taken into account.  You have found that the initial attraction of consumers to a site can be very intimidating and also very difficult because there are so many different aspects and methods that must be taken into account to achieve the desired results.  The simple fact of the matter is that the term ‘initial attraction’ really describes the entire effect and is only a fragile beginnin of the relationship with the consumer.  The on-going attraction and retention efforts make up the marathon of the relationship and these require a continuous focus and drive to maintain.


Think of the consumer relationship in terms of an iceberg; the initial attraction is the actions and offerings that you see above the water, then the on-going attraction and retention are all of the actions and offerings that you don’t think about that are under the water.  The scariest part of the iceberg is the volume and makeup of the ice under water.  So it should come as no surprise that the scariest part of the consumer relationship is the volume and makeup of the actions and activities to succeed in the on-going attraction and retention of consumers.  As with any major and especially a business impactful undertaking you must break it down into pieces that can be achieved to develop and maintain a momentum and culture of achievement.


The first step in developing your strategy is to define your objective or how you want to attract consumers to your site, for example your strategy may be low price or uncommon products or a community.  Your strategy must be able to sustain your community though and will direct the tone of the relationship with your members.  I suggest a strategy that will not be driven by price, this is a losing proposition because there is always another site that will offer a lower price.  Your strategy should focus on the unique practices and offerings that allow you to maintain an on-going attraction and long term retention of your members.  In addition, you must constantly refine and revise your on-going attraction and retention strategy to maintain a fresh viewpoint.  This fresh viewpoint along with a focus on direct interaction with the consumer will help to maintain an on-going attraction.


I suggest a focus on community because this builds a real commitment from the consumer.  A sense of community built on service, selection and relationships will encourage and maitain the retention of the community members as opposed to a price focused strategy which only gives one reason for consumers to return.  What we find over and over is that consumers are searching for a sense of community, where they belong and can exchange recommendations and suggestions with other consumers and most importantly with the retailer.  The retailer should focus on the soft values to retain customers and this will bring the hard value of increased sales.  The benefit of this focus is that the return and the increases in sales are built on a solid, long term, foundation rather than the fickle search for low cost.       

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The relationship with the consumer must start with an initial attraction to your eCommerce site.  This initial attraction sets the tone of the relationship with the consumers and also your collaborative partners so you must be careful in how you make this initial attraction.  What I mean by this is that the initial attraction must fit in with your sales and product strategy in order to not only attract the consumer that first time.  This initial attraction must not focus on a low cost strategy when your site is a luxury item store for instance.  So, your initial attraction strategy is the most important introduction point where you make your first impression with consumer and being to develop your relationship.


The first impression of the consumer involves not only the products and price but also the site construction itself.  In other words, the initial lure brings the consumer to your site and then the site, product mix and most importantly services encourage the consumer to not only stay that first time but also to return.  There is another important aspect to the first impression and that is that this first impression begins with the initial attraction to the site, through the purchase and then does not complete until the consumer’s order is delivered and they are happy with the product.  Don’t ever forget that your positive and continuing relationship with the consumer depends on your continuous performance.  Your product mix may be great and your pricing fair for the product and if your delivery or your issue resolution fails you will lose the consumer.


The first thing you must decide in developing your attraction strategy is what is your market strategy because your initial attraction strategy must fit in with your market strategy.  My feeling is that it is a mistake to focus on price only for your initial strategy because this type of consumer is only loyal to the price and you cannot afford to get into a low price battle with your competitors.  Your attraction strategy must take into account your brand strategy, your product strategy and your service strategy.  It is OK to start with an introductory price to lure the consumer for that first purchase, however you should not focus on pricing unless of course your market strategy focuses on low prices. 


Your objective for the initial attraction is to first lure the consumer to your site, second to encourage the consumer to purchase from your site.  After this your delivery service should clinch the relationship.  The follow-up with he consumer should then be based on the type of products they purchased initially and providing up-sell and cross-sell attractions.  Another follow-up should be the invitation to rate the service, the delivery and the shipment packaging.  All of these things encourage the relationship extension.             

