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2015


I view the collaboration network as a complicated living social organism and as such it must be maintained and fed to maintain the healthy social organism.  This network requires a continuous flow of communication, change and growth of both new partners and new initiatives and objectives because without this continuous flow the members would lose interest in the network and without the member interest, the network would whither and die.  These growth activities are critical, and most difficult, in the early stages of building the collaboration network and will level and simplify when the key communicators are identified and engaged in the network activities.


These activities are all important in the maintenance and growth of the network and the key communicators provide the glue and the incentive to maintain the network.  This is the reason that the key communicators are so important to the collaboration network.  These key communicators though also require a level of care and feeding to maintain their interest and participation.  This care and feeding includes maintaining and supporting activities and initiatives that provide value to the key communicators organization and interest the key communicators’ personal goals and objectives in a way that keeps them returning to the network.  If the network can maintain the interest of these key communicators, then the key communicators will maintain the lines of communication and encourage participation across the network.


The most difficult aspect of maintaining the collaboration network is the leadership, because this requires developing a method to share the leadership across the network.  This is most difficult because it requires that a leader begin the collaboration network and build the foundation and framework for the successful network.  Then it requires that this leader develop and implement a process to encourage others to step up to lead and actually turn the leadership over to these new leaders.  This leadership development process requires the nurture and development of the interest of network members to lead network initiatives and in so doing provide the leadership to develop new capabilities and shape the direction of the network.  This can be difficult for the initial leader to turn over the reigns, however it must be done in order to ensure the longevity of the network. 


This may be difficult however the act clearly demonstrates to the network members the level of commitment of the original members to support the collaborative nature and growth of the network.  The ‘perception is reality’ concept is most important in the collaborative network because there is no formal organization to enforce rules and standards. For this reason the perception of fairness, inclusion and collaborative decision making and leadership is important to both project and embrace to encourage participation by the members.  Two key factors to this complicated process are the key communicators and the shared leadership.

 

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?


As with any activity there are people that are more adept and communicating and bringing people together than others and the trick to success in the collaborative network is to identify these key communicators and let them do what they do best - bring people together.  This may sound simple when you read the sentence, and I think everyone knows one of these key communicators in their life that brings people together, the difficulty though sometimes is encouraging these communicators to get involved.  The collaborative network is especially dependant on the key communicator concept due to the nature of the network and the broad expanse of partners participating in the network.


The collaborative network and partners must take advantage of the initial high and excitement from members joining the community to identify key communicators and encourage and nurture their participation. This starts off simply by engaging members in the initial interaction with the network members.  During these initial engagements you can begin to identify the level of participation simply through the level of engagement.  Then you expand the investigation and determination by the continued participation and engagement of the members.  The key communicators will tend to actively participate in discussions and will also return regularly to the network for participation and support.  These key communicators are essentially self identifying and simply require the outlet and the encouragement to participate.


The collaborative network requires a continuous flow of ideas, initiatives and offers to support the members in order to maintain the robust participation of members.  In order to continuously grow and support the members, the network must become a central clearinghouse of ideas, information, initiative execution and support.  This clearinghouse concept will both attract and support the key communicators and their participation and encouragement of other members to participate.  This is an interesting ‘chicken or egg’ question, the network must be developed in order to provide this clearinghouse of collaboration, and on the flipside, the clearinghouse will never survive without the active participation of the members.  In addition, the active participation of the members also provides a compelling reason to retain members in the collaborative community.


The successful collaborative community is a complicated network of members that develop and grow through the participation of the members and also the value that is delivered by the community.  There can be no members without the community and there can be no reason for members to join the community without the promise of value returned.  The initial attraction for members to join is the promise of the value returned and the continued growth can only be achieved through the actual delivery of value.  Your efforts in creating and maintaining the collaborative community must be the participation of the members in order to be able to deliver on the promise of value.

 

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?


Communication is the cornerstone of both trust and collaboration in a partnership.  Communication is probably the single most important foundational building block in developing and maintaining a robuts collaborative network.  The free and flowing communication should be the first and the last point that comes to your partner network members when thinking about the collaborative network.  In fact, in the case of the collaborative network truly do not think there can be a case of over-communication when interacting with your partners.  Communication in any network is important and this importance is increased dramatically in a collaborative network.


