There are many aspects of a collaboration partnership that would seem to be at odds with commonly accepted, or more accurately, commonly professed business practices.  I’ve covered the majority of these in previous discussions with a focus on developing the collaborative partnership framework, or foundation, that will support and more importantly encourage a robust partnership.  In this discussion I will cover the collaborative viewpoint, or to put it another way way the collaboration horizon.  What I mean by this is the time period or time horizon that you should use to measure the success of your collaborative partnership network.  This viewpoint in another aspect of the collaborative partnership network that is generally at odds with your general business viewpoint because you must take a long-term view of your partnership and measuring the success of your partnership when measuring success and even some of the return on investment.

First of all remember that everything discussed up to now has been focused on the requirements to developing the partnership and how your framework will encourage participation and engagement in the partnership.  This focus on developing the framework is necessary to support and encourage the participation and engagement.  This focus on the framework provides the basis and the first steps to building and supporting the collaboration network.  This framework also provides the introduction and the justification for the long term viewpoint.  This long term viewpoint requires patience from the network members and also a from the partner senior leadership in order to allow the long term benefits to grow. 

Its easy for me to say that you must take a long term viewpoint and have patience in order to reap the full benefits of the collaborative partnership.  I also know though that patience doesn’t pay the bills, or in this case provide the return on investment to encourage the leadership across the partnership network to have the patience required to take the long term view.  As I previously stated, the challenge with developing a successful collaborative partnership network is learning to perform within the network in a manner that seems to be at odds with generally accepted, or more accurately generally encouraged business practices. 

Every step of the development of your collaborative partnership requires that both you and your partners act in a social manner with a focus on benefits for the network rather than a relentless focus on benefits for the individual partner.  I have called this a social network focus because of the focus on the community rather than a single minded focus on the individual.  Don’t get me wrong, in order for all this to actually work and blossom the partners within the network must realize financial and performance benefits.  This will require determination, hard work and most importantly patience from all partners and leadership across the network.  This can be difficult because of the long term view required and that is why I think that near term return is critical to developing the patience required for the long term viewpoint to take hold and realize the long term benefits.


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?