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Consumer retention is a very important goal and objective that will make or break your eCommerce site.  I think though that attraction is a much better word for the goal and objective.  Retention implies that you have the consumer on your site and you are working to make sure that the consumer does not leave the site.  Attraction however implies that the consumer has not reached your site, either left or has never been on your site, and you are working to give the consumer a reason to visit your site.  I think one of the key differences between the two phrases is that retention is the act of interesting the consumer in remaining on the site until they make a purchase and attracting is the act of luring the consumer to return to the site. 


I understand, and agree, that this can be a much too simplistic view of the two actions, and I am providing and defining this view to make a point.  My point is that the success and continued growth of your eCommerce site depends on both acts; of interesting the consumer to remain until they complete a purchase and then luring the consumer back for future purchases.  The attraction aspect requires a great deal of imagination and creativity to continuously keep your name in the view of consumers and generate the interest to shop.  Let’s face it, the price is probably the initial lure and then the collaborative social aspect and the value of the services will keep the consumer returning. 


There are two aspects to the consumer attraction that you must also take into account:

  1. The initial attraction, or lure, that brings the consumer to the site.  This is generally achieved via advertising of some sort such as Google ad spaces, or email, or Groupon even.  The method of initial attraction must be easy to act upon and also interesting and timely for the consumer.  This means a regular ‘grind’ of advertising to catch the consumer at the point when the consumer realizes the need.  After the need is identified by the consumer it must be easy for them to act on that ad and purchase.
  2. The on-going attraction that encourages the consumer to return to the site.  This is where the collaborative and social aspects must be incorporated on top of the base advertising activities to encourage the consumer to return.  Maybe these are requests for product ratings, or maybe these are requests to respond to other consumer questions, or maybe these are points memberships programs that provide added value after so many purchases.  The objective is to create the habit for the consumer to return to your site.


You can see that both of these retention activities are closely related and enhancing the other’s actions.  This is the point, you must encourage and attract the consumer to return and frankly the consumer has been educated to react to these value added activities.             

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?



There are two objectives to developing a collaborative consumer feedback framework the first, and foremost, reason is to retention and the second is to provide a framework to collect information. Both of these objectives are probably equally important and valuable to the network.  If I were to choose one to start with though I would first focus on the retention objective because I believe that this objective is the most important to the long term success of the site.  Retention provides not only the reason to stay but also the reason to return and the reason to encourage others to explore and try the site. 


Consumers remain on a site when there are products that interest them or activities and function they feel provide value.  The products that interest will draw consumers in the first place and these are important but after the purchase there is no reason to stay.  In order to draw the consumer initially you must provide a selection of products that interests the consumer.  The next ingredient to retention is providing tools and suggestions to encourage the consumer to shop and put products together.  These shopping capabilities require a great deal of preparation, first to purchase products that compliment each other and second to broadcast these matching products to the consumer in a manner that encourages the purchase.  Then the third ingredient to retention is the reason to return.  The reason to return is a little more nebulous than the other reasons because the reason to return is made up of a mix of the ingredients that draw the consumer in the first place.


The reason to return is first driven by the product selection and ease of shopping, next the reason to return is driven by the publication of this information to previous shoppers along with potential shoppers.  You must continuously provide a stream of new consumers to the site to add to your customer base and also to replace customers that leave for whatever reason.  This addition of new customers cannot be the only focus though, you must provide reasons to return in addition to the products and cost.  The reason consumers return to a site or a store is because of the perceived value they acquire from the regular return.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking consumers return for price alone, that is a losing proposition.  The reason consumers return is the mix of products, services and habit.  Products provide the first attraction and then the combination of products and services encourage the return and then finally after the consumer builds a trust in the site the consumer develops the habit to return.  This habit is the most elusive and also the most valuable in the management and maintenance of the site and the practice.          

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Consumers generally provide a great deal of feedback, although it is also generally one sided.  The challenge and the requirement for future success is to create a framework and environment that encourages and generates two way feedback from the consumer, or a conversation.  This conversational feedback will provide the framework to increase replace some of the retailers’ currently forms of analysis with more valuable and accurate information.  This conversational feedback framework cannot just be put in place though and expect an immediate acceptance and utilization by consumers.  You must be patient in developing and improving the process, tools and most importantly the maintenance for the value to be fully realized.


