In order for the collaboration network to prosper and grow the partners must obtain benefits and the partners in the collaboration network must achieve these benefits mutually.  This is a very simple goal for the partnership that we all know is impossible to achieve.  It is a simple fact that not every partner will achieve a direct benefit, or mutual benefit with every initiative or action completed by the network.  This is where the commitment to the partnership comes into play and the view of what is good for the network will provide indirect benefits to all of the members of the network.  In order to achieve these benefits the network must collaborate and perform or act as a type of social community.  The benefits achievement in the collaboration partnership or community then is based on the premise that not everyone will achieve a benefit however the development and benefits achieved as a whole for the community will indirectly at least benefit all members of the community.


It is important that the beneficial actions and initiatives undertaken through the collaboration network are are prioritized and coordinated across the network to understand and achieve the benefits that have been identified.  In order to support the growth and coherence of the network the communication coordination and acceptance of the initiatives must be clearly communicated and accepted, or embraced across the network.  This requires a broad review and planning process to actually understand and prioritize the initiative across the network.  The initiative first must be evaluated to identify the benefits and the risks to the collaborative network, next the initiative must be evaluated to identify the individual benefits that can be achieved and the partners within the network that would achieve the benefits.  The third aspect to this evaluation is a little tricky; you must identify any negative impact and the partners that would be impacted by these negative aspects of the initiative. 


This is where the open communications and commitment to the network comes into play, it is easy for someone to agree and support an initiative when they will reap the benefits, it requires commitment to the network and a longer term vision to agree and support an initiative that may negatively impact internal operations of the partner.  The evaluation, selection and prioritization of the initiatives undertaken by your collaborative partnership depends on open communications and participation of the partners in the network.  This also depends on the equitable selection of the initiatives along with the benefits achieved by the partners across the network.  Remember the collaborative network is a business community and the reason for members to remain in the community is the delivery of benefits to the members of the community. Members will accept and support the community and initiatives even though the member may not benefit from each initiative because the initiatives are distributed fairly and regularly across all members. 


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?