The continuous improvement program is one of my foundational concepts because of the versatility and value that a well executed and maintained program can deliver to an organization and the collaboration partnership network is no different. In this case the continuous improvement program provides the framework for the network to identify, execute and track the progress and the benefits of the individual initiatives to the network. The program also provides a means to identify and encourage partners to step up and lead the initiatives. This is the key to the success of the program and the partnership and will ensure the long term success of both.
The effective and successful continuous improvement program provides a framework to identify, review, prioritize and execute initiatives that will bring value to the entire partnership network. In the past I’ve discussed the challenge of limited tools in your tool box and the danger of becoming myopic in selecting your tools. You may be thinking that my focus and regular return to the continuous improvement program practice is due to my limited tool set. I suggest though that the reason I come back to the continuous improvement program is because it provide such an effective framework to support and encourage the success of so many business practices. The steps and functions that are required to drive success in your collaborative partnerships just happen to be the key steps and functions that make a continuous improvement programs successful.
The continuous improvement program provides the framework that supports the key functions; a feedback loop that encourages review and prioritization of activities, a method to measure the results of the activities and a method that can be incorporated that will encourage the partners to step up and lead the activities that can benefit from their expertise and priorities. In other words, I think that the continuous improvement program will provide the tools and the framework that will not only encourage the execution of the most valuable activities, the continuous improvement program will also provide the critical feedback loop that is so important to ensure that you are achieving the expected value from your activities.
The one function of the continuous improvement program that I think is one of, if not the most, critical aspects, or requirements, for the long term success of your collaborative partnership is the opportunity to assign leaders to the initiative from your partner network. This aspect encourages the participation from your partners that will ensure the long term success of your partnership. I am a big believer in implementing processes and activities that bring value, I do not believe in implementing processes for the sake of processes. In order to attain the buy in and support from your collaborative partners I believe that they must accept and buy into the value that can be delivered by the activity. I believe that the opportunity to assign leaders to the initiative from across your partner network is a key to achieving this buy in from your partners.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
Have you discussed engagement and participation with your collaborative partners? What methods have you identified and incorporated to encourage participation? Have you incorporated a practice to encourage your partners to take a leadership role in initiatives?