Current, or what will quickly become legacy consumer feedback and analysis tools have been grouped into two general categories; sales analysis based and survey based.  These provide a broad based analysis based on history for product that consumers have purchased and controlled and focused reaction to products or services to be offered in the near future.  There are pitfalls to both of these types of analysis and this is where a little bit of luck and the capabilities of the supply chain comes into play.  What I mean by this is that the retailer selects a product offering for the next season based on past history and consumer reaction to styles and products through surveys.  The retailer then makes the initial purchase to support initial sales which they hope will provide a runway to identify the runners and dogs.  This is where the supply chain comes into play because the retailer must depend on the supply chain to deliver the product for runners in a timeframe that maintains the consumer interest so sales are not lost.  This, in a nutshell is why the supply chain is so important to the retailer.


In the future, in a consumer conversational collaboration framework, combined with the technology tools and capabilities quickly evolving, the analysis is a two-way conversation that supports clarification and more specific feedback.  The eCommerce sales analysis for instance is more accurate because it can track the ‘browsing’ interest and help to understand how consumers make decisions.  The feedback from consumers can be expanded and direct, through consumer purchase evaluations for instance and also consumer response to those evaluations.  The greatest value though will be achieved when the retailer develops the means to converse directly with the consumer.  Perhaps this conversation expands the Facebook relationship to begin with or perhaps it extends the chat function to include not only retailer representatives but also consumers that may be browsing the site.  The potential is vast and the cost can be supported by eliminating the surveys and focus groups that provide only limited return.    

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The collaborative priority management process requires a robust and inclusive maintenance program in order to ensure that the objectives and requests are fairly and regularly reviewed, prioritized and executed. The maintenance program must provide a method and process to regularly evaluate the progress of improvement execution, evaluate and incorporate new requests and objectives in the existing priorities, and encourage and manage the participation of the members of the network.  This priority management process is a very important contributing factor to the retention and continued participation of the network partners because it provides the foundation for strong partner relationships.  


This is an especially difficult process due to the nature of the collaborative network.  The collaborative network is made up of a diverse cross section of members that interact on a regular basis with each other to come together to support the common objectives.  The nature of the network is the opposite of a command and control organization.  I think this difference can be understood better based on the name, an organization implies the command and control nature where there is a leader(s) that makes the decisions and the people in the organization execute the decisions.  The network implies a group of people and organizations where the decisions are collaborative based on input, desires and benefits to the network, this is more of a democratic group of people and organizations.  The difficulty comes from the need to maintain a robust and open line of communications, a fair and open process to review objectives and requests, a collaborative decision making process and finally a process to monitor and coordinate the execution of the objectives and requests. 


The management of this maintenance process must be rotated among the partner members In order to maintain and encourage the continued participation of the partner members.  This type of rotation also requires a structure, or process, that allows the leadership to rotate without impacting the process.  This type of structure and rotation requires a clear set of procedures that can be followed and executed in a structured and continuous manner so that the rules of engagement are not redefined each time the process management changes.  This type of structure will also ensure the continued appearance of a fair and unbiased approach to the management of the process.  It is important for the continued success of the maintenance process and the continued success of the collaborative network that member needs and member participation drive the improvements and the network does not become just another branch of a strong command and control organization.  As I have said earlier, this is a very difficult process to implement and maintain, however it is also a process that is critical to the success of the collaborative network. 

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Priority management for your collaborative network requires the active participation from the network partners in order to maintain the effectiveness of and interest of the partners.  This management process should be viewed as a key factor in retaining your network partners as well.  This process depends on the active participation of all members to maintain the robust process to review and prioritize requests and objectives and the fairness of the review, the greater the participation of the members the more equitable the decisions will be for the priorities.  The active participation meets the criteria to ensure a fairness to the priority setting and the confirmation of an open and unbiased process to incorporate the views and the priorities of the members.


It is important to the long term viability of the collaborative partner network that there is a process that both encourages and incorporates the views, objectives and priorities of the members.  In my experience the priority management process provides two benefits to the partner network;

  1. A forum for the members to actively review the requests and benefits of these requests from the network partners.
  2. A voice in setting the priorities and scheduling the delivery of these priorities. 

These are both important factors in the appearance and basis of fairness in supporting all of the network partners in a collaborative and open manner.  This appearance and basis of fairness is then an important factor in the retention and participation of the members.  In other words, in order to encourage the active participation of your collaborative network partners, you must, in fact, openly and honestly incorporate the views and suggestions from this partners in determining the priority of actions and objectives of the network.