The plan for communication is very simple in a collaborative network, because everything should be communicated across all channels of the network over and over again.  The collaboration network can be challenging because there are general no rules for engagement, the partners can engage when they desire and as something that is important to them is addressed.  You can probably already see the challenge in this; how does a member know that something important to them is addressed if they are not continuously engaged?  This is where the communication across all channels becomes important, and where the engagement of partners must continuously be a priority to the network.  Collaborative networks will fall apart if the lines of communication are not actively and faithfully maintained. 


The challenge in the communication channels is that while the lines of communication must be actively maintained, you must accept and embrace the fact that there will always be one member or partner that is more focused or active in maintaining the communication.  The optimum process in this network framework is to encourage partners to take the lead on communication in areas that are of interest.  This requires that all network members engage and respond to communication to encourage others to take the lead.  Communication is a participation sport and if there is no two way communication across partners then it is not communication and communication will dry up if the partners are not responding the the communication. 


You must understand though that the communication will never evenly split across all members and I think the good news is that there will also always be members that are more engaged than others.  These key communicators should be encouraged to carry forward the activities that engage the members and encourage the participation.  I think that most members in the network will participation with a little encouragement from other members and this is one of the strengths of the collaborative network; there will always be members that are more extroverts and bring members together for an initiative.  I also think you will find that with this encouragement more and more members will participate and even grow into encouraging partners.  You must use the people that like to bring people together and develop the relationships and then you must have the patience to stick to the process and agenda to give all members an opportunity to participate and grow into an interactive member of the community.

 

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?


Trust in and across the members of the collaborative network is a foundational feature that must be nurtured and encouraged across the network and especially in the new members to the network. The other foundational functions also encourage trust across the network such as sharing the leadership, developing guiding principles and a participation platform.  These foundational function though all encourage and support the development and growth of trust across the network partners.  Without a level of trust across the partners it becomes very difficult to retain network partners and to maintain the growth of the network and especially the value delivered through network initiatives, or programs.


Trust is very difficult to develop and requires encouragement and nurturing in order to develop and grow.  Initially trust is a fleeting entity that is easily and quickly lost due to intentional or unintentional actions.  Developing trust in and across others first requires that you show trust in and across others.  This sometimes requires setting aside past experience and disappointments when dealing with others in order to grow trust and confidence in your current partners.  This initial suspension of past difficulties can be very difficult however without this initial willingness to give trust when there is no foundation is the single most important ingredient and first step in gaining and developing the trust across the network members.


I am not saying that you should act foolishly in trusting these new partners with the keys to your success, or your industry secrets.  I am saying however that you must show trust in your actions with others to act in the best interest of the collaborative network.  This act of showing trust initially in your interaction with your network partners will cause and encourage your network partners to show trust in their interaction as well.  I understand that these initial steps are taken hesitantly and in a spirit of ‘trust but verify’ and there is nothing wrong with this.  In fact, I think it would be foolish to recklessly trust partners initially without a period of verification.  These actions of verification and confirmation should, in fact, be encouraged across your network and interaction with partners in that network.  These actions in themselves will also encourage and breed trust across the collaborative network.


Trust breeds trust is a foundational principle of the collaborative network.  There is no reason for partners to participate in the network if they cannot trust their partners.  While this trust should not be given blindly, it should also not be held back simply because there was a previous transgression or broken trust with another partner.  Trust requires honesty first and foremost and this means openly communicating with your partners to communicate and identify actions that cause a loss of trust to ensure they are recognized and addressed before the trust is lost.  This is important because your partner may not realize that their actions are causing you to lose trust in them.

 

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 successful collaborative network requires all aspects of the maintenance, program and collaborative services to be shared and the leadership of the network is no different.  The collaborative network must continuously work to encourage participation and retention of the partner members.  The network cannot be successful if there is a continuous churn and changing of partners.  In order to limit the churn and encourage participation and retention the network partners must encourage the participation of the members and also encourage the mentoring of new members.  These community activities will not help though if the value is not returned to members of the community.


