In a previous discussion I suggested that the success of a partnership, or a social network, and the success of many if not all businesses would seem to be based on completely opposite behaviors.  These are the behaviors and areas that will require focus and practice until these new practices become ingrained in your subconscious and second nature in your actions.  This becomes a training exercise that requires effort to develop these practices and must be a priority of your collaborative partnership network to develop and incorporate these practices.  This exercise is a great method to build relationships across your partnership network, the exercises will especially enhance the engagement and participation of the members. 

This process is important to the long term success of your network and it will also be one of the most challenging initiatives of the partnership.  During the initiation phase of your collaborative network you and your partners must all strive to embrace the sharing and open and honest communications that are a critical aspect of your partnership’s growth and success.  As others have said over and over, success doesn’t just happen and the success of your collaborative network is no different.  The sharing and open communications can start with sharing your challenges with your partners.  This is a good beginning and will provide a solid foundation for growth in both sharing and open communications.

Sharing the challenges among partners is a good first step to developing the open communications that is necessary to develop a robust partnership.  This can be a difficult first step though because the open communications is not natural with external partners.  As I mention above, the natural tendency in a business relationship is to view external organizations as competitors and this in turn leads to a tendency to hold back on sharing information with organizations that would have previously been viewed as either competitors or a service supplier.  In both cases these relationships are more customer / vendor relationships and as such the customer has a tendency to hold back what they view as intellectual property or competitive advantage. 

The change in the relationship is critical to creating the partnership relationship.  One method that I found that helps in developing the partner relationship is to focus on mutual benefits.  This focus on mutual benefits will provide a strong foundation for the partnership to develop along with a basis to begin the open communications.  I view the development of the partnership, and a collaborative partnership is no different, as a three step process.  This process starts with a focus on mutual benefits, the next step is the open communication and sharing of challenges and the third step is where the rubber meets the road and the partnership blossoms to address the challenges of the 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?