This is not a difficult process to implement, the request review and prioritization process provides the vehicle and the participation of the members provides the fuel.  This process will support and focus the prioritization from the network partners and the active participation of the members ensures the incorporation of the partner views and priorities.  The trick to the success of these efforts is in the facilitation of the process and decisions that come out of this process.  To ensure the perception of fairness from the partners you should implement a rotation of the facilitator role among the partners.  This will ensure there is no one partner with more influence than other partners and by expecting and requiring the participation of all members this process will also increase the retention of the members.


The network objective in implementing this process should be the assurance that the process openly reviews and honestly prioritizes the network objectives based on the views and requirements of the partners.  When this process is implemented is will become a self-maintaining process that does not require a great deal of effort from any one partner to maintain.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The collaborative network priority management is an important process that must be actively managed in order to ensure the objectives are prioritized and executed based on the network priorities.  This being said though there is one network member that must always take precedence in the prioritization process and that is the consumer members.  Process based management of the priorities and objectives delivery will ensure that the objectives are executed and delivered in a manner that is fair to all members.  This is a critically important aspect to the retention and growth of the network members.  This must be treated as one of the key tenets of the collaborative network principles.


Above all else the collaborative network must act in fairness to all members and this includes the priority management.  Priority management should be a very straightforward process that identifies and reviews the requests and objectives submitted, or requested, from members and and then provide a forum to allow the members to present their case for execution of the request.  This forum provides the members an outlet to hear other members’ requests and objectives while presenting their own.  All of the requests, both new and outstanding unstarted requests, can then be compared and the members must then agree to priorities, sequences and relationships.  As you can imagine this process must be performed in a virtual meeting in which the members attend real-time.  The value of this process is realized from the review session and real time priority discussions.  The priorities must be reviewed and agreed by the members attending the review session to ensure acceptance by the members.  It is also critical to the success of this program that the benefits are also reviewed and agreed by the members. 


This priority provides all network members the opportunity to state their case for their individual requests and, most importantly, to agree the priorities assigned for all requests.  This collaborative approach to request prioritization ensures that all members have the opportunity to participate and fairly state their case.  Believe it or not, during this seemingly simple process the member participants will come to focus on defining the priorities that benefit the network rather than their own requests when they see that all the members act honestly and fairly when reviewing the priorities.  I have implemented this process in many situations and have found that participants act in fairness based on their requests being treated fairly based on the benefits delivered by the individual requests.  When provided with an open and fair forum to prioritize requests based on the benefits and the members have the opportunity to present and challenge requests based on their merits and benefits the members will participate in a manner that is most beneficial to the network.  I think you will find that the participants in this process police and maintain the fairness in the process themselves without the need for on overseer.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?

tbrouill

Collaborative Focus

Posted by tbrouill Oct 8, 2015


In order to retain your collaborative partners and maintain the improvements and movement you must focus on the benefits of the other partners in your network.  Every partner in your network has needs and objectives that can be supported by collaboration within the network and if each partner maintains a focus on the objectives and benefits that will help the other members in the network these objectives and benefits will easily be delivered.  This focus on benefits that will help your partners will catch on with the other partners and will grow especially when the benefits and value delivered grows across the network. 


An inward focus will only generate resentment in the other partners and this resentment will lead to a lack of participation, loss of partners and loss of benefits and value.  I understand and agree that there is a need for each partner to benefit and gain value from the partnership, after all the key reason to join the network is the potential value that can be achieved through the partnership.  However, I do not think that a there is a need for each member of the network to achieve a benefit from each action within the network.  There are times when de-optimizing the benefits for one member of the partnership increases the benefits to the collaborative network as a whole.  You must be careful though to ensure that this de-optimization does not fall on one member all the time.  Your focus should be on a steady and continuous growth in value from your relationship with the network and this does not mean that you must realize direct benefits or value from each initiative.


You will find that this outward focus becomes contagious and then will produce greater benefits and value to the entire network.  As the network members increase and the capabilities of the members and the network increases, the opportunities for value will also grow.  This collaborative partnership network is a long term strategic initiative and you must take a long term perspective of the benefits realized from the network.  An outward focus on the needs and benefits of the network and not any one individual within the network will ensure the long term strategic value of the network.