A key ingredient to encouraging participation and retention of the members is a policy of shared leadership.  I do not mean leadership by committee, my suggestion is much different.  I think one key to encouraging the participation is allowing different partners to lead initiatives that are important to their interests.  This focus on initiative program leadership provides some key benefits;

  1. Allows the effort required to succeed in delivering initiatives to be shared and leveled across partners which reduces impact on any one partner.
  2. Allows partners to guide initiatives that bring them value to ensure their needs are met.
  3. Encourages participation by including and encouraging partners to step up and lead an initiative important to them.  This can be an especially powerful capacity that clearly demonstrates the commitment to collaboration.
  4. Demonstrates a commitment to collaboration through encouraging members to participate and lead initiatives.


The commitment to sharing and encouraging others members to lead initiatives is one important aspect to demonstrating the commitment to collaboration and sharing with members in the network.  This commitment is important to demonstrate because of the commitment to the collaborative network that it will generate.  It demonstrates to all members that the initial members of the collaborative network are serious in their commitment and that they understand that an open and shared leadership of the community will foster both commitment to the community and more active participation of all members of the community.  This demonstration of commitment is important because it builds relationships and demonstrates a high level of trust across the community members.


Collaboration and more importantly the success of the collaborative community is built on trust, sharing and participation of the members of the community.  Sharing the leadership of initiatives across community partners based on the expertise and the focus of value benefits demonstrates the commitment of all of the community participants to these principles.  The demonstration of these principles is important to both the maintenance and participation of current members along with the recruiting of new members to the community.

 

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?


Program management of initiatives taken up by the collaborative network requires the support and participation of all of the members within the network in order to be successful.  The program management of these initiatives is one of the key factors to encourage the support and participation of the members in the network.  This is not the only tool in the box to help to ensure the participation and retention of the partners.  It is important for the network to encourage the participation in leading the initiatives prioritized and supported by the partners in a manner that ensure the feedback and support of all of the network partners.


The program management of initiatives is an important tool in the retention of partners though from the aspect of encouraging all members to participate in the leadership of initiatives and most especially the initiatives that deliver benefits to their own organization.  Retention and participation should constantly be the focus of the collaborative network to ensure the longevity of the network.  As I have previously mentioned, it is easy to encourage participation when the network and partners are new and it grows increasingly difficult to maintain the participation as the collaborative network ages. 


The selection, or the acceptance really, of the initiative program management must not be taken for granted and should really be integrated as one of the key steps in prioritizing and scheduling initiatives taken on by the network.  As part of the prioritization process the initiative champion, or champions, should assign the program manager that will execute the program.  This action provides two benefits;

  1. The champion is assured that the initiative will support and deliver the objectives that will bring value to their organization and the network as a whole.
  2. The active participation of the network members spread across partners through the program management activities will encourage the participation of other members.  


Sharing of the program management across the network partners is an important aspect to the retention of network members for the reasons that I have outlined above.  This sharing of responsibilities also provides a strong message to the network members that their participation is important and encourage them to participate in a way that provides a shared leadership of the network.  This shared leadership provides both the encouragement to participate and the message that each member’s participation is important along with a pragmatic and useful method to level the effort to deliver these important initiatives across the membership.  Leveling the effort of both management and execution across the membership is nothing to take lightly because it provides the underlying framework that ensures that a small group of members will not be required to provide the lion’s share of effort to support the network initiatives. 

 

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?


Successful and effective collaborative program execution requires strong program management along with continuous improvement practices to ensure that the right things are done by the right people in the right sequences.  This program execution requires strong leadership in order to be effective  and this leadership can be very difficult in this type of environment.  The program execution leadership is a very difficult requirement to be successful in the execution and delivery of the network objectives.  This leadership cannot be downplayed because the network environment requires a continuous commitment and focus in order to ensure the successful execution of the collaborative programs. 


A great deal of effort must be focused on encouraging the participation of the network members in all aspects of collaborative programs management and execution.  This focus must be maintained across all aspects of the program management and delivery in order to ensure that retention and interest of the members.  The program execution and delivery, though is the linchpin to retaining interest and participation because the execution and as a result the delivery of the program objectives and benefits is what puts money in the pockets of the network partners.  The collaborative network partners will lose interest very quickly if they see that the benefits and objectives of the network programs are not delivered.


