Business risk can come in many shapes and forms resulting again from various influences and activities that interact with your business.  Risk can seem to occur unexpectedly however I think that investigation and review of past events show that there are normally warning signs that predict the event.  The challenge then is watching to identify the risk prior to the occurrence of the event so that you can limit, or even eliminate the impact on your business.  There have been many methods and successful consulting practices built on the identification and mitigation of  risk and this is not the subject of my discussion.  I see a great opportunity to incorporate your collaborative partnerships into your risk mitigation methods and plans.  I see that your collaborative partnerships can have a dramatic and critical impact on the success of your risk mitigation actions.

The prevalent method, and reason to enter into a collaborative partnership is obviously the benefits that can be realized by the partners.  Another aspect of the value proposition is the positive impact on mitigating risk that can be realized through the collaborative partnership.  I believe this positive impact on mitigating risk across the partnership can be equally as valuable as a reduction in cost or an increase in sales.  This positive impact on risk mitigation and literally make the difference between the success and failure of your business.  The impact of the collaborative partner on mitigating risk should be incorporated as a critical aspect to your partner selection process. 

Furthermore I think that one aspect of developing a risk mitigation plan should focus on identification and developing strategic collaborative partnerships to mitigate the risk.  This evaluation process in a way turns the business threat evaluation process on its head.  First you should identify the threats and the risks to your business.  Second, rather than developing a plan to internally develop means to address the threats and risks, my suggestion is to identify and then engage potential partners that can address the threats and risks.  When you step back to evaluate your threats and risks I think you will find that many of the key threats and risks are related to competitors and their impact on your business success.  Why not turn this process from an internally focused exercise to an externally focused exercise?

This practice will be especially important to small and mid-sized companies where the resources (financial and people) may not be readily available to mitigate the threats and risks.  Take a look at your business and what are your concerns and challenges and they review the business landscape for the businesses and people that are successful in overcoming your threats and risks.  Rather than mimicking their procedures, why not partner with them?  I think you will find that your strengths in many cases will compliment their weaknesses and that developing a collaborative partnership will benefit you both.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

Have you discussed with your leadership how to select the type of relationship to enter into with a new potential partner?  What questions do you answer in order to determine the model?  Do you re-evaluate your relationship on a regular basis in order to revise the relationship?