This can be a difficult viewpoint due to the drive to show benefits and value growth on a short term cycle.  Every member of your collaborative network also has this same need though, and this is an additional reason for an outward focus on the network benefits to help all members achieve benefits and value on a regular cycle.  This outward focus will provide great long term benefits and value while also increasing the retention of the partners and interest in your collaborative network. 


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


tbrouill

Collaborative Attitude

Posted by tbrouill Oct 6, 2015


The strength, maintenance and growth of your collaborative network is based in large part on the attitude of both yourself and your partners.  I think it’s true that attitude is the makes up 90% of your success in developing and maintaining your partner network and a this attitude should have a greater percentage of focus externally towards your partners.  The success of your collaborative network depends on the participation and support of your partners and your attitude towards your partners plays a large role in this success.  Collaboration depends on the relationship and benefits realized by all members of the collaborative network and this positive relationship depends on maintaining and attitude of participation and providing value to the entire network.


Whenever writing about the collaborative network I always speak of ‘your collaborative partner network’ and this inclusion of ‘your’ in that phrase should not be construed as a partnership that is yours alone with your partners playing a supporting role in achieving your goals and objectives.  You must remember that everyone that is a member of the partner network is also using ‘your’ (meaning ‘their’) partner network when referring to the network.  When speaking of the network it is more appropriate to refer to ‘our collaborative partner network’ to convey the true relationships of the members, this is a shared partner network and all partners in this network have the same rights in expecting the network to provide value to the business of each of the members.


This is probably the most difficult, and most important, lesson to learn about the attitude as it relates to your collaborative network - you must focus on the needs of the network and the members of the network rather than only your needs.  This is the attitude that must be conveyed by all members of this partner network and this is why I am always careful to refer to ‘partners’ and ‘members’ in my  references to convey the attitude of a mutually beneficial relationship.  It is important to focus on the mutual benefits of the collaborative network to ensure the continued interest, participation and support of each of the members.


The quickest way to lose the interest of any participant in any activity is to not focus on the participants, and the collaborative network requires this same level and direction of focus.  This focus begins with the individual attitudes of each of the members of the partner network and this attitude cannot be hidden, there must be a focus on the benefits and value provided to the other members of the network.  When you start with this collaborative attitude you have gone a long way to ensuring the long term success of your network. 


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Retailers are generally focused on retaining customers and growing their customer base, which they should to maintain a healthy business.  There is another group that also requires focus on retention and that is your partners, including suppliers, carriers and third party logistics providers.  These partners are also required to maintain a healthy and growing business, however sometimes this requirement gets lost in the fog of all the other activities.  It is important to retain your partners in your extended network and this is where your collaboration principles and efforts really should be leveraged to deliver value and  encourage partners to participate.  The active participation of your partners will encourage and ensure their long term retention.


Customer retention is a common theme in the retail environment, I think though that partner retention is next in line in level of importance and I also think there is not nearly enough focus on the importance of retaining partners.  We have entered into a ‘shared economy’ environment where people share their homes, their jobs, their cars and basically anything else that technology can measure and implement a sales model.  Your collaborative partners are another important aspect of this environment and this requires a focus and investment in time and thought to encourage and maintain a participation.  You can’t simply throw out a comment that you want to partner with another person or company, there must be an affinity and a benefit resulting from this partnership and collaboration.


Each company starts with a large group of other companies that they interact with on a regular basis such as manufacturers, suppliers, designers, retailers, advertisers, customers and many others and these related people, organizations and companies provide the basis for your collaborative partner network, in other words it provides the basis for the partnership.  There is, however, a great deal of coordination and effort involved in creating, maintaining and growing the collaborative partnership.  This effort is critical to retaining the partners in your collaborative network and requires regular care and feeding in order to maintain the network and retain the partner members of this network. 