The participation and leadership of the delivery of these programs must be shared across the network partners for two reasons;

  1. Retention of the partners will increase when they are provided the opportunity, or more accurately the requirement, to lead programs that deliver benefits to themselves.  This provides the opportunity for partners to guide and influence the delivery and benefits of programs that they champion.
  2. Participation of the partners across the spectrum of partners.  The participation of partners is required in order to ensure the network delivers benefits to each of the partners.  There is no question that participation will ensure the requirements and benefits gained by the participants are greater and focused on the participant's needs.


Another important reason to sharing the program management is the network partner resource availability.  The network cannot continue without the collaboration and participation of the partners across the broad spectrum of all partners and not just a few outspoken partners. Each of the partners have their own internal priorities and goals and objectives and the best case scenario of the collaborative network partnership is the opportunity to share the effort, expertise and resulting benefits across this network.  Each of the partners cannot hope to generate the results and the benefits that can be achieved by the partnership.  However, each partner must remember the overarching concept of collaboration and sharing that is the foundation of this network.  This means that no one or small group of partners can be allowed to use the network as a type of outsourced resource pool.  The one method to ensure this is the shared program management and participation of each 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?


Collaborative program maintenance and execution provides the reasons and the benefits that encourage your partners to continue participation in the collaborative network. This includes the execution and delivery of community objectives and programs, including activity execution, issue resolution, risk management, and most importantly lessons learned to improve future programs.  The excitement of working with a wide range of partners in your network to deliver potentially huge benefits provides the incentive to join the network and the program maintenance ensures the benefits are delivered which encourages your partner retention and continuing participation.


The newness of collaboration with new partners and the potential benefits of the objectives and suggestions of the network provide the initial attraction.  This initial attraction and participation provides a great deal of momentum in developing the goals and objectives and also attracting partners to initially engage in the network and the development and prioritizing of the programs.  This is important to reach the critical mass of participation, capabilities and ideas and will carry the interest and participation of the partners through the initial prioritization and start-up of new programs.  However, this newness will not last forever and then the network and the programs will require different means to retain and engage the partners.


This is where the program maintenance comes into play and will provide the encouragement and the reasons for the partners to continue participation in the network activities.  The program maintenance activities are important to ensure a pipeline of objectives are identified, prioritized and then delivered.  The delivery of objectives and value to the network and the participating partners will in turn generate new ideas and concepts to drive new objectives and values.  Program maintenance and delivery must be treated as a critical factor in the maintenance of the collaborative network in order to ensure the long term participation and viability of the collaborative network.


An important aspect of program maintenance is the process of continuous improvement of the execution and delivery of the programs.  This provides the feedback loop that is essential to the maintenance of the program delivery process.  The continuous improvement does not improve the ideas or the objectives, it does however improve the execution and delivery of the objectives.  This improvement in delivery will encourage the retention of the partners and this retention of the partners then encourages generating new concepts and objectives. 


The concepts of program maintenance and continuous improvement are not new in the management of a partnership.  Success though is built on the attention to detail and the ability to deliver, I suggest that the ability to deliver is based in large part on the attention to detail.  The continuous improvement then is the process of attending to new details in order to ensure the continued success of the 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?


Value added program delivery is the driving force behind the collaborative network and the lure for retaining members in this network.  All of the other pieces of the collaborative network such as the communication framework and the network principles are guides and methods to deliver value through collaborative programs.  This is important to remember and to regularly review to remind the members that it is not about the methods or the framework, the reason for the collaborative network and the continued participation of the members is the value that is delivered by the collaborative programs. 


The framework and methods are important to the delivery, in fact it is essential to develop and maintain a robust framework along with the flexible methods to support the delivery.  The delivery model then is a tripod of network members, robust framework and flexible and robust methods, without one of these tripod legs this model just will not work.  Too many times though people, organizations and networks get lost in the framework or the methods and lose sight of the importance of the program delivery.  The only reason that your network partners will return and participate is the promise of delivered value through the collaborative programs.  These collaborative programs deliver value to the partners that could not be achieved without the collaborative network. 


