In recent postings I’ve discussed the importance of engaging the partners across the collaborative partnership network and the importance of open communication and more specifically, openly sharing business challenges with the network.  These are all important points in building the framework for a robust, productive and growing collaborative partnership.  One of the unspoken goals is to create a framework that provides more value across the partnership network, when I think of this or describe the objective I think of the equation 1 + 1 = 3, in other words the network gains more from the partnership than any one individual partner invests.  However, this is a difficult model to implement and probably more difficult to maintain and grow in an ongoing basis.

My suggestion is to implement a framework that has worked for me in the past starting with the first implementation to support the varied and sometimes conflicting priorities within a siloed company.  This framework is based on a continuous improvement model that brings together representatives from each silo, or in the case of a collaborative partnership each organization.  This model encourages and supports the open communication across partners through a framework that collects and prioritizes partner challenges across the network.  This model is supported with a monthly review session that includes representation from each of the partners to discuss and prioritize the challenges based on three key criteria, effort (including duration}, value and availability of resources from the network.  

A key benefit derived from this framework is that it allows the initiatives to be discussed in an unbiased and factual manner that encourages and more importantly requires open communications.  I think that you have probably already identified another important factor to this framework, it allows you to build the achievements and as a result the value gained from the network in a progressive manner.  Through this framework the partners can start with small initiatives that will help to develop the relationships and then expand with the the success of the early initiatives.  This is probably one of the key factors in this framework, it supports and encourages a method to validate and grow the trust across the partners. 

Let me use as an example my experience with this continuous improvement framework within a single siloed organization because I think you probably have experienced similar behavior.  When starting the framework the representatives were internally focused, in other words they only cared about their problems or benefits.  Within six months, the representative’s attitudes changed dramatically because the saw the results and the value to themselves and the organization as a whole.  This is when the representatives really started to challenge and provide facts to support initiatives and this is also when the individuals in the group started viewing the value provided to the organization rather than just the benefits gained for their own silo. 


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?