Retaining the partners in your collaborative network requires give a take among and across the network and the a key basis for the retention is the value that is delivered to the partners in the network.  The value can come in many forms such as cost reductions or business growth but there must be a value returned in order for your partners to continue to participate.  It is important that each member in the partnership remember this caveate and it is also equally important that each member participate in the network to maintain this value equation, the value cannot be achieved without the active participation of the members.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


The strength of the collaborative partnership network is based on the participation and commitment of the partner members.  One of the key factors in ensuring and encouraging the participation of the partners is a framework of participation that is based on, and support by, collaborative guiding principles.  These guiding principles must be reviewed, maintained and potentially updated on a regular basis although these principles are also much more stable and the change required of them must less volatile than consumer interaction services and methods, for instance.  Sometimes though the activities that are viewed as more stable are also more difficult to maintain and modify.


These principles though are easily as important to the success of your collaborative partnership network as the continuous improvement program is to the consumer interaction services and methods.  In order to maintain the interest and strength in your partnership network the partners must realize a value benefit from the membership. This delivery of value must be constantly monitored and members must continuously participate in order to maintain this value proposition.  The challenge to the partnership is maintaining the fresh interest of the partners and fighting the debilitating feeling of routine and ‘going through the motions’ which will cause the slow death of the partnership.  I think the greatest enemy of the continued success of a partnership is the mundane routine that is so easy to fall into.


I would suggest that you must implement a regular cycle of review and refresh at probably six month intervals, in addition, I would also suggest that the addition of a new partner to the network should also trigger a review and refresh of the principles.  This must be done in a collaborative manner that includes all of the partners (or at least a quorum of partners) in the network  In addition I think this review should be viewed as a type of partnership conference that provides a vehicle for the partners to mingle and even present new or improved approaches and even encourage discussion of new and changing markets.  Software vendors have incorporated this approach into their customer relationship maintenance program and I think this would be a very appropriate approach for your partnership network.


In order for your partnerships to grow and strengthen there must be reason to participate and the best reason is the value that is derived from the relationship.  Next though is the challenge of maintaining the partnerships and providing a means to grow the value.  This is where a robust set of principles and the long term maintenance of these principles requires another reason to participate and a value returned from the participation.  I like the conference structure because it provides a framework for encouraging participation while also providing a value for participation.  The conference does not require a costly investment in travel and can be done as a virtual conference.  It does, however, require a value return to encourage participation.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?


Collaborative principles define the guidelines in which your interactions and collaboration with internal and external partners will be executed.  These principles define the appropriate actions and reactions to influences should be viewed and acted upon within your collaborative network and all members can be assured that any actions based upon the principles are appropriate and meet the partnership criteria.  These principles do not define the process, however they do provide guidance on appropriate actions and practices.  These principles are not laws for your collaboration rather they are more like guideposts or milestones that provide direction in the manner that your partners and yourself will collaborate.


These principles should be developed in a manner that they are flexible enough to apply to many types of situations where they provide appropriate direction.  They should not be specific to a situation or a partner which would require a great deal of principles along with regular and constant modifications.  Principles are defined in a manner that allows interpretation and does not require a great deal of modifications, the principles are something like the constitution; define the broad rules and allow for interpretation based on the specific event or activity and also based on the current factors that influence or drive the activity.  The principles are open for interpretation, however, these principles do not require maintenance as part of a continuous improvement program.


These principles will start initially as an exercise in defining the collaborative partnership and will require participation of each of the initial partners as appropriate.  Partners that cannot participate for any reason should be represented by a proxy.   For instance, the retailers’ external customer is part of the collaborative network should and be represented in the principles discussion by a proxy, or even proxies because it is not appropriate to expect this type of external customer to participate in the discussions.  As partners are added to the collaborative network you would review the principles with the potential new partner for agreement and acceptance, the principles should not require major revisions with the addition of partners, however you should should not be surprised at modifications or additions as new members join the partnership.  The addition of partners allows for the review and modification based upon new viewpoints and perspectives which is good for the acceptance and continued value of the principles.


These collaborative principles are an important tool for ensuring that all partners are heard and given the same opportunity to speak and participate in the discussions and plans of the community.  These principles should be viewed as encouragement to commit and participate with the assurance of acceptance and consideration from the partners in the community.  These principles must be a living agreement that changes with the times and the addition of new partners, however the principles must also provide a level of stability to ensure the partners that the principles will not change on a whim.  Participation and commitment from the partners will be encouraged by these principles and the maintenance of them should not be taken lightly.


And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?