The standard and easy to use framework and methods allow you to focus on your collaborative network programs and the value they will deliver.  To be realistic there will surely be too many program ideas and concepts to execute at any one time and this is why you must implement a program review and prioritization process.  This process will ensure that the network partners understand and agree with the direction and types of programs taken on by the network.  This review and prioritization process also encourages your network partners to return and participate.  The framework and methods provide the means and the ease to participate however there must be a compelling reason to return and participate.  There must be an excitement for your partners to return and participate and the programs taken on by the network along with the programs in the network pipeline provide the compelling reasons to return and participate.


The difficulty you will encounter is maintaining the interest and participation of the network partners over the long term.  First, you must realize that partners will come and go in your collaborative network, this means that partners will leave the network, or probably more likely will simply get distracted by their own business periodically and participation levels will drop.  This is a normal experience in the collaborative network environment and must be accepted and also accounted for.  The reason the program development is so important is because it provides the network partners the encouragement and reason to participate.  This will also provide the reason and encouragement for partners to return over and over again even after periods of inactivity.  For this reason the programs should be the focus of the 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?


Collaborative participation methods sound very formal and structured which is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when discussing collaboration.  However in order to encourage and maintain a level of participation across the collaborative network some structure is required to provide guidance and also to encourage and remind members to participate through methods for notification and and responding to the notification.  This structure provides and supports a fluid flow of communication across the partner network and this flow of communication provides the glue that holds the network together.  This communication must have a structure and even a schedule to ensure that all members are included and have the opportunity to easily and regularly participate.


Participation in a collaborative network is not difficult or require a lot of encouragement when the partner member is new because everything in the network is new and exciting and the partner will have the tendency to explore the network, build member relationships and discover opportunities.  This participation though loses its allure over time and especially within a changing business environment.  This drop in participation is not planned or even desired by the members, it simply drops off bit-by-bit and especially when the network communication requires the member to pull information.  So the first step is to define a method to push information to the members that also provides a method to respond.  This provides the foundation of the participation methods and also supports the necessary methods to frequently communication with the members.


The communication plans and the program development then utilize this framework to push the information to the members for response.  There are two stages of programs that must be supported by this communication plan;

  1. New program development and planning - This includes encouraging partners to suggest new objectives for the community that will improve the value of the community, including brainstorming sessions and then initial objectives and requirements definitions.
  2. Existing program maintenance and execution - This includes the execution and delivery of community objectives and programs, including activity execution, issue resolution, risk management, lessons learned to improve future programs.


You can see that the communication tools provide an important foundation for the participation and the execution of community objectives.  The success of the participation depends on this communication foundation that pushes information and pulls responses from the participants.  This communication may provide the glue and the continuous communication to provide the means to respond, however it still must be supported by virtual group sessions to build the member relationships.  The community depends on relationships and the value that these relationships deliver to the community members, the maintenance and development of these relationships depend on a combination of asynchronous communications (email, text, community web sites) and synchronous communications (virtual meetings, phone calls).  You cannot maintain a robust community without these two sides of the communications.

 

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?


It is important to implement a platform and the methods to support the platform that will ensure that all of the network partners have the opportunity to participate and reap the value that can be provided by collaboration across the network.  This participation platform provides a standard method, or framework, for each of the partners in your network to participate as they see fit.  This platform also provides the framework and method to simplify the participation to encourage your partners to participate.  These are very important aspects that will help to encourage, or at least to remove the obstacles to your network partner participation. 



This ease of access and especially ease of execution are important aspects to the platform and more importantly to the partner participation.  There are way too many reasons for everyone to put off a task and especially when that task requires communication with external partners.  There are just too many distractions and pop-up priorities in everyone’s day to day life to support a cumbersome and complicated platform of collaboration.  This participation platform must not only be easy to access and easy to use but it must also become compulsive and pervasive to use.  This can be difficult with all of the influences and distractions that are pervasive in the day to day business activities.


