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

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

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

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

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

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