It doesn’t really matter how valuable the results of the partnership if it is difficult for the partners to communicate and collaborate.  One of the reasons that the Apple iphone is so successful is the simplicity of the tool and the platform.  On the other hand, one of the draws of the Android is the open platform and ability to enhance the capabilities, and by the way, with each upgrade to the Android it becomes even more robust and collaborative.  Your collaborative participation network should incorporate the simplicity along with the open platform and ability to enhance the capabilities.  This combination of collaborative concepts along with ease of use and ease of customization through add on software will provide the platform that will encourage your network partners to participate and continue to return to the network.


Your partners want to participate and they want to engage with their collaborative counterparts and in the past this was a chore to execute.  The new capabilities of not only the connected Internet but also the collaborative tools and platforms address a great deal of these difficulties.  The opportunity, or challenge, now is to invest the initial time with your partners to identify and construct the platform based on the tools and concepts defined by the partners.  This initial investment will then pay off by encouraging new partners to join the network and also by retaining the initial partners to see out their investment in the platform.  Do not underestimate the power of that initial investment by your network partners.

 

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 must maintain a constant rate of change in order to bring success and value to the partner networks.  I guess it can be compared to a shark, in that it must constantly be moving in order to succeed and survive.  All of the activities surrounding the support and maintenance of this network must be focused on supporting, maintaining and encouraging change.  The rate of change of a successful collaborative network is phenomenal especially when you consider the stamina required to sustain a constant rate of change and especially when you consider the discontinuous rate of change that is generated and supported by the collaborative network.


In order to overcome the challenge and difficulty to maintain this rate of change it is important to maintain a high level of interest and participation in the network partners.  I think that the key to this particular requirement is to maintain the interest and this must be done in two ways:

  1. Provide a platform and method to deliver value to all of the participating partners.  This means that the partner must participate to ensure that the network understands and focuses on delivery of value.
  2. Provide an easy and robust method to participate.  This means that there must be not only an outlet for participation but also the direct encouragement from other partner members to participate.  It is easy to participate when someone is reaching out to you and maintaining contact and encouragement.  It is also easy to not participate when your attention is drawn to other matters.


The network collaborative partners are being pummelled by discontinuous change and distractions in a manner and level that drives a shortened focus on any one change due to distractions and other demands.  In order to counter these demands, the collaborative network partners must maintain a level of interest to counteract the distractions.  The network must also realize that the participation for each individual partner will also change, increasing and decreasing due to outside demands.  The trick to maintaining the interest and participation is patience and perseverance from the network members.  This can only be successful through the implementation of a robust continuous improvement process within the network and in order to ensure the maintenance and success of this program there must be a champion that drives the program.


This champion can and should change based on the interest and availability of the champion.  In other words the champion must also change on a regular basis.  So the theme of change requires a robust method of change to support and flourish in the environment.  The reason that a collaborative network fails is disinterest and the failure to recognize and embrace the change. 

 

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 guidelines support can be broken into two phases;  initial development and then on-going support.  Your collaborative guidelines must start from the perspective of the initial network members.  This is your opportunity to begin the collaborative process by developing the guidelines with your network partners.  The result of these initial efforts will be documented and agreed guidelines to provide the framework for the partners to work together.  The on-going support activities will then provide the continuing review and improvements to the guidelines based on the changing priorities of the network, the partners and the customers along with the changing members of the network. 


Take this opportunity when starting your collaborative network to collect and document member objectives, values and reasons for joining the network.  This provides a great opportunity to not only understand member objectives and values but also to build the relationships that will stabilize and support the collaborative network going forward.  This is where you will first be given the opportunity to develop the partnerships that will support and carry your network forward to sustainable, long term success.  This initial opportunity provides a chance to also identify and embrace community leaders.  These leaders are also important to drive the community forward to success. 


The collaborative community requires that leadership be shared and agreed upon, you cannot simply start a community with a pre-ordained leader.  Community members must be given the opportunity and then encouraged to provide guidance and leadership in managing the community.  The most important first step in identification of leaders is communication and the most important action in this communication is the ability to listen and then encourage participation.  The leaders of the community will be the members that are the best listeners and that encourage participation of all of the members.  I think that encouraging participation is a key trait of successful collaborative leaders.


This participation encouragement builds the community and one of the results of building a strong community is the value and benefits returned to the community as a whole.  The strength and value returned to the community then provide the reason and even the need to grow the community partner network to support the new and changing demands of the community customers.  This cycle of growth depends on the participation of the community and then the participation of the community depends a great deal on the guidelines and encouragement of the community members.  This nature of collaboration and participation requires leaders to step up from the members based on their ability to encourage participation.  This participation then provides the support required to maintain robust and beneficial guidelines.

 

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 collaborative network must define partner guidelines and principles that will both support the partner network and provide the methods to manage the partner network.  These principles and guidelines must focus on meeting the needs of the partners in achieving value over the long term.   The key value of the network is that benefits can be more stable over a longer period of time and the underlying costs of achieving these long term benefits are shared across the network.  I am very careful to use the term network because it defines the how the group will be managed in a way that is inclusive of the objectives of all of the partners and not just one or two.  This foundation is important to the long term success of the collaborative network. 


The guidelines then provide the framework to interact with the other partners and provides a means to arbitrate differences in opinion.  These are both important  factors in both building the network and also maintaining the network.  It is unreasonable to believe that there will never be a difference of opinion with all of the interactions between all of the partners.  It is very important to the success of the network that each partner, or member, of the network clearly understand these guidelines and framework for interaction.  These partner guidelines then are followed and even policed by the network partners to ensure fair and unbiased treatment in the network proceedings and actions.  In addition, defining these guidelines up front, and even more important obtaining a formal acceptance of the guidelines by each member when the enter the network is important to the success of the guidelines and the strength of the framework.


This is not to say that everyone in the network will realize the same level of benefits for all of the objectives and all of the time.  Due to the fact that the level of benefits will fluctuate, it is even more important that you have clear guidelines defined to ensure that each network partner understands the objectives and has had a chance to influence and accept the direction.  It is important that the network truly collaborates in execution and delivery of the objectives, but collaboration does not mean that everyone must agree, or that everyone will benefit at the same level from each of the objectives.  The important aspect is that every member has the opportunity to participate in the decision making process and especially the prioritization process. 


Each collaborative network must first define the principles and guidelines when initially starting the network and this must be a group exercise that includes all of the partners.  Each network is different and because of this there are different roles and different priorities that are important to the network.  The guidelines must start from the perspective of the initial network members and then as new members join the network the guidelines must be reviewed for any modifications or improvements based on the input from new 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?


Your supply chain network will expand and contract based on my different actions and reactions to the events and objectives of the entire collaborative network.  This expansion and contraction of the network membership and participation can be viewed almost as the network breathing and living.  The supply chain partners in the network participate in the collaborative community based on the overall and long term benefits that they can realize from the community.  The community will be the driving factor for this expansion and contraction in participation, there is no one leader of the community that drives the direction and the objectives of the community, the key driving factor in the community is the customer members and their desires. 


You must remember this foundation principle in order for the community as a whole, and as a result each member of the community and extended network to be successful.  The collaborative community is a social organism that lives through the benefits of all members of the community.  The driving, or lead, factor in this drive is the end customer of the community.  The supply chain network are contributing members to the support of the customers’ demands.  This extended supply chain network must though also gain a benefit in order to participate in this community.  The strength of the community and a key factor in participation is the benefits and value to the members of the participation, obviously.  These benefits and value achieved as the results of the community can be greater and more stable as a result of this network working together as a community.


The members of this community must be assured of the continued value that will be delivered by the community.  Even more important than the overall value achieved through the community is that this value must be fairly distributed across the network rather than focused on any one partner in the network.  So the maintenance of this network partnership and the community as a whole must apply to all of the members.  It is not necessary that this sharing of benefits be equal across all partners in the network, however it is necessary that the benefits be shared fairly based on the participation and value provided by the partners.  This will cause the expansion and contraction of participation by the members.


The maintenance of the partnerships must focus on meeting the needs of the partners in achieving value over the long term.  While everyone would like to benefit 100% of the time, I think that members of the network understand that in some functions the value returned will be greater than other functions.  The benefit of membership in the network is that these benefits can be more stable over a longer period of time and the underlying costs of achieving these long term benefits are shared across the 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?